Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

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Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
حسن شيخ محمود
H.E. Mr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia (cropped).jpg
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at the Somalia Conference in London, May 2013
8th President of Somalia
Assumed office
16 September 2012
Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
Abdi Farah Shirdon
Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed
Preceded by Mohamed Osman Jawari (Acting)
Chairman of the Peace and Development Party
Assumed office
20 April 2011
Preceded by Office established
Personal details
Born (1955-11-29) 29 November 1955 (age 58)
Jalalaqsi, Trust Territory of Somalia
Political party Peace and Development Party (2011–present)
Other political
Independent (Before 2011)
Alma mater Somali National University
Bhopal University
Eastern Mennonite University
Religion Islam

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (Somali: Xasan Sheekh Maxamuud, Arabic: حسن شيخ محمود‎) (born 29 November 1955) is a Somali politician. He is the 8th and current President of Somalia, having been elected on 10 September 2012 and inaugurated six days later. A civil and political activist, Mohamud was previously a university professor and dean.[1] He is also the founder and Chairman of the Peace and Development Party (PDP). In April 2013, Mohamud was named to the Time 100, TIME magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. His efforts at advancing national reconciliation, anti-corruption measures, and socio-economic and security sector reforms in Somalia were cited as reasons for the selection.[2]


Personal life[edit]

Mohamud was born 29 November 1955 in Jalalaqsi, a small agricultural town situated in the central Hiran of present-day Somalia, during the trusteeship period.[3] He is a member of the Abgaal Hawiye clan,[4] and comes from a middle-class background.[5]

Mohamud is married and has children.[6] He speaks Somali and English.[7]


Mohamud frequented primary and secondary schools in his hometown.[8] He later moved to Somalia's capital Mogadishu in 1978, where he studied for three years at the local Somali National University. In 1981, he earned an undergraduate diploma in technology from the institution.[3][6]

In 1986, Mohamud journeyed to India and began attending Bhopal University (now Barkatullah University). There, he completed a master's degree in technical education in 1988.[6] Mohamud is also a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University's Summer Peacebuilding Institute based in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In 2001, he completed three of the SPI's intensive courses, studying mediation, trauma healing, and designing learner-centered trainings.[9]

Early career[edit]

In a professional capacity, Mohamud accepted a position as an instructor and trainer at the Lafole Technical Secondary School.[8] He later joined the Somali National University-affiliated Technical Teachers' Training College in 1984.[8][10] In 1986, he became the department's head.[8]

When the civil war broke out in the early 1990s, Mohamud remained in Somalia and acted as a consultant with various NGOs, UN bureaus, and peace and development projects.[10] He worked as an education officer for UNICEF in the central and southern parts of the country from 1993 to 1995. In 1999, he also co-established the Somali Institute of Management and Administration (SIMAD) in the capital. The institution subsequently grew into the SIMAD University, with Mohamud acting as dean until 2010.[7]

Mohamud entered Somali politics the following year, when he established the independent Peace and Development Party (PDP).[7] PDP members unanimously elected him as the party's chairman in April 2011, with a mandate to serve as leader for the next three years.[11]

In August 2012, Mohamud was selected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the newly formed Federal Parliament of Somalia.[10] Besides academic and civic work, he is also a successful entrepreneur.[12]


Mohamud has ties with Al-Islah, Somalia's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.[10] With the organisation, he assisted in various philanthropic initiatives, including the construction of primary and secondary schools, plus university facilities and research hospitals in regions across the country. The network has also offered scholarships for higher studies and placements in educational institutions to many students.[3]

President of Somalia[edit]


Hassan Sheikh Mohamud at his presidential inauguration ceremony, September 2012.

