September 12, 2012 ·25 Comments
Newly elected Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (C) leaves the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu after a bomb blast outside the venue Photo (AFP)
MOGADISHU — A UNIVERSITY professor and rank political outsider who used to work for the United Nations unseated Somalia’s president this week, in the first election of its kind for more than 20 years.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won a run-off against President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed after two other candidates – including the former prime minister – crashed out in the first round of voting by MPs in Mogadishu.
The poll, which has been mired by allegations of bribery and intimidation, was hailed as a landmark moment in Somalia’s interminable journey towards peace and stability.
Professor Mohamud said the people of Somalia were “turning a new page” in their history and leaving a troubled past behind.
Sheikh Ahmed said the vote was transparent and fair. He congratulated Prof Mohamud and he called on Somali people to support their new president, as pockets of celebratory gunfire erupted across the capital.
Professor Mohamud, who worked as a consultant for the UN, the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development, was hailed as a welcome break from the old regime, which stood accused of plundering millions of dollars from the state coffers.
“Hearing Hassan Mohamud’s name announced over and over again is like music to my ears,” one blogger wrote on Twitter, as the results were read out in front of the 245 MPs whose votes heralded an end to successive transitional governments leading their war-torn nation.
Professor Mohamud, 56, the chairman of Somalia’s Justice and Peace Party, helped to found the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development in Mogadishu, which grew into Simad University, and served as its dean until 2010.
According to his curriculum vitae, he also worked for Oxford University’s Centre for Refugee Studies and studied in India and Kenya.
Abddiweli Mohammed Ali, the country’s former Prime Minister who came third in the first round of voting and backed Professor Mohamud in the run-off, said Somalia needed a change, and pledged to support the new leader.
Bloggers inside and outside Somalia had earlier reacted with dismay when Sheikh Ahmed won the first round of voting. “These MPs have clearly voted with their pockets,” wrote one.
The UN had earlier urged MPs to vote according to their conscience and not according to the threats or incentives offered by unscrupulous candidates. A Western diplomat told Reuters that Sheikh Ahmed’s supporters in the Gulf had spent $7 million to secure his re-election.
Britain’s Ambassador to Somalia, Matt Baugh, congratulated Professor Mohamud, via Twitter, and praised Sheikh Ahmed for being “magnanimous in defeat”.
He said the election was “a result for leadership, integrity and patience” and said now it was time “for Somalis to unite and work together”.
The Times UK
September 12, 2012Follow @somalilandpress