Former Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the presidency for a second time by defeating incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Reuters reports.
Mohamud, who led the country from 2012 to 2017, won by a vote of 214-110 in a third-round runoff that wasn’t officially confirmed until around midnight.
After a year of delay due to government infighting, the United Nations-sanctioned vote had to be held this month to ensure a $400 million International Monetary Fund program.
Defying strict curfew orders, supporters of Mohamud poured into the street in celebration of the stunning victory.
“We have to move ahead, we do not need grudges. No avenging,” Mohamud said in his acceptance speech from the airport compound in the Somalian capital city of Mogadishu.
“We hope this time Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will improve and become a better leader. We hope Somalia will be peaceful, though this may take time,” said Mohamed Ismail, a Somali student.
Despite Mohamud’s victory, many Somalis are skeptical that real change can take place. Currently, the country of 15 million is enduring its worst drought in 40 years and has been in conflict since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Also, Al Shabab, a terrorist group, controls much of the country.
“Hassan Sheikh is not good but he is the lesser of the two evils. We hope Somalia will be better,” said Halima Nur, a Somali mother-of-four .
In defeat, Mohamed offered his support to Mohamud.
“Let us pray for the new president, it is a very tedious task,” said Mohamed.
In spite of all the obstacles that his administration will encounter, Mohamud pledged to work to put the country on the right path.
“Our country needs to go forward, not to go back,” said Mohamud, after being sworn in early Monday. “I promise to build a Somalia that is in harmony with itself and is in harmony with the world.”