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Somalia: New President Faces Big Challenges

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, attends his inauguration ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 22, 2017.

Somalia's new President Mohamad Abdullahi Mohamad, better known as Farmajo, is already working hard to tackle some of the nation's major issues.Among them, is the devastating drought that is gripping 6.2 million of his country's 12.3 million residents, for which he has declared a state of disaster. Paul Sisco has more on the challenges facing President Farmajo.

The International Organization for Migration reports the humanitarian situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating and the likelihood of famine is increasing. The organization says a growing number of people are fleeing to Ethiopia in search of food and basic services.President Farmajo, has his work cut out for him -- and he knows it.The nation is still suffering from decades of civil war and it has not had stable leadership or an effective central government since the fall of former dictator Mohamed Said Barre in 1991.

SOT- Chy. President Mohamad Abdullahi Mohamad (Voice of Translator)
“I would like to solve all those problems within the next four years I am in office but I can’t.”

The president says it will take another 20 years to fix his country. He lists his nation’s most pressing and essential issues as security, drought, the rule of law, and the implementation of justice and reconciliation.
Just days after his inauguration, Britain pledged a $125 million dollar aid package, providing emergency food relief for up to one-million nearly famished Somalis.

President Farmajo is also promising a crackdown on corruption.Elections observers believe Somalia’s presidential candidates paid out millions of dollars to voters in parliament in the run-up to the election.
Farmajo was a surprise winner, defeating his predecessor Hassan Sheik Mohamad and former President Sheik Sharif Ahmed.To help him turn things around, he has appointed 48-year-old Hassan Ali Khaire, a political newcomer, to the Prime Minister's post.Khayre is a former aid worker and oil executive with dual Somali and Norwegian citizenship.

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The militant group al-Shabab continues to battle successive U.N. backed Somali administrations.Many lives were recently lost when a car bomb ripped through this market in Mogadishu, only days after Farmajo’s election by parliament.President Farmajo promises a much needed, rebuilding of the national army to meet the ongoing al-Shabab terror threat.

Political observers say that while drought exacerbates famine, it is armed conflict that prevent farmers from planting crops and tending to its livestock. Despite very real climate factors at play, famines are almost always the result of man-made conditions. The violence prevents aid from reaching the needy. In 2011, when the last famine struck Somalia, 260-thousand people were killed.

Paul Sisco, VOA News, Washington.