Somalia pinning hopes on new boss
HOLDING high portraits of the man who pledges to bring the nation together, Somalis in the capital Mogadishu have hailed their new president – singing in joy while soldiers fired weapons skyward in celebration.
After decades of corruption and strife the incoming leader, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, faces a huge task rebuilding a battered state.
But those who took to the streets have placed their faith in the 55-year-old former prime minister nicknamed Farmajo (from formaggio, or “cheese” in Italian).
Farmajo served as premier for only eight months between 2010 and 2011, before being ousted. However, several steps he took – such as ensuring regular pay for soldiers – were well received and many protested against his removal.
Soldiers and police were among those optimistic about Farmajo’s victory, after incumbent president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud acknowledged defeat following a second round of voting by lawmakers.
Farmajo, from the Darod clan, in his victory speech spelled out the wrongs that have to be righted for Somalia to reverse its failed state reputation.
“This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against Shabaab and corruption,” he said.
Despite his win, the reality is the federal government controls only part of the country, helped by a 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) force.
The Shabaab holds large areas in the centre and south, and in the past year has multiplied its murderous attacks in the capital and at Amisom bases.
Somalia is also suffering its worst drought since 2010-2011.
POPULAR: New president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.