According to news reports from Mogadishu, Somalia has elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as its new president. But this statement is far from the truth because, in reality, the choice of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president was decided by 329 persons.
Before the elections, the cities of Somalia were covered with posters of the over three dozen aspirants who contested elections. Critics condemned the act, which they said further exposed the idiosyncrasy of the political class towards the electorates.
They argued that politicians were not supposed to carry out campaigns or display political banners when citizens would not be allowed to vote in the elections.
Who would vote? Well, the overly delayed elections would be decided by the country’s 329 MPs, and it would take place in a heavily fortified area – away from public scrutiny.
What this means is that only 329 citizens would decide the next president of Somalia out of the 39 candidates contesting for the seat.
Who Did the 329 MP’s Choose as Somalia’s Next President?
The MP’s have elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the president of Somalia for the second time, defeating incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed in a final round.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, and won the contest in the capital, Mogadishu, amid a security lockdown imposed by authorities to prevent deadly rebel attacks.
After a marathon poll involving 36 candidates that were broadcast live on state TV, parliamentary officials counted more than 165 votes in favour of Mohamud, more than the number required to defeat incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
What Did Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Say?
Mohamud had promised during campaigning that his government would be inclusive, acknowledging the mistakes of his previous government, which faced multiple corruption allegations and was seen as aloof to the concerns of rival groups.
He now inherits several challenges from his predecessor, including an increasing number of attacks from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group and a devastating drought that threatens to drive millions into famine.
How Did Citizens Receive the News?
Supporters of Somalia’s new leader defied the curfew to pour onto the streets of Mogadishu, cheering and firing guns as it became clear that Mohamud had won the vote.
Mohamed, who is also known as Farmaajo, conceded defeat, and Mohamud was immediately sworn in.
The new president struck a conciliatory tone in his acceptance speech from the airport compound in Mogadishu, which was patrolled by African Union (AU) peacekeepers.
“It is indeed commendable that the president is here standing by my side,” Mohamud said, referring to the former leader, who had sat with him as ballots were counted.
“We have to move ahead; we do not need grudges. No avenging,” he said.