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Supporters, Protesters To Greet Somali President

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota has one of the country’s largest populations of people of Somali descent, and on Friday they will be introduced to their home country’s new president.

Thousands are on expected at the Convention Center for President Hassan Mahamud’s speech. Some are going to listen, and others are going to protest. There is a growing number of Somalians who do not believe in Mahamud’s ability to govern. And for the first time in more than 20 years, Somalia does not have a transitional government. It’s the topic of conversation throughout the Somali-American community.

“There is a lot of opposition to his comments and political beliefs,” said Jon Mohammed, who lives in Minnesota.

The new president, who has been seen publicly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, is slated to speak before thousands of his brothers and sisters, who now call Minneapolis home.

Many attending want to celebrate Mahamud’s decision to speak to the masses. But some have doubts. They’re concerned about the president’s supposed lack of vision, for how he will stabilize and secure a country that has been engaged in a civil war for decades.

“I don’t want us to go back to a war again,” said Somali community activist Roda Rabi.

She is one of hundreds who plans to protest the president.

“He came into power as a result of a road map that was laid by the United Nations and the International community, so we want him to respect that road map,” Rabi said.

She is concerned that Mahamud will not recognize the country’s new federal constitution, which sets up a government similar to that of the United States, where states create their own constitutions and decide who governs.

Some think the community has to give Mahamud time to settle into his governing role.

“This group just came into power in October, so you just can’t be born today and start running the next day,” said Ibrahim Abiikar, a delegate who plans to welcome the president when he arrives.

He hopes Somalians are patient and that they wait to see how the president plans to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions and provide services to its people.

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