Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia (since Sept 16, 2012)
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (Somali: Xasan Sheekh Maxamuud, Arabic: حسن شيخ محمود) (born 29 November 1955) is a Somali politician. He is the current President of Somalia, having been elected on 10 September 2012 and inaugurated into office six days later. A civic, academic and political activist, he was previously a university professor and dean.
Mohamud was born in 1955 in Jalalaqsi, a small agricultural town situated in the central Hiran region of Somalia. He is a member of the Abgaal Hawiye clan, and comes from a middle class background.
Mohamud is married and has children. He speaks Somali and English.
Mohamud finished his basic secular and Islamic instruction in his hometown.
In 1978, he relocated to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. He studied for three years at the local Somali National University, earning an undergraduate diploma in technology in 1981.
Mohamud later moved to India in 1986 and attended Bhopal University (now Barkatullah University). There, he completed a master’s degree in technical education in 1988.
In a professional capacity, Mohamud accepted a position as a professor at the Somali National University in 1981.
When the civil war broke out in the early 1990s, he remained in Somalia and acted as a consultant with various NGOs, UN bureaus, and peace and development projects. Mohamud worked as an education officer for UNICEF in the central and southern parts of the country from 1993 to 1995. In 1999, he also co-established the Somali Institute of Management and Administration (SIMAD) in the capital. The institution subsequently grew into the SIMAD University, with Mohamud acting as dean until 2010.
Mohamud entered Somali politics the following year, when he established the independent Peace and Development Party (PDP). PDP members unanimously elected him as the party’s chairman in April 2011, with a mandate to serve as leader for the next three years.
In August 2012, Mohamud was selected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the newly-formed Federal Parliament of Somalia. Besides academic and civic work, he is also a successful entrepreneur.
Mohamud additionally has ties with Al-Islah, Somalia’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. With the organization, he assisted in various philanthropic initiatives, including the construction of primary and secondary schools, as well as university facilities and research hospitals in regions across the country. The network has also offered scholarships for higher studies and placements in educational institutions to many students.
President of Somalia – Elections
On 10 September 2012, legislators elected Mohamud as the new President of Somalia during the country’s 2012 presidential elections. Members of parliament marked their ballot papers behind a curtain before casting them in a clear box in front of foreign envoys and hundreds of Somali men and women as well as being broadcast live on television. After the first round of voting, former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed emerged as the frontrunner, amassing 64 votes. Mohamud was a close second with 60 votes, and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali placed third with 32 votes. Along with the fourth place finisher Abdiqadir Osoble, Ali later chose to drop out ahead of the second round. Both challengers, along with the other hopefuls that were vying for the post, thereafter reportedly instructed their supporters to back Mohamud’s candidacy. Mohamud went on to earn a lopsided win in the final round, defeating Ahmed 71–29% (190 votes vs. 79 votes).
Immediately after the final ballot results had been read out, Mohamud was sworn into office. Lawmakers began singing Somalia’s national anthem, and Mogadishu’s residents also expressed satisfaction at the outcome, viewing it as a moment of change.
In his acceptance speech, President Mohamud thanked the general Somali populace, the Federal Parliament, as well as the other challengers. He also voiced support for the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Somalia and indicated that he was prepared to work closely with the international community.
Additionally, Ahmed congratulated Mohamud on his victory and pledged to cooperate with the new head of state. Prime Minister Ali touted the selection as the start of a new era in Somali politics. Abdirahman Mohamud Farole, President of the autonomous Puntland region in northeastern Somalia, also thanked Mohamud, the Somali people, and all of the other stakeholders that were involved in the Roadmap political process, which ultimately led to the presidential election and the end of the transitional period.
