A senior al-Shabab official has said his Islamic rebel group opposes the election of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as Somalia’s president.
Hassan Yaqub Ali, who is a member of al-Shabab leadership and the extremist group’s governor of Galgudud region, threatened that the group will target clans and anyone who collaborates with the new president.
“We will fight against him during his four-year term,” he said in a speech aired by al-Shabab media Saturday night.
Farmajo was chosen by the Somali parliament February 8 in an election widely welcomed and celebrated by Somalis.
Many who celebrated praised Farmajo’s work during his seven months as prime minister in 2010 and 2011. At the time, Farmajo paid salaries of government staff and military. He also played a key role in mobilizing a weak Somali army to fight alongside AU troops in an offensive that pushed al-Shabab away from the presidential palace.
The al-Shabab official appeared to have been worried by Farmajo’s popularity, saying that the new president is not a “patriot.”
In response to the countrywide celebrations, Ali said the demonstrations were “organized by paid NGOs.”
Farmajo had been living in the U.S. before his election and is a dual Somali-American citizen.
Ali said Farmajo will be “worse” than his predecessors because of his dual citizenship.
“Anyone carrying a foreign passport is not a patriot, Farmajo is an American,” he said.
“We have our own way of measuring things, we have our own lenses, don’t fall for the propaganda.”
It’s the first official response by a leading al-Shabab commander on the election of the new Somali president.
The new president will be inaugurated Wednesday. In a brief comment the president made after his election win, Farmajo said he will prioritize security, establish justice, and help the poor and those affected by the droughts.
Farmajo also said the African Union troops will stay in the country until the national army is rebuilt.
The al-Shabab official criticized the statement, saying it proves the new president is not ready to remove foreign troops from the country.