Yesterday, Somalia’s new parliament selected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s new president. The voting proceeded in three rounds; the first round yielded four candidates, including incumbent President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and former Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. Ali and another candidate dropped out of the second round, and so Sheikh Ahmed and Mohamud went directly into the third round, which Mohamud won 190 to 79. As of a few weeks ago I had the impression that many analysts expected Sheikh Ahmed to win re-election; Mohamud’s selection comes as a surprise to some.
Reuters has a sketch biography of Mohamud:
Mohamud [born 1955 and from Jalalaqsi in central Somalia] graduated from the Somali National University in 1981 before obtaining a master’s degree in education from India’s Bhopal University in 1988.
During the early years of Somalia’s civil conflict, he worked for the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF.
In 1999, the fluent English speaker co-founded the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development in Mogadishu, which later became Simad University, and served as its dean until 2010.
In 2011, he founded the Peace and Development Party.
International media coverage of Mohamud has been largely positive so far, although different outlets have characterized his background in different ways. A few examples:
- Xinhua: “The civic activist and academic is seen as new breed of leaders coming to power in the war ravaged Horn of Africa nation following the similar landslide victory for the new speaker of the Somali parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari.”
- New York Times: “Mohamud, a moderate political activist and academic, took on one of the world’s most challenging political posts on Monday.”
- BBC: “Mohamud could represent a different kind of future for the country because he is not associated with the violence and corruption of the past.”
AFP‘s article on Mohamud is well worth reading – it stresses how little the world knows about him, and includes a few morsels on his religious background and his experience holding talks with Al Shabab. AFP stresses, “Unlike many Somali political figures, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is not part of the diaspora. The new president has never served as a minister, nor, up until the past few days, as an MP.”
Last but not least, here is an article on Mohamed Osman Jawari, the new speaker of parliament.
What is your opinion of the election, and of Mohamud?