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Abdullahi “Farmaajo” Elected as President of Somalia

Abdullahi Mohammed “Formaajo”, a dual citizen of Somalia and the USA was elected president of Somalia on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in the third round. For roughly a year between 2010-2011, Formaajo had served as prime minister of Somalia.

Together with Hassan Sheikh Hassan, the outgoing president, they are credited for bringing Somalia this far from the bloody chaos it has experienced since the downfall of Ziad Barre who ruled Somalia with an iron fist from 1969 to 1991.

The outgoing president, and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of the Islamic courts and ex-president of Somalia between 2009-2012, were the main contenders for the presidency among the twenty candidates running for the office of the president. However, the populist candidate Abdulahi Formaajo won the day.

The presidential election in Somalia has been received with jubilation in “the Horn of Africa and beyond…Somalia that many tyrants make fun of, had carried out several successful parliamentary elections and had just finished its third peaceful and timely presidential election.”

In the brief period when he was the prime minister, Abdullahi Formaajo had alienated some neighboring countries due to his anti-foreign intervention policies. He strongly criticized the donor nations for lavishly spending tens of millions of dollars on the forces of The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), while providing a fraction of the amount estimated at three-million US dollars, to rebuild Somali security forces.

AMISOM commands an approximately 22,000 strong force in Somalia at an estimated monthly salary of $1000 per person paid by donors to the countries providing the forces. However, insiders allege the monthly salary paid to the soldiers is not more than $100 monthly.

According to observers, when he was the prime minister, Formaajo had annoyed some countries for criticizing the way the donor nation security funds were allocated and channeled, “particularly when these countries were providing his personal guards and security details.”

Uganda provides over 6000 troops followed by Burundi over 5000, Ethiopia over 4000, Kenya over 3000, and Djibouti 2000, while Nigeria, Ghana. and Sierra Leone provide nominal numbers of police forces.

In 2006, Ethiopian forces entered Somalia in hot pursuit of AlShabab whom it accused of carrying out terrorist attacks inside Ethiopia. A retired Ethiopian diplomat said, “Ethiopia suffered great losses to help stabilize Somalia and the current peaceful election is a reward to Ethiopia, a country that bled so much to help the central government secure the war-ravaged country.”

A Western diplomat who was involved in Somali affairs said, that “president Formaajo has started a bold campaign to restructure Somalia institutions beginning with the security and finance institutions…that made him popular among Somalis, particularly among Women and youth whose support brought him to the presidency.”

When he returned to Somalia after a few years’ absence since he left the position of prime minister, “Abdullahi Formaajo was received at the airport by a crowd estimated in the tens of thousands, the largest crowd ever in modern Somali history.”

In his speech after he took the oath of office, Formaajo wished that the next time around, Somalis will elect their president directly instead of indirectly through the parliament.

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  • Blue Asmara

    Salam All. Colonel Gebre’s face was a study in distress. Ethiopia’s ubiquitous pro-consul, who has never concealed his sense of entitlement to decide Somalia’s future, was crestfallen as the results of the Somali Parlament’s vote came in. Ethiopia’s man and that of the West, Sharif Sheik Ahmed, had lost. In his anger, Colonel Gebre was thereafter involved in a small scuffle and arrested and placed in a cell. He was quickly released but for many, the incident stood as a symbol of a changed mood in the capitol.

