Somalia elects Hassan Sheik Mohamud as president for the second time

UN agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe unless early action is taken to avert famine.

Somalia handed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud the presidency for the second time after Sunday’s long-awaited election in the troubled Horn of Africa nation facing an Islamist insurgency and the threat of famine.

After a marathon poll involving 36 candidates and broadcast live on state television, parliamentary officials counted 214 votes in favor of former President Mohamud, far more than the number required to defeat the current Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as farm.

Mohamud, who was previously president from 2012 to 2017, was sworn in shortly after the votes were counted and struck a conciliatory tone as he addressed the country.

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“I welcome my brother, the new president Hassan Sheik Mohamud, and wish him luck with the enormous task… we will stand in solidarity with him,” Farmajo said.

In a reminder of the country’s treacherous security situation, explosions were heard on Sunday near the heavily guarded Mogadishu airport complex where parliamentarians were voting. Police said no casualties were reported in the blasts.

Somalia has not held a one-person election and vote in 50 years. Instead, the polls follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates elect legislators to the national parliament, who in turn elect the president.

“People aren’t going to be looking for a new face, they’re definitely going to be looking for old faces, people they recognize, people they feel more comfortable with,” he said.

It will inherit several challenges from its predecessor, including a devastating drought that threatens to push millions into famine.

It will also have to repair the damage caused by months of political chaos and infighting, both at the executive level and between the central government and state authorities.

“This long-awaited election has been divisive. Reconciliation is the most immediate challenge,” Mahmood told AFP.

The heavily indebted country is also at risk of losing access to a three-year $400 million (€380 million) aid package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will automatically expire in mid-May if a new administration it is not in place by then.

More than 70 percent of the Somali population lives on less than $1.90 a day.

Two suicide bombings in March killed 48 people in central Somalia, including two local lawmakers.

Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents controlled Mogadishu until 2011, when they were pushed out by an African Union force, but still hold territory in the countryside.

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