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Puntland elects former Somali PM as new president

08 January 2014, 14:27

Mogadishu - Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, a former Somali prime minister, was elected president Wednesday of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, an area of Somalia struggling to shed its image as a pirate haven and still threatened by Islamist militants.

An economist by training, Ali was elected by lawmakers by the narrowest of margins, scoring 33 votes in the third round of polling, just one more than incumbent President Abdurahman Mohamed Farole. One vote was spoilt.

The 66 lawmakers who cast their votes were appointed last month by clan elders in the poverty-stricken region, which forms the tip of the Horn of Africa and makes up around a third of Somalia's territory.

"I am very grateful for the support of my people who trusted me to run Puntland," Ali, in his late forties, told those assembled at the parliament building.

Incumbent Farole accepted defeat gracefully, wished his rival well and said the election had been "clean and democratic".



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