War-torn Somalia elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo president Wednesday, after two rounds of voting by members of parliament.
He brings hope to the country, which has been disintegrating since 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre, then plunged the nation into civil war. In the intervening years, militants took advantage of the political vacuum.
Farmajo, 54, who has dual Somali-.U.S. citizenship, has been living in Grand Island, N.Y., and holds degrees from the State University of New York-Buffalo. He worked as the Commissioner for Equal Employment at the New York State Department of Transportation in Buffalo. Farmajo had lived in the United States since 1985, when he was sent there with Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry. He was Somalia’s prime minister for eight months until leaving the post in 2011.
The new president can travel to the United States on his U.S. passport, the Associated Press reported. Somalia was one of the seven nations listed in President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order that temporarily banned travel from those countries. The ban was lifted by a federal judge and that ruling is being appealed.
While in the United States, he spoke out against Somalia’s government and was granted asylum for fear of safety, TheWashington Post reported.
After applying for asylum, his daughter Intisar Mohamed said Farmajo moved to Buffalo because it has a large Somali refugee community, according to The Buffalo News.
‘He loves his country’
Farmajo, which is his popular nickname, has spent most of the past year campaigning in Somalia.
“He loves his country,” his daughter told The Buffalo News. “At the end of the day that’s where he was born.”
He was elected in the country’s first organized presidential election in more than two decades. He was selected Wednesday by members of parliament from among nearly two dozen candidates, including the incumbent president.