11 Oct 2012

Somalia inaugurates elected president after 20 years of strife


Somalia's new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office on Sunday, calling for an end to terrorism and piracy in a nation mired in conflict for more than two decades. Mohamud, a teacher and activist, won the election last week against outgoing President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed by the legislative vote of 190 to 79.

Among those in attendance were Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Ethiopia's incoming Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, AU Chairman Jean Ping, UN Special Envoy for Somalia Augustine Mahiga and other officials from the AU, UN and Arab League. 

The attempt on Mohamud's life on his second day in office highlighted the serious security challenges he faces as he takes the helm of a volatile country that has not had a stable government for more than two decades. Mohamud himself acknowledged this fact, saying in his inauguration remarks that security was the paramount issue. 

He promised to be a democrat and to create "an effective justice system" that serves all Somalis."I promise (that) my government will deliver a new democratic beginning," he told a congregation at the Police Academy, the same venue where he was elected. His predecessor, Ahmed, said in his remarks that he was happy that a degree of security had returned to Mogadishu. He wished Mohamud success.

The U.N.-backed political process that resulted in Mohamud's election was condemned by Islamist militants who said it was manipulated by the West. But Mohamud has the support of the international community, which wants him to succeed and bring stability to the troubled Horn of Africa nation.

Augustine Mahiga, the top U.N. representative to Somalia, said the inauguration of Mohamud was a watershed moment for Somalia. "This marks the end of the transitional period and the beginning of a new era for Somalia," Mahiga said in a statement. "The change that was envisioned ... has arrived. The process was transparent, representative and Somali-owned and led."

Aweys Nuur (NAYD Somalia)