Somalia: What are the challenges facing President Farmajo as he is inaugurated today?

Farmajo pledged to tackle threat of al-Shabaab violence, famine and corruption.

Somalia’s newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo addresses lawmakers after winning the vote at the airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on 8 February 2017 Reuters/Feisal Omar

(IBTimes) — Elected on 8 February in a landmark vote in Somalia, President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed will be inaugurated today (22 February) in the capital, Mogadishu.

Farmajo will be the ninth president of Somalia since independence and the international community hopes his time in office will mark the start of a new era of stability in the war-torn nation.

During his electoral campaign, the former prime minister promised to fight emboldened Islamist terror group al-Shabaab, widespread corruption, and improve the daily life of Somalis amid a mostly man-made famine. The task ahead is immense.

Sunday’s suicide bombing in Mogadishu, which left 39 people dead and around 50 others injured, was a stark reminder of the number-one priority to restore security across the country.

To achieve this, Farmajo told representatives of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) he has given himself two years to eradicate al-Shabaab.

The group has been waging war against high-level government and civilian targets for more than six years in Somalia and neighbouring countries including Kenyaand Ethiopia, where Farmajo reportedly sent emissaries to reaffirm Somalia’s intention to work together to eradicate terrorism.

An internally displaced man looks at the carcasses of his goats and sheep in the outskirts of Dahar town of Puntland state in north-eastern Somalia, one of the areas most affected by the drought, on 15 December 2016 Reuters/Feisal Omar

As well as the threat of al-Shabaab, Farmajo currently faces a humanitarian emergency, where drought conditions are threatening Somalia’s already fragile population still reeling from decades of conflict.

Almost half the population – 6.2 million people – are facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes some 185,000 children, who are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year. The United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) suggested this figure is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.

The first act of Farmajo as president has been to convene a crisis meeting on the humanitarian emergency.

The new president will also have to deal with the legacy of the country’s fraught clan system. The traditional clan system allows for the denial of human rights to minority clans, who thus face economic marginalisation, according to Somali human rights activist Fadumo Dayib.

Pupils look through a broken window as they ride in their school bus at Hamar boarding school in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, in this file photo taken on 2 April 2012. Reuters/Ismail Taxta

Bitter rivalries between the groups sparked Somalia’s civil war which engulfed the country in 1991.

Farmajo has also set himself the priority of tackling rampant corruption, and forming the country’s first functioning government in more than 25 years.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991, when it drifted into its full-scale civil war. The internationally-backed unity government formed in 2000 was seen as weak and dysfunctional by many Somalis.

“I personally promise to build a good government which deserves your confidence and that can compete with the world. I want to compete with the world in terms of development and progress and you have to work with the government in terms of security,” Farmajo said after his election win.

It remains difficult to assess whether four years will be enough for the new president to achieve results in a country where this scourge has been an entrenched culture for decades. Somalia is ranked as the most corrupt country in the world by Transparency International NGO.


1 thought on “What are the challenges facing President Farmajo as he is inaugurated today?

  1. The people of Somalia have decades of experience that military offense backed by any external forces complicate the matter and has never worked. Military offenses after offense further tear apart the country. I do not see reason to allow TPLF to meddle in the affair of Somalia as TPLF has a track record of destabilizing the country. Instead of promising to squash the insurgents/militia, the new administration should work on national dialogue/inclusive interim government-to diffuse looming war caused damages and to bring peace, stability and development at a lesser cost. The new administration should have better solution than his predecessor to end conflicts. I personally concur with Fadumo Dayib stance ( to end conflict. It is a very interesting argument. Excluding Al Shabab militia leaders from administration does not work as the militias have already significant influence in the politics of the country. Like other developing countries, Somalia has tribal/clan related issues. So, any exclusion of militia leaders could also be interpreted as tribal/clan politics.

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