Somalia’s new leader is a traitor, say rebels
Islamist rebels have dismissed Somalia’s presidential election as a ploy by the West to boost its economic and strategic interests.
They yesterday branded the new leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a traitor and said they would keep up their war to make Somalia an Islamic state.
Somalian MPs late on Monday elected political newcomer Mr Mohamud as president, ousting Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
Among the former academic’s priorities will be to crush the militant al-Shabaab group, who have fought for five years in an insurgency that has killed thousands of people but is now under pressure from regional military forces.
Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahmud Rage said the group did not regard the election as being in the Somali people’s interests.
“They represent western interests, and interests of their agents in the region,” he said in a statement.
“The so-called election came to maintain the status quo, allowing foreign companies to steal Somalia’s resources and to destroy its economy. Sharif’s replacement is nothing more than a revised edition of traitors serving those interests.”
In the past 13 months, al-Shabaab has lost strongholds across southern and central Somalia in the face of advances by an African Union peacekeeping force, as well as Kenyan and Ethiopian forces deployed inside Somalia.
Western officials have hailed the presidential vote, the first of its kind in Somalia in 45 years, saying it showed Somalis were ready to break away from the endless bloodshed and endemic corruption that has plagued the country for decades. They also described the election process as the most inclusive in years.
“It’s really extraordinary that despite all the pressures, despite all the benefits of incumbency that the outgoing leaders had, they performed very poorly and this was an outright victory by this new leader,” United Nations’ special envoy for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, told reporters before his first meeting with Mr Mohamud. “And that speaks volumes for the wishes of the Somali people.”
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