Former Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the presidency again in voting by parliamentarians on Sunday in an airport hangar protected by blast walls from Islamist insurgents whom he must now fight for a second time.
The 66-year-old, who ruled from 2012 to 2017, reversed the previous election to defeat incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed by 214-110 votes in a third-round runoff whose result was confirmed around midnight.
“We have to move ahead, we do not need grudges. No avenging,” Mohamud said in his acceptance speech from the airport compound in the capital Mogadishu patrolled by African Union (AU) peacekeepers.
Supporters defied a curfew to pour onto the streets of Mogadishu, cheering and firing guns into the air.
The former education campaigner and peace activist faces a daunting task in the nation of 15 million people which is suffering its worst drought in four decades and has endured seemingly never-ending conflict since 1991.
Though just holding the election was a success of sorts, many Somalis were sceptical of any real improvement.
Most of the 36 candidates were old faces recycled from the past who had done little to stem war and corruption, they complained. Votes are anyway influenced more by money changing hands than political platforms, Somalis and analysts say.
“Hassan Sheikh is not good but he is the lesser of the two evils. We hope Somalia will be better,” said Halima Nur, a mother-of-four in Mogadishu.
“We hope this time Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will improve and become a better leader. We hope Somalia will be peaceful, though this may take time,” said student Mohamed Ismail.