After a long night of voting the newly expanded Somali parliament elected opposition leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as the new president of the Horn of Africa nation, as the United Nations envoy to the country applauded the “open and transparent” nature of the voting.
President Sheikh Sharif, who heads the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), is expected to form a government of national unity, in a bid to bring stability to a country that has not had a functioning central government since 1991.
It took two rounds of voting from the Transitional Federal Parliament, which had added 275 members earlier in the week to accommodate the ARS, because now President Sheikh Sharif failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority in the first ballot, which included 11 candidates.
UN Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah noted that during the first round of voting, lawmakers had given strong support to both President Sheikh Sharif and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, the two leading figures in the ongoing UN-brokered Djibouti peace process.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah praised the “open and transparent manner” in which the two rounds of voting were carried out.
“We are finally seeing progress from the hard work by all sides to create an inclusive Parliament,” he said. “I would like to congratulate and encourage all the Parliamentarians to work for the good of the country.”
The Special Representative said he was pleased that the candidates had pledged to support a government of national unity based on inclusion, tolerance and political cooperation in a country that has been plagued by violence and humanitarian suffering.