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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

A New President For Somalia

By Sally Healy

The election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud by Somalia’s Transitional Parliament is an unexpected success for the hugely discredited political process in the country. It could prove to be a turning point in Somalia’s recovery. With twenty five candidates standing, numerous doubts about the integrity of the new parliament and widespread reports of bribery for their votes, it was widely assumed that the post would go to the highest bidder. And it seemed a certainty this would be one of the usual suspects: President Sheikh Sharif, Prime Minister Abdi Weli or former Speaker Sherif Hassan. How nice it is to be wrong!

Hassan Sheikh’s victory is a useful reminder of the capacity of Somalia to surprise the outside world. Beyond the façade of internationally constructed governments, we know so little about how this country without a national government really works. Hassan Sheikh is largely unknown outside Somalia but he is very well known and respected in Mogadishu where he founded and runs the Somali Institute of Management and Development, now a university. …

Sally Healy is a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute (and co-author with Hassan Sheikh of a 2009 report for UNDP on the role of the Somali Diaspora in Development).

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