Mohamud’s appointment was likewise welcomed in the international community. The UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga issued a statement describing the election as a “great step forward on the path to peace and prosperity[…] Somalia has proved the doubters wrong and sent a powerful message of progress to all of Africa and indeed to the entire world”. Similarly, the AU Commission for Somalia hailed the selection and pledged to support the new leadership. British Prime Minister David Cameron and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also extended their congratulations, echoing the general sentiment that the election represented a significant achievement. The United States government in turn released a press statement felicitating Mohamud on his victory, which it qualified as “an important milestone for the people of Somalia, and a crucial step forward along the path of building a representative government”. It also urged the Somali authorities to build on this momentum, and promised to continue partnering with the Somali government. In addition, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cabled a message of congratulations to Somalia’s new head of state, as did the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as well as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
On 16 September 2012, Mohamud was formally inaugurated as President of Somalia at a ceremony attended by various foreign leaders and dignitaries. UN Special Envoy to Somalia Mahiga described the moment as the beginning of a “new era” for the nation as well as the conclusion of the transitional period.
On 12 September 2012, while President Mohamud was meeting with foreign delegates in Mogadishu, two suicide bombers and two gunmen dressed in government uniforms attempted an attack on the Jazeera Hotel where the dignitaries had convened. There were reportedly around 10 casualties, among which were three Somali security detail, one AU peacekeeper, and the assailants themselves. None of the assembled statesmen, including Kenyan Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri, were harmed. Seemingly unfazed by the incidents, President Mohamud continued his speech before the gathered press and foreign officials, stating that “things like what’s happening now outside will continue for some time, but I’m sure and I’m confident it’s the last things that’s taking place here in Somalia[…] We have been hearing such events frequently, but this is a special case. We didn’t hear it for the last couple of months even.” He added that “first and foremost we will address the security issue. Priority number one is security and priority number two and priority number three.” The Al-Shabaab militant group later claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to Somali government officials, AU forces have assumed responsibility for President Mohamud’s security while investigations are launched into the incidents.
Within 30 days of his election, President Mohamud is scheduled to select a new Prime Minister, who is then expected to name a new Cabinet. According to analyst Faysal Abdi Roble, Mohamud is likely to re-appoint Prime Minister Ali due to his strong standing with the international community and productive time in office completing the Roadmap political process.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Former President of Somalia
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (born July 25, 1964) is the 7th President of Somalia and former Commander in Chief of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Ahmed was born in the Shabeellaha Dhexe province of Somalia and studied at Libyan and Sudanese universities. He has worked as a secondary school teacher of geography, Arabic, and religious studies. He speaks Arabic, Somali, and English.
Ahmed began his education at the Sheikh Sufi Institute, which was associated with the Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He then went to Sudan and entered Kordufan University in late 1992, where he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in the Arabic language (major) and geography (minor) in the city of Aldalanj. In 1994, the university was renamed to the University of Dalanj, and Sheikh Sharif left for Tripoli, the capital of Libya, after having completed only two out of the required four years. In Libya, he entered the Open University where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Islamic Shariah, graduating in 1998.
A hafiz, Ahmed had memorized the Qur’an by heart as a child and spoke only standard Arabic shunning slang and local dialects. Thus, his religious upbringing and education allowed him to succeed his father as the spiritual leader of the Idriseeyah sect of Sufi Islam in Somalia.
After returning from overseas, Ahmed became involved in the ICU and was elected to head a small local sub-clan court in Jowhar. A few years later, a local gang in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, kidnapped a young student and demanded a ransom from his family in return for the boy’s release. This incident was one of countless other kidnappings and killings perpetrated by armed groups in the Somali capital who exploited the disintegration of the central government. This event reportedly marked a turning point in the life of Sheikh Ahmed and propelled his further involvement with the ICU.
By 2004, Sheikh Ahmed had become one the leading figures in the Mogadishu Islamic Courts. His closest friends and allies included Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, one of the founders of the ICU, and Aden Hashi Farah “Eyrow”, a man whom Washington alleges has connections with the Al-Qaeda network and fought in Afghanistan in 2001.
