Somalia's presidential election heads into second round

09 February, 2017, 00:45 | Author: Essie Rivera

Ex-Prime Minister, Mohamed, beat President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in what analysts described as a surprise result.

In a congratulatory message to the new president, Sheik Mohamud said "History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo". Witnesses tell VOA's Somali service that celebrations - and celebratory gunfire - have broken out in the streets of the Somali capital.

Farmajo a diplomat and professor was Prime Minister of Somalia from 2010 to 2011.

A Somali lawmaker casts her ballot during the presidential vote at the airport in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 8, 2017.

Although the election is billed as its most democratic in almost five decades, only 14,000 delegates were able to vote for the lawmakers who went on to elect the president.

The airport, where the vote was taking place, was guarded by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM and is surrounded by high concrete barriers to protect it from attack.

"I hope they will not choose bribes over the interest of the people." said Ahmed Hassan, a 26-year-old university student, who sat with dozens of men in front of a large television screen.

"This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against Shabaab and corruption", a triumphant Farmajo said after being declared president.

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Mohamed, 54, is a dual U.S. -Somalia citizen living in the town of Grand Island.

The election process started in October, and lawmakers began voting Tuesday.

He went on to work in the foreign ministry and as a diplomat in Washington before the collapse of Siad Barre's military regime in 1991 which led to civil war and decades of anarchy in Somalia. There were no public statements by al-Shabab on Wednesday.

TRT World's Fidelis Mbah brings more information on Somalia.

As well as tackling the Islamist insurgency, the new president also has to deal with a severe food crisis in parts of the country, a young population demanding jobs and empty state coffers.

Millions of dollars are reported to have changed hands in the election, with parliamentarians candidates buying seats and votes for anywhere between $5,000 to $30,000 dollars (£3,990-£24,000).

Somalia aims to hold direct elections in 2020, giving ordinary Somalis a chance to vote. Years of conflict, al-Shabab attacks and starvation left this Horn of Africa country of about 12 million people largely shattered.

Pervasive corruption is one of the biggest complaints among ordinary Somalis and Western donors.

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