Published: Thu, February 09, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Somalia: Ex-prime minister wins presidential race

Somalia: Ex-prime minister wins presidential race

Instead, some 14,000 elders and regional figures chose 275 members of parliament and 54 senators to decide the election.

The incumbent president, Mohamud, was initially tipped as a favorite. Witnesses tell VOA's Somali service that celebrations - and celebratory gunfire - have broken out in the streets of the Somali capital.

He served as prime minister for only eight months between 2010 and 2011.

The vote was held at the heavily guarded airport complex in the capital, Mogadishu, due to security concerns.

The threat from Islamist al Shabaab rebels, who regularly launch attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere, meant the government and its Western backers scrapped a plan to give each adult a vote because of the challenge of securing polling stations.

Among the 22 candidates, many who also hold foreign passports, Somalia's incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is seeking re-election and may have an edge to win a second five-year term. "If I become a president, Somali government officials will not misuse revenue", he said in one speech. "This victory belongs to Somali people, and this is the beginning of the era of the unity, the democracy of Somalia and the beginning of the fight against corruption", Mr Farmajo said after taking the oath of office. These include drone strikes against al-Shabab leaders. He also worked at the Somali embassy in Washington. A Somali and American citizen, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1993 and a master's degree in 2009 from the State University of NY at Buffalo.

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Mohamud held a slight lead over Farmajo after an initial round of voting Wednesday that included a field of 21 candidates.

Somalia has not seen a powerful central government since former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled by warlords in 1991.

The activist organization Transparency International rated Somalia the most corrupt country on earth. Such countries are believed to be using Somalia's rampant corruption to land lucrative business deals and spy on American activities in the Horn of Africa, according to the New York Times. Weeks ago, a joint statement by the United Nations, the U.S., European Union and others warned of "egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process".

Somalia, marred by religious and clan conflict, has not had a one-person one-vote democratic election since 1969.

The long, drawn-out election has largely consisted of horsetrading between different clans, with widespread allegations of vote-buying and corruption, leaving it a distant process to the average Somali.

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