Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was elected president of Somalia on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
Outgoing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat after votes from the second round were tallied. Mr. Farmajo was subsequently sworn in as president.
Somalis celebrated in the streets and chanted their new president’s name, hoping that his tenure will usher in a new era of peace and stability for the troubled Horn of Africa country. The sound of gunfire rang throughout Mogadishu, the capital, but witnesses confirmed that they were merely celebratory gunshots fired in the air by jubilating soldiers.
“History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo,” Mr. Mohamud said.
Mr. Farmajo previously served as prime minister of Somalia for eight months before stepping down in 2011. He also worked in the United States with the Somali foreign affairs ministry.
“This victory represents the interest of the Somali people,” Mr. Farmujo said after taking his oath. “This victory belongs to Somali people, and this is the beginning of the era of the unity, the democracy of Somalia and that beginning of the fight against corruption.”
The contest was not a conventional popular vote in which all eligible citizens cast their ballots. Instead, some 14,000 elders and regional figures chose 275 members of parliament and 54 senators to decide the election.
The lawmakers then voted in a first round election, choosing between the incumbent president and twenty challengers. Mr. Mohamud won the first round, tallying 88 votes to Mr. Farmajo’s 72.
In the third round, however, Mr. Farmajo defeated the incumbent and former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and was consequently declared president.
Reuters reports that the voting exercise was conducted in Mogadishu’s highly secure airport amid threats of attacks from al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate that has wreaked havoc in Somalia for several years.
While Wednesday's election was conducted free of al-Shabaab attacks, the United Nations, U.S., European Union, and others warned of “egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process” in a joint statement issued a few weeks ago. The statement warned of intimidation and bribery of elders and lawmakers.