— Ahmed Vision (@ahmedvision1) February 10, 2017
Residents of Gaalkacyo, a volatile city in Somalia’s central region, came together to dismantle a greenline dividing their city after Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was elected president of Somalia on Wednesday. Gaalkacyo has been divided for the past twenty years between the Hawiye and Darood clan families, with the latter controlling the Northern portion of the city and the former the southern portion. The city has been the scene of many gruesome tribal conflicts between the two clan-families in its history—with the most recent happening as recently as a few weeks ago. The unexpected electoral victory of Farmaajo, a Darood man who is seen as being above tribal politics and who is highly popular on both sides of the city because of his reputation for honesty and fairness, appears to have already aided in reconciling citizens of the divided city. A video posted to YouTube shows a throng of citizens clearing away a roadblock thrown up by the city’s two rival administrations to prevent the free movement of people to both sides. Another video, taped the night of Farmaajo’s election, shows a large crowd of youths from both tribal groups marching together while singing Somalia’s national anthem.
These events follow similar ones all across Somalia, with people in villages, towns, and cities throughout the country reacting to Farmaajo’s victory with mass public celebrations. The capital city Mogadishu, a predominately Hawiye city, saw tens of thousands of citizens take to the streets in celebration after Farmaajo’s victory was announced. Similar celebrations also took place in Kismayo, Baidoba, Las Canood, Dhusamareb, and many other locations in the country. Farmaajo’s widespread, cross-clan popularity is unusual for a Somali politician and stems from his brief stint as the country’s prime minister between 2010 and 2011. During that time, Farmaajo earned a reputation for rejecting clan politics and for battling corruption. Farmaajo was forced out of government by the country’s then-president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed after a controversial political deal with the country’s speaker of parliament, who was viewed as highly corrupt and hostile to Farmaajo. Farmaajo defeated Ahmed, and the man who replaced Ahmed, to become Somalia’s ninth president Wednesday night in a large and unexpected victory in the country’s indirect parliamentary election. He has promised to bring about reconciliation and rebuild Somalia’s government institutions, which have been destroyed after two decades of civil war.