On 10 September 2012, legislators elected Mohamud President of Somalia during the country's 2012 presidential elections.[13] Members of parliament marked their ballot papers behind a curtain before casting them in a clear box in front of foreign envoys and hundreds of Somali men and women as well as being broadcast live on television. After the first round of voting, former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed emerged as the frontrunner, amassing 64 votes. Mohamud was a close second with 60 votes, and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali placed third with 32 votes.[14] Along with the fourth place finisher Abdiqadir Osoble, Ali later chose to drop out ahead of the second round.[14] Both challengers, along with the other hopefuls that were vying for the post, thereafter reportedly instructed their supporters to back Mohamud's candidacy.[15] Mohamud went on to earn a lopsided win in the final round, defeating Ahmed 71–29% (190 votes vs. 79 votes).[4]

Immediately after the final ballot results had been read out, Mohamud was sworn into office.[10] Lawmakers began singing Somalia's national anthem, and Mogadishu's residents also expressed satisfaction at the outcome, viewing it as a moment of change.[16]

In his acceptance speech, President Mohamud thanked the general Somali populace, the Federal Parliament, as well as the other challengers. He also voiced support for the ongoing post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Somalia and indicated that he was prepared to work closely with the international community.[4]

President Mohamud speaking with journalist Abdirahman Yabarow.

Additionally, Ahmed congratulated Mohamud on his victory and pledged to cooperate with the new head of state.[4] Prime Minister Ali touted the selection as the start of a new era in Somali politics.[17] Abdirahman Mohamud Farole, President of the autonomous Puntland region in northeastern Somalia, also thanked Mohamud, the Somali people, and all of the other stakeholders that were involved in the Roadmap political process, which ultimately led to the presidential election and the end of the transitional period.[4]

Mohamud's appointment was welcomed throughout the world. The UN Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga issued a statement describing the election as a "great step forward on the path to peace and prosperity[...] Somalia has proved the doubters wrong and sent a powerful message of progress to all of Africa and indeed to the entire world". Similarly, the AU Commission for Somalia hailed the selection and pledged to support the new leadership.[18] British Prime Minister David Cameron and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also extended their congratulations, echoing the general sentiment that the election represented a significant achievement.[10] The United States government in turn released a press statement felicitating Mohamud on his victory, which it qualified as "an important milestone for the people of Somalia, and a crucial step forward along the path of building a representative government". It also urged the Somali authorities to build on this momentum, and promised to continue partnering with the Somali government.[19] In addition, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cabled a message of congratulations to Somalia's new head of state, as did the UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as well as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.[20]

On 16 September 2012, Mohamud was formally inaugurated as President of Somalia at a ceremony attended by various foreign leaders and dignitaries. UN Special Envoy to Somalia Mahiga described the moment as the beginning of a "new era" for the nation as well as the conclusion of the transitional period.[21]


On 6 October 2012, President Mohamud appointed political newcomer Abdi Farah Shirdon as the new Prime Minister of Somalia.[22] On 4 November 2012, Shirdon named a new Cabinet,[23] which was later endorsed by the legislature on 13 November 2012.[24]

Targeted attack[edit]

On 12 September 2012, while President Mohamud was meeting with foreign delegates in Mogadishu, two suicide bombers and two gunmen dressed in government uniforms attempted an attack on the Jazeera Hotel where the dignitaries had convened. There were reportedly around 10 casualties, among which were three Somali security detail, one AU peacekeeper, and the assailants themselves.[25] None of the assembled statesmen, including Kenyan Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri, were harmed.[26] Seemingly unfazed by the incidents, President Mohamud continued his speech before the gathered press and foreign officials, stating that "things like what's happening now outside will continue for some time, but I'm sure and I'm confident it's the last things that's taking place here in Somalia[...] We have been hearing such events frequently, but this is a special case. We didn't hear it for the last couple of months even."[27] He added that "first and foremost we will address the security issue. Priority number one is security and priority number two and priority number three."[17] The Al-Shabaab militant group later claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to Somali government officials, AU forces have assumed responsibility for President Mohamud's security while investigations are launched into the incidents.[25]

