The ninth and current president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, has officially renounced his United States citizenship which he acquired while studying in the U.S. after the civil war broke in 1991.
The presidency released a statement confirming the renunciation which he promised to do when he assumed office in February 2017 after several Somali citizens questioned the capabilities of their leaders to serve when most of them are citizens of other countries.
“I am proud to serve my people and always believe in their potential to rebuild this nation. I am neither discouraged by our past, nor daunted by the enormity of the task ahead. I will continue serving my people honestly with the firm belief that real power rests with the people,” Farmaajo tweeted after the statement was issued.
Ahead of the 2017 presidential election, a majority of the 18 presidential candidates were residents of the United States and Canada where they acquired citizenship statuses as refugees.
According to Somalia’s constitution, dual citizenship does not bar anyone from running for presidency so far as they have a Somali passport.
President Farmaajo has once served as prime minister for eight months in 2010-2011 under former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed who asked him to leave his job in the transportation department in Buffalo to assume the position.
He was forced to resign and return to the U.S. under a deal supported by the population who protested when he refused initially. He returned to Somalia in 2012 to run for president which he failed to win despite his popularity.
Farmaajo tried again in 2017 and campaigned in Somalia while his family remained in the United States.
Universal elections are not yet possible in Somalia, therefore, 14,025 clan representatives who form part of an Electoral College elect the 275 members of the Lower House of parliament while regional parliaments elect the 54 members of the Upper House. Members of the two houses vote for the president in accordance with the Provisional Federal Constitution.
According to the BBC, it is not clear if his decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship is because as a US citizen, he was unable to attend the UN General Assembly as a diplomat. He has never attended the assembly since he became president.