Hassan Zak Mohamed, who was president from 2012 to 2017, was re-elected this Sunday, May 15, under the leadership of Somalia. He received 165 votes, more than the number of votes needed to defeat incumbent President Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, Fermajo said.
Five years later, he is back in power: In a famine-stricken country plagued by the uprising of radical Islamists Shebab, Somalia on Sunday re-elected its president, Hassan Zak Mohammed, for a second term.
After a marathon vote, between 2012 and 2017, President Hassan Zak Mohammed defeated Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed, the outgoing head of state known as Farmajo, who defeated him five years ago. Celebratory shootings echoed in the capital, Mogadishu. “It is truly significant that the President is here by my side, we must move forward, never back down, we must heal our wounds,” the new president declared, immediately investing, referring to his predecessor Pharmajo.
First round with 36 candidates
“I congratulate my brother here, the new President Hassan Zak Mohammed, congratulations on facing the enormous task that awaits him,” the latter promised his “unity.” The election comes after a delay of more than a year in this unstable country in the horn of Africa that is reeling from a protracted political crisis plagued by a historic drought.
Delegates and senators began voting Sunday to determine the 36 presidential candidates under a curfew set up around the Mogadishu airport, where security forces are everywhere. An explosion was heard near the airport as voting began, a reminder of how dangerous the security situation in the country is. However, no casualties were reported, police said.
After several hours of voting on national television, the complex election process has entered its third and final phase, with two more candidates vying, with outgoing President Fermajo and his predecessor Hassan Zak Mohammed, as they were five years ago. During the final ballot, parliamentary officials counted more than 165 votes in favor of Hassan Zak Mohammed and hailed his victory. The two finalists will be among the four who qualified after the first round of voting.
Year of the political crisis
Formajo’s term ended in February 2021, without agreement with regional leaders on the conduct of new elections.
The two-year extension of his mandate by MPs in April 2021 sparked fighting in Mogadishu, reviving the memory of the decades-long civil war that ravaged the country after 1991. The recent months have been marked by growing competition between Fermajo and its prime minister. He accused Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble of organizing the elections. “We are tired of living in uncertainty … I hope a president will be elected and today will mark the end of this circus,” Mukhtar Ali, a resident of Mogadishu, told the AFP on Sunday.
Elections follow a complex indirect system in which state legislatures and representatives of numerous clans and sub-clans elect members of the legislature who nominate the president. “Based on the results, it is very difficult to predict Somali politics,” said Omar Mahmoud, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
In this precarious environment, people tend to vote for a particular continuum, as assessed by Samira Gait, managing director of the Hiral company, which specializes in security matters, before the election. “People will not go to the new face, they will definitely go to the old faces, the people they identify with, the people they feel most comfortable with,” he told the AFP.
The proliferation of Shebab attacks
Over the past year and a half, the international community has multiplied calls to end the election, believing that delays will divert officials from fighting Shebab, a radical Islamist ally who has led the insurgency in the country for 15 years. Years before the election, European diplomat Joseph Borel commented in a tweet that “it is time for Somalia’s leadership to focus on building reconciliation and peace.”
In recent months, Shebab has intensified their attacks, most notably the bloody double attack on the center of the country on March 24 (48 dead), followed by a major offensive against the African Union Army base (10 killed in one step. Official record). This election will be crucial for the economic future of Somalia, where 71% of the population lives on less than $ 1.90 a day (80 1.80).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the aid program will automatically close on May 17 if a new administration fails to act. The government was asked at the end of April to postpone the deadline for three months, without responding this time. The country is facing the worst drought in decades. Humanitarian organizations fear a famine like the one in 2011 that killed 260,000 people.
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