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Somalia elects a president, but terrorists hold power

In a vote that was delayed for nearly two years, hundreds of lawmakers in Somalia have elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s new president.

Mohamud, a former president and peace activist, received 214 votes from the 328 lawmakers, who were picked by clan representatives.

His selection ends a bitter election period marred by corruption, his predecessor’s attempt to cling to power and heavy fighting in the streets. Mohamud defeated three dozen candidates after three rounds of voting, including Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who drew condemnation after extending his term last year.

The vote comes amid a host of challenges for Somalia: soaring inflation, a recent deadly drought and the threat of Al Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. After more than 16 years, the group now has wide powers, including extorting taxes, judging court cases, forcing minors into its ranks and carrying out suicide bombings.

Somalia’s 16 million people have suffered for decades from civil wars, weak governance and terrorism. The central government has been bolstered by African Union peacekeepers and Western aid.

“Our country needs to go forward, not to go back,” Mohamud said after being sworn in. “I promise to build a Somalia that is in harmony with itself and is in harmony with the world.”

Story credit: NYT

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