On 3 September 2013, a roadside bomb detonated near vehicles in President's Mohamud's convoy in Merca. One Somali soldier was injured in the blast, but Mohamud was unharmed and continued on to his destination. Al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility for the explosion. Abdirahman Omar Osman, a spokesman for the president, dismissed the group's statement as propaganda, indicating that Mohamud's convoy was not targeted and that it was uncertain what might have happened to an earlier convoy.[28]

Domestic policy[edit]

Lifting of arms embargo[edit]

Upon assuming office, President Mohamud and his Cabinet resumed efforts by Somali and international stakeholders to end the 21-year UN arms embargo on Somalia,[29] the oldest such global weapons blockade.[30] The Security Council had imposed the prohibition in 1992, shortly after the start of the civil war and the toppling of the Siad Barre regime, in order to stop the flow of weapons to feuding militia groups.[29] An eventual repeal of the embargo had been among the future objectives of the signatories in the transitional Roadmap political process of 2011–2012.[31] Mohamud's government, Somali security analysts and military experts argued that lifting the ban on the procurement of arms would facilitate the Somali authorities' attempts at strengthening the Somali Armed Forces, and would more effectively equip the military to quash the remnants of the Islamist insurgency.[32] The United States,[29] African Union,[32] Arab League,[33] and IGAD all backed the proposal.[34] In March 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon likewise urged Security Council members to vote to remove the sanctions so as to help the Somali authorities fortify their security apparatus and consolidate military gains.[35]

Although Britain and France reportedly expressed reservations over increasing the general flow of arms into Somalia, UK officials began drafting a resolution to ease the embargo on weapons purchases by the Somali government for a provisional period of one year.[29] The draft resolution would require either the Somali authorities or the state supplying the military equipment to notify the council "at least five days in advance of any deliveries of weapons and military equipment[...] providing details of such deliveries and assistance and the specific place of delivery in Somalia." Additionally, the proposal mandates that the Somali government should routinely provide updates on the army's structural status, as well as information on the extant infrastructure and protocols designed to ensure the weaponry's safe delivery, storage and maintenance.[35]

In its 6 March 2013 meeting, the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 2093 to suspend the arms embargo on Somalia for a one-year period. The endorsement officially lifts the purchase ban on light weapons, but retains certain restrictions on the procurement of heavy arms such as surface-to-air missiles, howitzers and cannons.[30]

In January 2014, at an African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, President Mohamud requested an extension of the UN Security Council's weapons purchasing mandate for Somalia. He indicated that the Somali defence forces required better military equipment and arms to more effectively combat militants.[36] On 5 March 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to extend the partial easing of the arms embargo on Somalia until 25 October of the year.[37]

National reconciliation[edit]

On 13 April 2013, President Mohamud resumed national reconciliation talks between the central government in Mogadishu and the regional authorities in Hargeisa. Organized by the government of Turkey in Ankara, the meeting ended with a signed agreement between Mohamud and Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, President of the northwestern Somaliland region, agreeing to allocate fairly to the Somaliland region its portion of the development aid earmarked for Somalia as a whole and to cooperate on security.[38]

On 28 August 2013, the Somali federal government signed a national reconciliation agreement in Addis Ababa with the autonomous Jubaland administration based in southern Somalia. Endorsed by the federal State Minister for the Presidency Farah Abdulkadir on behalf of President Mohamud, the pact was brokered by the Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia and came after protracted bilateral talks. Under the terms of the agreement, Jubaland will be administered for a two-year period by a Juba Interim Administration and led by the region's incumbent president, Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe). The regional president will serve as the chairperson of a new Executive Council, to which he will appoint three deputies. Management of Kismayo's seaport and airport will also be transferred to the Federal Government after a period of six months, and revenues and resources generated from these infrastructures will be earmarked for Jubaland's service delivery and security sectors as well as local institutional development. Additionally, the agreement includes the integration of Jubaland's military forces under the central command of the Somali National Army (SNA), and stipulates that the Juba Interim Administration will command the regional police.[39][40] UN Special Envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay hailed the pact as "a breakthrough that unlocks the door for a better future for Somalia,"[41] with AUC, UN, EU and IGAD representatives also present at the signing.[40]

