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article imageSomalia elects a new president

By Layne Weiss     Sep 11, 2012 in World
Mogadishu - Members of Somalia's Parliament elected a new president Monday. Political newcomer Hassan Sheikh Mohamud beat outgoing President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed 190 votes to 79 votes.
This is the first time since 1991, when President Said Barre was overthrown, that a Somali President has been chosen inside Somalia, The Guardian reports.
This is seen by the international community as a positive step as the once war-torn country is now transitioning into a more secure, peaceful nation.
"I am happy to see the first free and fair election happen in Somalia after 40 years," outgoing President Ahmed said in his concession speech, The AP reports. "I want to congratulate the new president for the fair election, and I want to declare that I am fully satisfied with the results."
Speaking on his victory, newly elected President Mohamud said, "I congratulate all Somalis. The people are now taking a new direction You are now ending a difficult path and taking a new one."
"I hope that problems of Somalia will come to an end and Somalia will now turn a new page and that page will be written in good history rather than bad history," Mr Mohamud continued according to The NY Times.
According to The Guardian, Mohamud, was a professor and activist before going into politics. He has worked for several peace and development organizations including UNICEF. Last year, he founded the Peace and Development party, which he claims is the first real political party in Mogadishu.
Mohamud's win Monday is seen as a bit of an upset, Reuters reports.
Outgoing Prime Minister Abdiwelli Mohamed Ali supported Mohamud and said Monday that "Somalia voted for change" by voting for Mohamud.
Abdirihad Hashi, an analyst on the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis group think tank said "nobody" thought Mohamud "had a chance to win," The AP reports.
Hashi said Mohamud's victory is a crucial step for change in Somalia, but that it will be impossible to fix all of Somalia's problems on his own.
"This is a step in the right direction, but Somalia's problems are too big to solve alone," he said.
According to Hashi these problems include "piracy at sea, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and a lack of institutions, The AP reports.
Somalia has already seen some improvements. Until last year, its capital, Mogadishu, was witness to devastating street battles between the Al-Qaeda linked militant group al-Shaabab and African soldiers. Now, Mogadishu is a booming, vibrant city where houses are being reconstructed as a way to get rid of all the wreckage and start anew, Reuters reports.
Another positive step for Somalia happened just last month when Somali leaders showed their approval for a new provisional constitution, which the UN helped write, The AP reports. The new constitution includes an expansion of rights for Somali citizens.
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