After a transfer ceremony in Mogadishu, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud assumed office in the Horn of Africa country.
After a difficult election, Mohamud was elected president last week, defeating Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, in the third round of voting. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud becomes Somalia’s first re-elected ex-president.
Former President Farmajo called on the country’s people to support the new leader in a joint speech at the brief but colorfully arranged handover ceremony.
“… I want to tell them to work with the new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, since the election is over and he will begin his work, and everything he does will be for the Somali people…,” he stated.
The former president also, for the first time, confirmed the presence in Eritrea of Somali troops.
Although they were sent to Eritrea for training, there were accusations that the troops were involved in northern Ethiopia, where the central government was involved in a conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF is a former member of the coalition that ruled Ethiopia for three decades. Ethiopia’s government has branded the group a terrorist organization.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mohamud addressed the issue of Somali troops in Eritrea.
He said, “Today is a historic day,” adding, “I was handed power smoothly as well as the government files.” Mohamud also said, “We will work so that the Somali trainees in Eritrea are brought back to Somalia.”
The number of soldiers in Eritrea was kept secret until now. Officials say 5,000 soldiers were deployed there. Parents of some of the soldiers staged several protests, demanding to know the whereabouts of their sons.
Mohamud, who served as president between 2012 and 2017, is inheriting a much divided Somalia and a prolonged drought that displaced over half a million Somalis.