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Somali exile in Finland bids to win presidency

The strife-torn east African land of Somalia is to elect a new president this August. Some 20 candidates are vying for the post, including one exile based in Helsinki.

Amal Abdi Ibrahim.
Amal Abdi Ibrahim Image: Yle

Amal Abdi Ibrahim left Mogadishu two decades ago at the age of just 17. This summer she is working hard to try and achieve what seems like an impossible dream: becoming the first female president of Somalia.

She has followed the situation in her homeland carefully, and there has been little positive news for the diaspora.

“My heart aches, as I don’t want to see the kind of pictures as there have been over the last few years,” says Ibrahim.

She is concerned at the effect that 20 years of war have had on Somali women. Helping improve the situation of war widows and single mothers is a primary goal of her candidacy.

Strong diaspora presence among candidates

A majority of Somali presidential candidates are exiles, and Ibrahim has picked up plenty of pointers during her time in Finland.

“Working, no corruption, honesty and patriotism. I’ve learnt these things here,” explained the mother-of-five.

There are also more concrete advantages a candidate based in Finland can bring to the race. Helping her campaign is Riikka Kämppi, who was Green candidate Pekka Haavisto’s campaign manager during his insurgent run to the second round of Finland’s presidential election in April.  

The pair will leave for Somalia in August. Despite the challenges she faces as a diaspora-based female candidate, Ibrahim is optimistic.

“The good thing is that people are tired, and want a change,” says Ibrahim. “And a change is coming, Insha’Allah.”

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