Vote of confidence[edit]

In November 2013, President Mohamud asked Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon to resign from office on the grounds that Shirdon was allegedly ineffective in the job. Mohamud was reportedly acting on the advice of the State Minister for Presidency, Farah Abdulkadir.[42] On 12 November 2013, Shirdon confirmed that there was a dispute between himself and the president, but indicated that the row was constitutional rather than political. He also asserted that the matter should be resolved in parliament.[43] According to MP Mohamed Abdi Yusuf, the rift between Mohamud and Shirdon centered over through what constitutional mechanism and by whom the Cabinet was ultimately to be formed.[44]

On 24 November 2013, 168 MPs led by former TFG Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan endorsed a document submitted to parliament, which outlined a motion against Prime Minister Shirdon's administration.[45][46] A parliamentary vote of confidence was later held against Shirdon on 2 December 2013. Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari subsequently announced that 184 of the present MPs had voted against Shirdon, whereas 65 legislators had voted to retain him.[47] On 5 December 2013, Shirdon released a statement confirming that he and his Cabinet accepted the legislature's decision.[48] UN Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay paid tribute to the outgoing Prime Minister, noting that Shirdon had endeavoured to promote growth and progress and was an important principal in establishing the New Deal Compact between Somalia and its international partners. He also commended the legislators on adhering to procedural rules during the vote, and pledged to work constructively with the succeeding administration.[49]

On 12 December 2013, President Mohamud named veteran economist Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed as the new Prime Minister.[50]

Benadir administration and Chief of Staff[edit]

In February–March 2014, Mohamud began a reformation of the Mogadishu Chief of Staff and Benadir regional administration in an effort to strengthen their senior leadership.[51] On 27 February 2014, he issued a presidential decree naming former military court chairman Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab as the new Mayor of Mogadishu and Governor of the Banaadir region. Part of an effort to firm up on municipal security, the appointment came after consultations with Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed and Interior Minister Abdullahi Godah Barre. Mungab replaced Mohamed Nur (Tarsan) in the mayorship.[52] The same month, President Mohamud also replaced Kamal Dahir Hassan "Gutale" as Chief of Staff. Through a presidential decree issued on 10 March, Mohamud likewise sacked the General Secretary of the Benadir regional administration Abdikafi Hassan, as well as Benadir's Deputy Governors Ali Iikar Gure and Warsame Mohamed Ahmed "Jodah". Mohamud concurrently reassigned former Chief of Staff Hassan as the Benadir administration's new Deputy Governor.[51]

Youth development initiatives[edit]

In August 2014, on the occasion of the U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, D.C., President Mohamud announced a number of new development projects aimed at Somalia's youth. The conference was the largest of its kind to be held by an incumbent United States administration, and was attended by the heads of state and government of all of Africa's countries. Of the new youth initiatives that the Federal Government of Somalia is slated to implement, Mohamud indicated that a comprehensive youth empowerment framework would be prioritized, with attendant legislation and policies. A university accreditation system, an employment creation program, and youth enterprise would also be developed. Additionally, local and regional youth representation in civil, political and governmental activities would be enhanced. To this end, two Youth Advisers would be named to the Office of the President, and the minimum age for prospective officeholders would be lowered to 18. Leadership of Somalia's first national park would also be assigned to young managers so as to strengthen environmental preservation and potential tourism opportunities. In coastal areas, jobs in marine ecosystem management and sustainable fishing would be generated. Additional opportunities would be made available through the introduction of fiber optics and 3G. The federal government would likewise support the establishment of the Somali Film Council. According to Mohamud, the Somali federal government delegation is scheduled to meet with its U.S. partners to discuss further ways to promote economic growth and investment in Somalia, with the objective of creating new opportunities, empowering youth, and strengthening ties between both nations.[53]

Foreign policy[edit]

Re-establishment of formal diplomatic ties[edit]

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department (January 2013).

