Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is Somalia’s new leader

Somalia’s new President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is not new to the job. He served as Somalia’s eighth President from 2012 to 2017 and lost the election in 2017 to the outgoing President, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo”.

He made history on Sunday by becoming president in the troubled Horn of Africa nation for the second time in the country’s most competitive election in its history, which went into a third round of voting.

With a background in education, the former peace activist’s election campaign was focused on ensuring Somalis were united and were at peace with the rest of the world – something he did not fail to mention immediately after he was sworn in early on Monday morning.

“I promise you that we will closely work with regional states and our international partners,” he said.

His tone sounded reconciliatory and he promised the Somali people that he would work for everyone.

In the end, he won a huge majority in the third-round ballot with 214 votes against Mr Farmajo’s 110, gaining revenge against the man who beat him in 2017.

Mr Mohamud spent most of the last two years in Mogadishu, campaigning for the elections to be held on time and as promised.

He was among the coalition of opposition candidates who were opposed to the attempt by former President Farmajo to extend his term in office by two years.

In February 2021, he came under fire after security forces raided his hotel in Mogadishu to stop protests the opposition candidates were planning in the capital.

He was one of the very few leaders who stayed in Somalia throughout the 30-year civil war.

The incoming president inherits a country plagued by multiple challenges, including a severe drought that the United Nations (UN) is warning, which could escalate to famine if not addressed. Over 3.5 million people need urgent food aid and are at risk of starvation.

He will also have to tackle the rising cost of living and rampant inflation sparked by the war in Ukraine.

Another challenge he needs to confront is the growing rift between the federal government and regional states, which remains a huge concern throughout his predecessor’s presidency. He is well placed to do this, having created some of those states in his first term. -BBC

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