  • said

    Somalia’s electoral process was far from universal suffrage. About 14,000 people were chosen by 135 elders of the politically powerful clans to elect 275 members of parliament and 54 senators. These legislators then elected the head of state. the new president. Mr Mohamed, elected this week in a poll deemed so dangerous it took place in the heavily fortified airport, was seen by the public as the cleanest candidate in a contest riddled with corruption. The new president has a formidable task. Somalia has not had an effective government for more than 25 years. The security situation is so bad that 20,000 foreign troops are needed to contain a decade-long insurgency. Security is top of the list. The Somali National Army exists on paper but barely functions on the ground, despite receiving billions of dollars in aid. Clan militias do much of the fighting.
    This victory represents the interest of the Somali people,” said Mr Farmaajo, who served as prime minister from 2010-2011, after taking the oath of office. “This victory belongs to Somali people, and this is the beginning of the era of unity, the democracy of Somalia and the beginning of the fight against corruption.” Mr Farmaajo, who was born in 1962, was “a vote for change” and “of the top four candidates the one least associated with bribery and corruption”. He attributed the victory partly to about half of the MPs being fresh faces who are younger and better educated than their predecessors. Somalia has rolled out a fledgling federal system but the constitutional review needed to formalise the relationship between the centre and the states has not yet taken place. In some areas state control barely goes beyond the main towns. There are no formal judicial or taxation systems. The vacuum has allowed a private sector to thrive, but has left the government not enough of funds needed. however. Last November, the government unveiled its first national development plan in 25 years. It has also started to implement reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund in order to qualify for assistance.
    The problem of some Somalis the former ruling class and clan leaders greed for power and corrupt elite with such little compassion for their fellow poor Somalis citizens.
    Many Somalis too are tempering any optimism with a realism borne of years of experience.
    Somaliland, the largest region of the country, has spun further out of the control of the central government, declaring itself an independent state in 1991. It refuses to engage with Mogadishu.

  • Thomas

    Dear Awatistas,

    Who in his right mind would think for Issayas to change course if the border issue with Ethiopia is resolved. Issayas when asked by foreign journalists has firmly said:

    a) election, after may be 3 or 4 decades
    b) no one has had me (Issayas) to sign a contract

    Issayas has long adminited that he has no plan to step down or to have an election. Furthermore, on the constitution Issayas has clearly told us:

    a) The 1997 constitution has long died.
    b) He is drafting a new one. On his last month interview with Eri-TV, Issayas said something about the road map (has to do with pfdj guide/policy law) is on its way. That does seem to be talking about something that has to do with pfdj not about the national constitutions.

    So, border resolved or not resolved it has nothing to do with governing the country. Issayas will always be Issayas. I strongly believe Issayas without any external threat will even get worst to his own people. Right now, he seemed more threatened by the international community (including Ethiopia) than the Eritrean people. For some reasons, he has not started taking us seriously until we start talking the language he understands, do it with the power of guns.

  • said

    A former prime minister, was chosen for the top job, capping a clan-based electoral process .A man everyone calls Cheese won Mr. Mohamed, better known in Somalia by his nickname, Farmajo Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Wednesday after he was elected president of Somalia . Mr. Mohamed enjoys wide support within Somalia’s army .many Somalis considered Mohamed the protest candidate and less manipulated by foreign interests than the departing president, Hassan Sheikh was reported ,he is the least corrupt and most-well-liked candidate won Somalia’s most corrupt and least democratic election. Mr. Mohamed, seeing him as the most organized — and least crooked — of the contenders.
    since the central government collapsed in 1991, did not hold direct elections. direct elections too dangerous to hold direct elections because of the persistent threat. Mr. Mohamud, the incumbent, handily won the first round of voting, leading Mr. Mohamed by 88 to 72 votes in a field of more than 20 candidates.
    Indirect election in which Somalia’s regions and its myriad clans, subclans and subsubclans chose 329 members of Parliament, and those members of Parliament then voted for Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as president. In the second round of voting, the other presidential contenders threw their weight behind Mr. Mohamed. He won, 184 to 97.

  • Ahmed Idris

    A country been ruled by an iron fist, for a long period of time , the normal result will be sliding into chaos, I hope Eritrea will be the exception to this rule, in it’s transitional transformation from a Totalitarian regime to a democratic country. .
    Anyway, congratuations to the first democratically eleted government in horn of Africa.
    I hope the wind of change will blow across all of the Horn of Africa countries. .

