, WASHINGTON, Sept 12 – The United States on Tuesday congratulated the new president of Somalia, voicing hope the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will mark a new era for the African nation torn by two decades of war.
“I want to congratulate President Hassan Sheikh and the Somali people on yesterday’s election,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
With Monday’s election of a new president, “Somalia has completed its political transition,” the top US diplomat said.
She noted the election comes at a time of great transition in the Horn of Africa nation, which last month ushered in a new federal parliament and speaker, and where its national constituent assembly recently adopted a provisional constitution.
Against that backdrop, “this significant achievement is the result of years of hard work by Somalis and the international community,” Clinton said of the presidential vote.
The White House meanwhile also sent congratulations to the Somali people “for completing this momentous political transition,” which it said marked “an important milestone” for the country.
It called on the new president “to be inclusive and collaborative” and to build on the vote by “continuing to strengthen democratic institutions.”
A 56-year-old university lecturer who is little known outside his country, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud defied predictions and was chosen by lawmakers as Somalia’s new president from among a dozen hopefuls.
His party described him as the architect of Somali civil society, and unlike many Somali politicians he is not part of the diaspora.
But he inherits an ongoing war, a humanitarian crisis, feeble institutions and deeply entrenched warlordism.
Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, who still control vast swathes of the country, dismissed his election as illegitimate.
Clinton in her statement added that “there is still more work to be done” as Somalia recovers from years of upheaval.
“The United States calls on Somalia’s new leaders to continue the reform effort and to work together to create a better future,” she said.
“We are committed to helping the new government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and deliver results for the Somali people.”