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New Somali president survives terrorist attack, faces daunting job

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Within hours of Mr. Mohamud winning Monday’s presidential election, the group said he was little more than a puppet of the West, and would be targeted.

But beyond the presence of terrorist groups, more than 2 million of the new president’s citizens need outside help finding enough food each day. Pirates along the Somali coast, Africa’s longest, are excitedly watching the monsoon winds wane as they prepare to set out to sea again.

Mohamud is a government outsider with no power base in the capital, Mogadishu, where artful and hardened politicians have made minor fortunes stealing from state coffers, according to a recent United Nations report.

“The question is not so much whether Mohamud is up to the job, it’s whether anyone at all would be up to it,” says Ahmed Soliman, Somalia researcher for the Chatham House think tank in London.

Strengths of an ‘outsider’

There are positive signs that Mohamud could keep recently accelerating progress in Somalia moving in the right direction, however.   

On paper at least, he has the support of the country’s new 275-member parliament: nearly three-fourths of them chose Mohamud over Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, the incumbent, who entered Monday’s election tarnished with accusations of corruption, including trying to buy parliamentarians’ votes.

Indeed, Mohamud’s presidential victory has been interpreted as a protest against Sheikh Shariff’s inability to stamp out graft among the country’s elite. Over the past eight years of the "transitional government" – which officially ended with Mohamud's victory – corruption has grown.

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