    • Robel Cali

      Hi Ahmed

      I don’t think this was a real exercise of democracy since the cabinet were the ones who voted him to power.

      • Saleh Johar


        Allow me to correct you. First, the cabinet is not even formed to elect a president. Second, cabinet doesn’t elect th president.

        This is how it goes: the parliament elects a president, who appoints a prime minister, who appoints ministers and forms a cabinet. That is how it is done in many democracies around the world–the election system could be direct or indirect as far as individuals are concerned

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Merhaba Saleh (SGJ),

          The second paragraph of your comment makes me to wonder, if there are parliamentary institutions that have the power “to elect a president, appoints prime minister, and appoints minsters, and forms a cabinets” in a democratic institutional nations (if we can call a democratic institutions at all). Can you educate us or mention some countries that have this kind of institutional structure?

          Even France that has complicate (semi-hybrid) and “semi-presidential system”, the “president” is elected by universal suffrage of popular vote, and the “prime minister” is chosen by the president, though the chosen prime mister should command the support of a majority in the assembly. “When the majority of the Assembly has opposite political views to that of the president, this leads to political cohabitation. In that case, the president’s power is diminished, since much of the de facto power relies on a supportive prime minister and National Assembly, and is not directly attributed to the post of president” But when the majority of the Assembly is on his side “the President can take a more active role and may, in effect, direct government policy. The prime minister is then the personal choice of the President, and can be easily replaced if the administration becomes unpopular.” And of course, the president names and dismisses ministers.

          Other the unique example of governmental institutions of France which has no any semblance to that of Somalia, I can’t find any country that address your assertion. Can you help us out for more information about your assertions? Remember the 1997 constitutional framers use in their argument that they have envisioned from the French “semi-presidential system”. As I have described their French system in a nutshell, it is not even close to it and does not give excess power to the office of presidency.

          Amanuel Hudrat

        • Robel Cali

          Salam SJ

          You are right. My error on that.

          According to the AFP: “Though Somalis were promised a direct election for 2016, political leaders instead designed an indirect vote: 14,025 delegates chosen by 135 clan elders are electing members of the lower house of parliament. The clan elders are choosing the upper house members, and the two houses of parliament will then elect a president and prime minister by late January.”

          I think it’s a stretch to say this is real democracy.

          • Amde

            Selam Robel, SGJ

            It looks to me like a system to designed to generate elite consensus. That in and of itself is extremely important if it becomes successful in creating sustainable peace.

            It is interesting. For decades now we have been told the real political cleavages were along clan lines. A “democratic” system, i.e. along purely demographic lines that are effectively “clan-blind” might actually destroy the political basis for peace in Somali society. I guess it helps to think of “democracy” (universal suffrage in electing rulers) to be a demand of societies where class (let’s say peasant vs landholder) becomes a permanent barrier.

            If it is true that Somalia’s most intractable political cleavages are along clan and sub clans, then a system that addresses that is what is required.

            Perhaps they finally stumbled into an institutional arrange that works just for their realities. If it works, i wish them well.


  • Paulos


    Hope he delivers formajoo to the people for they have lived for far too long in stick, by stick and with stick. Somalia has defied a textbook logic where a homogeneous nation with a common language, culture and history should have it easy to establish a strong state with functioning democratic institutions. One can not help it but wonder if the outliers are the timing of history and the geographic location as well.

    • GitSAtSE

      Selamat (i)Paulos,

      I had decided to quickly lookup “Ying and Yang” for my comment on this good if not fantastic news for the neighborhood of East Africa. And I had in my to request a crash course on it’s meaning. For instance, I do not know which if the Ying is the good and the Yang is the evil, or the Yang is the male and the Ying is the femail etc… You can even go a bit further if you are like my self and see the Ying in iPaulos and the Yang in iSEM. Please expound on this or at least tell us which is which in the first case.

      GebreAmlax “frmajo” Msgina/Msgun’s election to be President of Somalia is indeed a hopeful beginning for Somalia as described by all the developments that has been achieved there.

