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Crisis-hit Somalia Elects New President - Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo

The new president is known as Farmajo, Italian for cheese
The new president is known as Farmajo, Italian for cheese

Somalia's MPs have elected a Somali-US national as the country's new president in a vote held in an aircraft hangar.

Ex-Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed beat President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in a surprise result.

The vote was held at the heavily guarded airport complex in the capital, Mogadishu, as the rest of the country is too dangerous.

Traffic was banned and a no-fly zone imposed over the city to prevent attacks by militant Islamists.

Despite this, suspected militants fired mortar rounds close to the venue on Tuesday night.

Somalia has not had a one-person one-vote democratic election since 1969.

That vote was followed by a coup, dictatorship and conflict involving clan militias and Islamist extremists.

Mr Mohamed's election is part of a lengthy and complex process to help the East African state rebuild its democracy and achieve stability.

More than 20,000 African Union (AU) troops are stationed in Somalia to prevent militant Islamist group al-Shabab from overthrowing the weak government.

The new president is popularly known as "Farmajo", Italian for cheese, because of his love for the dairy product.

Much of Somalia was a former Italian colony.

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Date Published : Wednesday, February 08, 2017