September 11, 2012
Somali citizens and political leaders welcomed the outcome of the presidential election in Mogadishu on Monday (September 10th), which resulted in a victory for academic and civil society activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, leader of the Peace and Development Party.
Mohamud defeated former Transitional Federal Government President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in the second round of voting, 190 to 79.
Analysts have described the election, the first of its kind in Somalia in over two decades, as an historic accomplishment for Somalia and the beginning of the country's transition to democracy.
Political analyst and university professor Ahmed Moalim Ahmed said Mohamud's victory is the start of a new stage in Somalia's political transition.
"We hope that this historic step of electing a new president for the country will usher in a new era of stability and end the civil war," Ahmed told Sabahi. "Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's victory as president is an indication that Somalia has entered a new stage and that the era of warlords is over and done with."
"We hope the conditions in the country improve and that as Somalis we will be able to overcome any difficulties that we have been through over the past years," he said.
Parliamentarians voted at the Police Academy in Mogadishu, with 271 out of 275 members in attendance.
Ahmed had a slight lead in the first round with 64 votes, while Mohamud followed with 60 votes. Third and fourth place candidates, former Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Abdulqadir Osoble Ali, dropped out of the second round, leaving Ahmed and Mohamud to battle it out.
After Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari announced the election results, members of parliament and others in the crowd spontaneously started singing the national anthem.
Minutes later, Mohamud was sworn in by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Aidid Abdullahi and took the oath of office.
"I swear under God's name that I will execute my duties with honesty and in the interest of the country, the people and the religion, and to protect the constitution and the other laws of the country," he said.
In his first speech, Mohamud thanked all those who participated in this historic event.
"I thank all members of parliament that voted for me and those who did not vote for me and I would also like to thank all the presidential candidates, especially the former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed," he said. "I also thank the international community which has been at Somalia's side to provide technical, financial and moral support."
"Now is the time for change in Somalia," Mohamud said.
Local satellite channels and radio stations reported live coverage of this historic moment and Somalis stayed up until after midnight on Monday to find out who would be the new president.
After the results were announced, the residents of Mogadishu rejoiced with celebratory gunfire heard late in the night.
Former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed acknowledged his defeat. "I would like to congratulate the winning president in these elections and I wish him success in the difficult mission that lies ahead," he said.
He lauded the transparency of the elections, which were held by secret ballot and hand counted by the head of the Presidential Election Committee Muse Hassan Abdullahi. The votes were read to the audience one-by-one as each ballot was removed from the box in the presence of parliamentarians and international observers.
"I am willing to hand over power in a smooth and peaceful manner to the elected president and I am willing to work with him," Ahmed said.
Abdifatah Mohamud, a political analyst in Mogadishu, said Ahmed's acceptance of the election results reflects the political maturity of Somali politicians and is an indication of transparent and democratic elections.
"Accepting the results is a landmark of the democratic process and saves the country from the conditions of war and the factors leading to division and splintering in the country," he told Sabahi.
Mohamud expressed confidence in the ability of the new Somali leadership to take advantage of this historic opportunity to build a new Somali state after years of suffering and destruction.
Unlike many Somali political figures, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is not part of the diaspora. He neither served as a minister nor, up until recently, as a member of parliament.
In his party's manifesto, Mohamud said he wanted to "build a society free from the demons of clan politics, from fear and from internal conflicts".
Mohamud was born in 1955 in the city of Jalalaqsi in the Hiran region of central Somalia.
After completing his secondary education, Mohamud attended the Somali National University and he graduated with a Bachelor's in Technology in 1981. In 1984, he joined the Technical Teachers' Training College as a lecturer and in 1986 he became head of department.
Mohamud then moved to India to complete his studies where he obtained a Master's in Technical Education from Bhopal University in 1988.
Upon his return to Somalia, Mohamud worked as an academic and civil society activist with several international and national peace and development organisations.
In 1993, Mohamud worked with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as an education official in southern and central Somalia until the UN left Somalia in 1995. Mohamud also worked as a consultant with several local and international organisations to work on resolving the political crisis in Somalia.
In 1999, Mohamud took part in establishing the Somali Institute of Management and Administrative Development in Mogadishu, and served as the dean of the university for ten years.
In 2011, Mohamud founded the Peace and Development Party, and in August of this year he was selected as a member of the new Somali parliament.
Mohamud is married with children and he speaks Somali and English fluently.
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