Somalia’s former defense minister Mohamed Mursal Sheikh was Monday elected new speaker of Somalia’s parliament lower house in a tightly contested race to replace Mohamed Osman Jawari who resigned earlier this month after a political stand-off.

Abdiwali Ibrahim Mudey, the deputy speaker of the Parliament, announced that Mursal garnered 147 votes against closest rival Ibrahim Yarow who managed 118 votes.Mursal, a former ambassador to Turkey, thanked the lawmakers and pledged to work with them in bringing together a divided House after two months of political disputes.

Mursal had garnered 83 votes in the first round of voting followed by Yarow with 69, Abdiaziz Lafta-garaan with 54 and Sharif Abdallah with 19.Both Laftagaraan and Abdallah dropped out of the race before the second round, leaving Mursal and Yarow to fight it out.Security was tight in the Lower House building with Somali and African Union forces ringing off the premises. The building has been a constant target of al-Shabab militants in the past.Mursal will now become the second speaker since Somalia ended the transitional federal government in 2012.

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