Former Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the president again on Sunday in a vote conducted by legislators behind blast barriers in an airfield hangar, as a public poll in the war-torn nation remained unthinkable.
Mohamud, 66, defeated Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the incumbent president, in a runoff following three rounds of voting throughout the day. In and around the capital city of Mogadishu, supporters hailed the outcome with cheers and gunfire.
Mohamud has a formidable challenge in the Horn of Africa nation of 15 million people afflicted by drought, famine, and apparently endless violence.
Residents reported hearing mortar shell explosions near the airport where legislators were convening in Mogadishu. There was no claim of responsibility, and the explosions did not disrupt the election, but Somalis are accustomed to al Shabaab militants attacking governmental institutions.
The United Nations-backed vote was postponed for more than a year owing to government bickering, but it had to be held this month in order to secure a $400 million International Monetary Fund programme.
It occurred during Somalia’s worst drought in four decades and against the depressingly typical backdrop of al Shabaab bloodshed, security force infighting, and clan rivalry.
Since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has faced civil war, insurgency, and clan warfare without a strong central authority.
Despite the fact that holding the process was a success in a sense, many Somalis remained sceptical of any actual improvement. They stated that the leading contenders were recycled faces from the past who had done little to combat strife and corruption.
Somalis assert that bribery has long dominated the voting process.
Due to insecurity, Somalia is unable to hold a direct election, as the government has little control beyond the capital and peacekeepers maintain an Iraq-style “Green Zone.”
“This election is our only hope,” said medical student Nur Ibrahim.
“No life exists in Somalia. We study, and then terrorists bomb us. Without peace, education has no value.”