Somalilandsun – Members of the Somali diaspora living in the US city of Boston on Sunday feted the former president of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who is currently a resident at a leading local university.
Sheikh Ahmed is the latest beneficiary of the former-Presidents-in-Residence fellowship initiated by Boston University in Massachusetts, USA.
Sheikh Ahmed started his fellowship in January, four months after losing the presidential contest in Somalia, on September 10 last year.
The scholarship is administered by the African Presidential Archives and Research Centre (APARC) based at the university.
Though having a chequered past in Somalia’s volatile politics, Sheikh Ahmed was widely praised for the peaceful handover of power after he lost the election. It was the first such transfer witnessed in Somalia in four decades.
A key criteria of winning the APARC scholarship is that the beneficiary be an African leader who handed over power peacefully to an elected successor. Sheikh Ahmed was succeeded in office by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.
Somali community members who visited him at the university commended his efforts in leading Somalia through a very difficult transitional period.
“Your participation in the presidential contest and your acceptance of the results was a demonstration of democracy coming back to Somalia,” said a community member.
APARC’s director and former US ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Charles Stith, also spoke at the occasion and wished Somalia well. “We urge Somalis to preserve the integrity of their government and its dignity by supporting the administration,” he said.
Under the APARC programme, former heads of state of African democracies are invited to live and work at Boston University for up to two years, sharing their insights and expertise with the university and broader communities on the economies and politics of their countries.
APARC hosts programmes, including debates on public policy, to extend knowledge of the complexities and resources in Africa.
Previous beneficiaries of APARC’s Former-Presidents-In-Residence fellowship are Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, Liberia’s Ruth Sando Perry, Botswana’s Ketumile Masire and Cape Verde’s António Mascarenhas Monteir