Somalia’s former Prime Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was yesterday elected President.
The 55-year-old father of 4, was elected after a 6-month voting process.
As president, Farmajo inherits a country where al-Shabaab extremists hold swathes of countryside and attack the capital, Mogadishu at will.
“This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against al-Shabaab and corruption,” a triumphant Farmajo said after being declared president.
Many Somalis fondly remember the 8 months when Farmajo – whose nickname means “cheese” – was prime minister in 2010-11.
On his Facebook page, Farmajo says that while premier, he implemented the first monthly stipends for soldiers, worked on the country’s new constitution and sent delegations to defuse clan-related tensions in several regions.
In his time as prime minister, Farmajo also established an anti-corruption commission, prohibited unnecessary trips abroad by members of government and put in place an audit of government property and vehicles. In 2011, after months of political infighting over the holding of presidential elections, a deal was struck to postpone the vote in exchange for Farmajo’s resignation.
He agreed to step down in “the interest of the Somali people and the current situation in Somalia”. In early 2012 Farmajo and members of his former cabinet set up the Tayo (“Quality”) political party.
On his Facebook page, he says that the party’s priority was “encouraging the repatriation of Somali diasporans so as to assist in the post-conflict reconstruction process.”
He was born in Mogadishu to activist parents from the southern Gedo region.
He worked at the foreign ministry before the overthrow of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991 ushered in decades of anarchy. He also worked at the Somali embassy in Washington.
Prior to his being appointed prime minister, he spent several years working in New York for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and the Erie County Division of Equal Employment Opportunity, as well as the New York State Department of Transportation.