On September 9, 2006, under the auspices of Abdikasim Salad Hassan, the former President of the Somali Transitional National Government, Sheikh Ahmed and several colleagues attended an AU ceremony in Sirte, Libya, marking the seventh anniversary of a summit of African leaders. In an interview with Reuters and the BBC, Sheikh Ahmed suggested his delegation would seek the help of Libya and other African nations to bring about a rapprochement between the Islamists and the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). However, he reportedly arrived in Khartoum, Sudan 48 hours before the start of the conference between the Somali government and the ICU only to leave 24 hours later. Sheikh Ahmed said Ethiopia had been hostile to Somalia for more than 500 years, and reiterated a long-standing Islamist accusation that Ethiopian forces were intervening in Somalia. Ethiopia denied any of its troops were fighting in Somalia. However, arrangements for an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led peacekeeping force did not materialize.
On December 28, 2006, after only six months in power and the defeat of the ICU’s army, he committed himself to fighting the Ethiopian forces in Somalia. After the ICU’s defeat in the Battle of Jilib and their abandonment of Kismayo, he fled towards the Kenyan border.
He was detained, with three other Somalis, by Kenyan police on January 21, 2007 near the Hulugo border. He met the US Ambassador to Kenya for talks regarding cooperation with the TFG. He was under the protection of Kenyan authorities staying at a hotel in Nairobi.
On February 1, 2007 Sharif Ahmed was released from Kenyan police authorities. By February 8, Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed had gone to Yemen where other ICU members are thought to have also gone.
Before fleeing, Sheikh Sharif lived with his wife and two children, Ahmad, aged 9 and Abdullah, who is a toddler, in a modest house in Mogadishu.
As the first round of voting began, several candidates withdrew, increasing the speculation that the vote would largely be a choice between Nur Hassan Hussein and Sharif Ahmed. In the first round, Sharif Ahmed got 215 votes, Maslah Mohamed Said 60 and Nur Hassan Hussein 59; Nur Hassan Hussein then withdrew his candidacy, thus likely sealing the election of Sharif Ahmed as president. In the final round of the presidential election he prevailed with 293 votes.
After winning the vote in the early hours of January 31, 2009, Ahmed was sworn in later in the day at the Kempinski hotel in Djibouti.
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Former President of Somalia
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed (Somali: Cabdullaahi Yuusuf Axmed) (b. December 15 1934) is a veteran Somali politician, and the current transitional President of Somalia.
Ahmed was born in the town of Galkacyo, in the Mudug Region, and is a member of the Darod, one of Somalia’s largest clans. He was elected as President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), by a session of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) held in neighbouring Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on October 10 2004, and sworn in on October 14 2004. He was among the first cadet officials sent to Italy in 1957, together with General Mohamed Farah Aideed and others. Since then he remained in the Army and participated in the war of 1964 and the Ogaden War of 1977, and was decorated for bravery in both wars. In 1978 Col Yusuf together with a group of officials mostly from his own Majeerteen (Daarood) clan participated a failed coup attempt against regime of General Siad Barre. He escaped to Kenya, then to Ethiopia where he started the first rebel movement ever established in Ethiopia, known as SODAF which later became the SSDF.
Later he became President of Puntland state. In the 2004 election he defeated all the notable leaders of Somalia including Abdiqasim Salad Hassan, Cadow and all the warlords of Mogadishu. His government, backed by considerable Ethiopian forces, successfully defeated the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) led by Hassan Dahir Aweys. The Ethiopian forces marched into Mogadishu on the last day of the year 2006.
Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF)
In September 1978 Abdullahi Yusuf, as a former army officer in the Somali National Army (SNA), founded the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) guerrilla movement aimed at ousting the Somali dictator Siad Barre.
President of Puntland
In the 1990s Ahmed emerged as the pre-eminent leader of his native Puntland region; he declared the territory autonomous in 1998. On July 23 1998 he became the President of Puntland and served in this position until his term expired on July 1 2001. However, after this he continued to declare himself to be the President of Puntland and started a military campaign against the new leadership, which had elected Jama Ali Jama in November 2001. In May 2002 he gained control of Puntland’s capital and was recognized as President of Puntland again, though rebellions continued until 2003. Ahmed then continued serving as President of Puntland until October 2004 when he resigned to become President of Somalia. He is said to have an authoritarian approach to leadership.
