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Somalia wakes up to new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo

Screen grab | FRANCE 24

A former prime minister was elected Somalia's president on Wednesday, declaring a new "era of unity" as he took on the daunting task of bringing the long-chaotic country its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century.

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Thousands of jubilant Somalis poured into the streets, chanting the new president's name as cheering soldiers fired into the air. "Somalia will be another Somalia soon," said Ahmed Ali, a police officer celebrating in the crowd.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held a slight lead over Farmajo after an initial round of voting Wednesday that included a field of 21 candidates. But Farmajo easily won the second round contested among three candidates, with 184 votes to Mohamud's 97.

Fears of attacks by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab dogged the historic vote, which was limited to lawmakers instead of the population at large, with members of the upper and lower houses of parliament casting ballots at a heavily guarded former air force base in the capital, Mogadishu, while a security lockdown closed the international airport.

The new president represents a generation of Somalis scattered abroad by conflict who have cautiously begun to return to help their homeland recover.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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