In January 2013, President Mohamud met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other American federal officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss bilateral cooperation. The meeting concluded with an announcement by the U.S. federal authorities that the United States was set to exchange diplomatic notes with the new central government of Somalia, re-establishing official ties with the country for the first time in 20 years. According to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, the decision was made in recognition of the significant progress that the Somali authorities had achieved on both the political and war fronts. The move is expected to grant the Somali government access to new sources of development funds from American agencies as well as international bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, thereby facilitating the ongoing reconstruction process.[54][55]

Cotonou Agreement[edit]

On 7 June 2013, attendants at the ministerial meeting of the European Union and over 70 nations in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) approved the Somali government's request to join the Cotonou Agreement. Somalia was immediately granted observer status, with full membership earmarked for 2014. The Cotonou Agreement promotes sustainable development and the reduction and eventual elimination of poverty in ACP member nations. It also aims to integrate ACP countries into the world economy via stronger participation in the drafting of national development strategies, and to advance criminal justice and fight against impunity through the International Criminal Court. President Mohamud welcomed the decision and asserted that the treaty would facilitate the ongoing national reconstruction process, as Somalia would be eligible to receive EU development projects. According to Joe Costello, Ireland's Minister of State for Trade and Development, the endorsement "opens a new chapter in relations between the EU and Somalia and constitutes a visible sign that Somalia has regained its status as a fully-fledged member of the international community."[56][57]

Somalia-UN cooperative agreement[edit]

On 26 February 2014, President Mohamud oversaw the signing of a bilateral agreement between Somalia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdirahman Duale Beyle and UN Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay, which outlines the terms of future cooperation between the Somali federal government and the United Nations. According to Beyle, the pact came after extensive consultations between both parties, with attorneys also present at the signing. Mohamud commended the agreement for helping to strengthen cooperation between the Somali authorities and the UN.[58]

Somalia-Japan bilateral cooperation[edit]

In March 2014, President Mohamud and a Somali government delegation including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdirahman Duale Beyle, Minister of Planning Said Abdullahi Mohamed and Minister of Public Works and Reconstruction Nadifo Mohamed Osman made a four-day visit to Tokyo, where they met with Ambassador Tatsushi Terada and other senior Japanese government officials. President Mohamud and his delegation also conferred with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss strengthening bilateral relations, and capacity training for Somali livestock and agricultural development professionals. Mohamud likewise met with Emperor Akihito,[59] as well as with leaders of the Nippon Foundation, where they discussed project proposals in the agriculture, fisheries, marine resources and livestock sectors. Following a visit to the Japanese Coast Guard center and the Port of Yokohama, Mohamud requested Japanese assistance in development initiatives earmarked for Somalia's coastline. He also recommended at a gathering before the Japan National Press Club that Japanese investments in education should be refocused towards youth vocational education centres to ensure sustainability.[60] The visit concluded with an announcement by Japanese Prime Minister Abe that his administration would put forth a $40 million funding package for the rehabilitation of Somalia's police forces, relief services, and job creation opportunities. Mohamud commended the Japanese government for intensifying its bilateral support, and suggested that the development initiatives would be centered on vocational training for youth and women, maritime and fisheries training, fisheries and agricultural infrastructure development, and communication and information technology support.[61]

EU fisheries partnership[edit]

On 2 and 3 April 2014, a Somali federal government delegation including President Mohamud, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Mohamed Olow Barrow, Minister of Finance Hussein Abdi Halane, and Minister of Planning Said Abdullahi Mohamed met in Brussels with EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki to discuss bilateral relations. The talks were brokered by the Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson, with the aim of securing international funding for reconstruction of Somalia's fishing industry infrastructure. According to Stevenson, the EU's long-term objective is to set up a fisheries partnership agreement with the Somali authorities in order to tap into the country's abundant marine stocks.[62]


In April 2013, Mohamud was named to the Time 100, TIME magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. His efforts at advancing national reconciliation, anti-corruption measures, and socio-economic and security sector reforms in Somalia were cited as reasons for the selection.[2]


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mohamed Osman Jawari
President of Somalia