Members of Parliament in a semi-autonomous state in Somalia chose a new president Sunday in a federal-government backed process, days after two rival politicians claimed the post for themselves.
Galmudug’s parliament elected Ahmed Abdi Kariye – a former state minister better known by his nickname Qoor-Qoor – by 66 to 77 votes, and he was hailed as president by Somalia’s central government and welcomed by the U.S. embassy.
But two other parties had already proclaimed their leaders as president – arguing that central government wields too much influence over the regional parliamentary vote.
The power struggle in the central region, which lies between the capital Mogadishu and the self-governing region of Puntland, is seen as critical for wider security in the Horn of Africa nation -where political rivals often resolve disputes through violence.
“Kariye… secured two-thirds of the vote, plus six, which makes him win the presidency,” said the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Gacal Asir.
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire both congratulated the regional president on his win in the election.
But the rival claimants have rejected the government-backed process.
The Ahlu-Sunna Waljama’a party has already designated its leader Sheik Mohamed Shakir as president.
And former state president Ahmed Duale also claims the leadership and formed his own parliament last week.
The U.S. embassy in Somalia congratulated Kariye on his election, and urged people not to resort to violence to solve disagreements.
“Galmudug is critical to the future of Somalia and to the continued response to ongoing threats to the security of the Somali people,” the embassy said.
“A reenergized process of dialogue and compromise will be necessary on all sides.”
Rival warlords have competed for power ever since Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991.
Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab fighters have taken advantage of the anarchy to launch regular attacks to topple the internationally backed government in the capital Mogadishu.