Hassan Sheikh Mohamud officially took office in the Horn of Africa country after a handover ceremony in Mogadishu.
A week ago, Mohamud won the presidency after an intense election, defeating Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, in a third round of voting. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud becomes the first ex-president in Somalia to be reelected.
In a joint speech at the brief but colorfully prepared handover ceremony, former President Farmajo called on the country’s population to support the new leader.
He said, “… I want to advise them to work with the new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, because the election has been completed and he will start the work and everything he does will be for the people of Somalia … .”
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.