Somali President Speaks At Ohio State

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud speaks to an audience at The Ohio State University.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud speaks to an audience at The Ohio State University.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)

The president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Monday told a Columbus audience he offers condolences and sympathies to the victims of the mall attack in neighboring Kenya. Mohamud vowed to help bring the attackers to justice. But his visit to Columbus also brought protests.

Mohamud told reporters he plans to visit with the president of Kenya when he returns to Africa. The Somali group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the mall attack in Kenya.

“And we will do all that we can to bring them into justice,” says Mohamud.

Mohamud says reports that some of the attackers may have Somalis who lived in the United States shows the global nature of al-Shabab. The president’s visit to Columbus also revealed a split in the local Somali community. While Mohamud was speaking to a crowd of about 300 inside the Ohio union a group of about 30 protestors outside alleged the new government of Somalia has links to militants.

“We want our country to stabilize. We want to go about our country and rebuild. Unfortunately, one year ago we elected this guy to lead our country,” says a Somali protestor.

Mohamud denied allegations of links to militants. He rejected any allegations his government has militant ties.

“I would say that word is taking represents another agenda but it’s not the true one of the government of Somalia. We are very famous. Our positions are very clear. Our undertakings are very clear. We are there to uproot Shabab and its ideology,” says Mohamud.

President Mohamud was democratically elected in Somalia and the United States recognized his government in 2012. He told supporters at the Ohio Union he wants a united, stable Somalia and has scheduled local elections in 2016.

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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