Implicated in extrajudicial killings
The U.S. Department of State, in its 2002 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, identifies milita members loyal to Ahmed as being responsible for at least two deliberate killings of non-combatants while he was president of the disputed regional state of Puntland:
* On January 11 2002, Garah Mohammed Said Gom’ad, a prominent businessman, was reportedly killed by forces of Yusuf Ahmed in a deliberate attack in which Yusuf’s militia reportedly stopped his car and Gom’ad was fatally shot.
* On August 17 2002, Sultan Ahmed Mohammed Hurre, a British citizen, was killed by bodyguards in the employ of Yusuf Ahmed as their respective convoys passed each other approximately two miles south of the Puntland town of Garowe. Hurre was known for opposing the extension of Ahmed’s presidency in the state of Puntland; according to the press reports, he was targeted by Ahmed for arrest as a religious extremist. Ahmed later claimed that the killing was accidental, but witnesses claimed otherwise.
The Country Report says that by the end of 2002 no action had been taken against those responsible for the killings.
Militias associated with Yusuf Ahmed have also been implicated in the killings of Col. Farah Mohamed Said (“Farah Dheere”) in Garowe in 2002, and of traditional leader Malaaq Seemow Abdi Garuunin Baidoa, on June 9 2006.
Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
On October 10, 2004, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected by the Transitional Federal Parliament to the position of President of Somalia. Abdullahi Yusuf got 189 votes from the TFG Parliament, while the closest contender got 79 votes.
As President, he pledged to promote reconciliation and to set about rebuilding the country. However, his government has been plagued by internal disagreements and contentions with other power-holders in Somalia. For example, he was at loggerheads with some warlords and government members over where the administration should be based. The president and prime minister opposed a move to Mogadishu, citing security reasons. He helped to relocate the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) along with his Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi and the Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Adan from Nairobi to the cities of Jowhar and mainly Baidoa, where the TFG resided until the government took control of Mogadishu.
The make up of a possible foreign peacekeeping force – in particular the inclusion of Ethiopian troops – is another bone of contention. Ethiopia has been accused of backing rival Somali warlords in order to keep the country weak. The IGASOM mission therefore excludes countries neighboring Somalia from participating in peacekeeping.
In May 2006, the Second Battle of Mogadishu started and CNN reported that there were Transitional government forces in action, but Abdullahi Yusuf told the BBC the alliance of warlords were not fighting on behalf of the government and threatened to fire them. Indeed, members of the government who were part of the warring Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) were sacked. Others left the government in disaffection after the victories of the Islamic Court Union.
An arrangement was made with the Islamic Court Union in Khartoum on 5 September 2006. The interim-government of Yusuf Ahmed and the Islamic Court Union were to merge into a new transistory government of Somalia. The Islamic Court Union had the precondition that the Ethiopian army should leave the country. The rise of the Islamists damaged Yusuf’s dream of establishing central rule in Somalia for the first time in fifteen years.
On September 18, 2006, a suicide car bomber smashed his vehicle into the President’s convoy outside the National Parliament in Baidoa. The attack killed four of the President’s bodyguards, as well as the President’s brother. Six attackers were also killed in the subsequent gun battle. The President’s life was most likely saved by the fact that he travelled in the second vehicle in the convoy rather than the front one, a decoy. The Islamic Court’s Union, which had recently taken control of much of the country were blamed for the attack.
After the beginning of the War in Somalia on December 21, 2006, with the help of Ethiopia, the TFG forces took control of Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu, from the hands of the Islamic Courts Union. By 28 December the Transitional Federal Government captured Mogadishu as the ICU forces fled.
On January 8, 2007 as the Battle of Ras Kamboni raged, TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed entered Mogadishu for the first time since being elected. It was announced the government would be relocated to Villa Somalia, in Mogadishu, from its interim location at Baidoa. The first time a Somali government controlled the whole country since 1991.