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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
A historic journey from opposition to the Puntland presidency

GAROWE, Somalia Jan 8 (Garowe Online) - A much-anticipated regional election in Somalia's self-governing State of Puntland ended peacefully on Thursday with the democratic election of Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole," Radio Garowe reports.

Dr. Farole, 63, won in the third round of voting by the 66-seat Puntland Parliament, which essentially functions as the region's Electoral College.

He received 49 votes in the final round, while the closest runner-up, Gen. Abdullahi Ahmed "Ilkajir," received 17 votes, giving Dr. Farole a 74% victory over his closest opponent, an unprecedented victory margin in Puntland election history.

Gen. Mohamud "Adde" Muse, the ex-Puntland president who fell out in the second round, congratulated new President Farole, describing him as a "strong leader" who can change Puntland.

Both Gen. Ilkajir and ex-Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, who was present as an observer, congratulated the new Puntland leader.

For the VP post, Gen. Abdisamad Ali Shire of Sool region beat his closest challenger – Saleban Isse Ahmed, from USA – with 43 votes.

Victory speech

Dr. Farole, Puntland's new president, addressed the full parliament after his victory, with his speech broadcasted live on local radio and over the Internet.

He briefly described his educational and political qualifications, naming top positions he has held in the past, including Puntland finance minister and governor of Nugal region under UN administration in the 1990s.

"My motto is: Peace, Justice and Development," President Farole told Puntland lawmakers.

He promised socio-economic development and vowed to establish a "welfare society," where the poor and weak are assisted by the regional government.

According to the new leader, the Farole administration will establish an organized and effective Puntland security force that can restore law and order across the vast region in Somalia's northeast.

"My priorities will be restoring security, improving public service, developing economic sectors and empowering the free-market economy," Dr. Farole said.

He spoke at length about his policy regarding relations with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), saying: "We will never allow anyone to violate the federal system."

President Farole told lawmakers in his victory speech that he will promote "good relations with all neighbors, on land or at sea."

On Somaliland, Puntland's new leader vowed to retake control of the disputed regions – Sool and Sanaag – but cited the use of a "strategic plan found on consultation."

"Puntland will never declare independence and will always support the establishment of a national government in Mogadishu," Dr. Farole said, while referring to Somalia's official capital where Islamist rebels are attacking TFG troops.

Who is Dr. Farole?

A native of Nugal region, where Puntland's capital Garowe is located, Dr. Abdirahman Farole, was the region's de facto opposition leader since early 2006, when a political dispute erupted between him and then-President Adde Muse.

Farole returned to Puntland in November, where he received massive welcomes in Bossaso, Qardho and Garowe, his home town. He had spent the prior two years pursuing a doctoral degree at La Trobe University in Australia.

He becomes the fourth president of Puntland, after Abdullahi Yusuf (1998-2004), Mohamed Abdi Hashi (2004-2005) and Adde Muse (2005-2009), and will hold the position for the next four years.

During his victory speech, Dr. Farole promised to enact a multi-party political system "within the first year," while telling Puntland MPs that he would create a new constitution.

As one of Puntland's founding fathers, Dr. Farole has spent many years in the region holding key positions and interacting with local players, as well as the international community while he was the region's planning minister under ex-President Muse.

Puntland's well-organized election ended peacefully, but Dr. Farole's administration inherits a regional authority in tatters amid high risk of terrorism and piracy

Source: Garowe Online

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