      And hipefuly a very stable Somalia will further strengthen the painstakingly solidified grounds thus far since 1991 in both Eritrea and Ethiopia. Though who can forget that the end of bloodshed and war in both Eritrea and Ethiopia coincided with the beginning of Somalia’s. I pray it’s not a case of the Ying and Yang in HoA.

      But if the Universe is in fact as the Ying and Yang says it is, let’s hope that the Ying is the new President elect Abdulahi “Frmajo” Mohamed of Somalia and the Yang is the new President Donald Trump of USA.

      U wander why President Abdulahi’s Nick name is “Cheese”? Is he a cheese head from Wisconsin American citizen or does he smile a lot? Well Somalian People say cheeseeese as the world takes a picture of the beginning of your happy and prosperous days. Farmaaajjjjooooo!


    • Robel Cali

      Hi Paulos

      Clannish societies like Somalia are hardly homogeneous. Each sub-clan behave as they are a separate ethnic group. They even tell their children to marry within their sub-clan.

      For those wondering, Abdullahi Mohammed “Formaajo” is of the Darod clan and of the Merhan sub clan. The Merhans have been politically dominant in Somalia since it gained its independence from the Italy.

      • Paulos

        Selam Robel,

        I disagree. Somali is a homogeneous nation with a single tribe—Somali tribe with a single language and culture. Here is the deal: From a reductionist point of view, the basic unit is family, an extended family is a clan, largely extended clan makes a tribe. To be more precise, a clan is based on kinship again on family relations.

        • Robel Cali

          Hey Paulos

          There are different ethnic groups in Somalia. Off the top of my head, Somali bantus come to mind, there are also an Arab (yemeni) group. There are many dialects spoken in Somalia —dialects of which cause linguistic estrangement among these groups.

          The family structure is important but I think groups who use clan systems do so based on their environment. Desert like climate conditions means less resources, hence the need to be pastoralists. Clans are then formed as a survival mechanism to compete with other groups of people over scarce resources. This competitive mentality makes it hard for these clans to trust and work together, much less build a functioning democracy and a nation-state.

          • Paulos

            Selam Robel,

            Again I disagree. There is only one ethnic group in Somalia—Somali ethnicity. It is true that populations get influenced by their surroundings as in nature where also nurture comes to mind when the Somalis are from a predominantly a single genetic pool. As such, the fact that Somalis live in a seamless landscape, the argument that they differe in their psychological make up due to different exposure in environmental factors doesn’t hold water. When the clan difference was meant for a survival mechanism as in Kin-Selection, the harsh reality of politics (read: Realpolitik) got on the way where the different clans went against each other to get a better share with in the grand scheme of power. Think of the two famous feuding families, “The Montague and the Capulet” Shekispear’s play in “Romeo and Juliet.”

          • Robel Cali

            Hey Paulos

            Somali bantus come from Tanzania. They are not ethnically Somali. So the argument that Somalis are homogeneous needs several asterisks beside it.

            I also disagree that Somalia has a seamless landscape. That’s further from the truth. Jubaland, which is mainly inhabited by Marehans, is lush and tropical. While Somaliland is largely a desert. Sanaag of Maakhir region (disputed between Somaliland and Puntland) is mountainous and resembles that of the Eritrean highlands.

            Side note: One narrative that’s often missed when discussing the Somali civil war is the Somali pastoralists (nomads) disdain for being forced into cities and towns, which is what the Siad Barre regime attempted to do. One Somali friend who is well versed on Somali history even believes this was the true cause of the civil war. People forget, being a nomad is a way of life and is a culture. To be robbed of it is distressing. I actually believe in this narrative as a major contributing factor to the intensity of the war because when the Eritrean government tried to make the Rashaidas abandon their nomadic lifestyles in the early ’90s they were absolutely livid and had even made threatening remarks.

            As for the rest of your arguments, let’s agree to disagree.

            Take care!