So who is Somalia’s new president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed better known as Farmajo (the nickname means “cheese”)?
Farmajo is a 55 year old father of four, veteran diplomat and former prime minister of Somalia. He holds both American and Somali citizenship. He was born in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to activist parents from the southern Gedo region.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has been living off and on in the United States where he studied history and political science.
He worked at the foreign ministry before the overthrow of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991 ushered in decades of anarchy. He also worked at the Somali embassy in Washington. Before being appointed prime minister he spent several years working in New York for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and the Erie County Division of Equal Employment Opportunity, as well as the New York State Department of Transportation.
He was prime minister until 2011 when after months of political infighting over the holding of presidential elections, a deal was struck to postpone the vote in exchange of his resignation. He agreed to step down in “the interest of the Somali people and the current situation in Somalia”.
In early 2012 Farmajo and members of his former cabinet set up the Tayo (“Quality”) political party.
On his Facebook page, he says that the party’s priority was “encouraging the repatriation of Somali diasporans so as to assist in the post-conflict reconstruction process.”
Farmajo hopes he can be the answer to corruption and extremism in the world’s most notorious failed state. The president who is of the Darood clan was welcomed with celebration by many Somalis who had looked forward to change after a series of Hawiye presidents.
“This is the beginning of unity for the Somali nation, the beginning of the fight against Shabaab and corruption,” a triumphant Farmajo said after being declared president.