Former-Prime Minister Elected President of Somalia
Former Prime Minister Abdullahi Mohamed was elected President of Somalia on Wednesday, February 8. The victory was cautious as Mogadishu entered into lockdown in order to ensure safety in case of an attack by al-Shabaab. The terrorist organization increased its attacks against the government before the election, according to an Al Jazeera report.
The race between 21 candidates, including then incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took place at an air force base in Mogadishu, which was guarded against any possible attack by AMISOM. 275 parliamentarians and 54 senators cast votes in the election. These representatives were chosen by 14,000 elders and “prominent regional figures,” in one of the final stages of a process that lasted months.
The votes in this groundbreaking election were cast in rounds, however citizens could not vote due to the lockdown. Mohamed received 184 votes, while incumbent Mohamud had 97 votes in the second round. The incumbent then chose to accept defeat, rather than moving to a final round.
In a peaceful transfer of power, Mohamud addressed the results, saying: "History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo." Thousands celebrated in the aftermath of the election, hopeful that the result would usher in a new Somalia, devoid of corruption.
Some, however, denounced the election results, pointing to Mohamed’s “inexperience.” “Unconfirmed reports” revealed that votes were “sold for up to $30,000”, according to a BBC News Report. The election, as reported in The Guardian, illustrates how countries further corruption by “funding the campaigns of specific candidates” in the pursuit of their own “interests.” Al Jazeera reporters also stated that some in the parliament “confirmed that that huge sums of money were paid by some of the candidates and rival presidential candidates have accused each other of buying the loyalty of MPs, drawing furious denials.”
The BBC reports that many, including s the African Union, believe that this election is an important stage in democratization for Somalia, and will clear the way for a “one-person-one vote election” in the future. Addressing his new constituency, President Mohamed, a dual US-Somali national, stated that his election marked “a new beginning for Somalia. It is the start of the war against terrorists. It is the beginning of the war against corruption.”