The Buffalo area can claim the new leader of Somalia as one of its own.
Somalia's new president, Mohamed A. Mohamed, who is better known as Mohamed A. Farmajo, has lived in Western New York since the late 1980s. Mohamed is a dual U.S.-Somali national who graduated from the University at Buffalo and worked for local and state government.
"He still has a great deal of family in the Buffalo area, and friends and we're all excited and happy for him," said Joel Giambra.
A former Erie County Executive, Giambra has been close friends with Mohamed, nicknamed "Farmajo," for nearly 20 years.
Mohamed worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia before the collapse of the federal government in 1991 and the ensuing civil war. Between 1985 and 1988, he also acted as First Secretary in the Somali embassy in Washington and worked with various human rights organizations. In 2010/2011 Mohamed served several months as prime minister of Somalia.
Giambra says Mohamed put his life on the line by running for president.
"When he was prime minister there were attempts to kill him and attempts on his life. So he's obviously a man of great courage and great conviction," Giambra said.
It's a great opportunity, Giambra says, for Mohamed to collaborate with fellow New Yorker, U.S. President Donald Trump, on eradicating terrorism in Somalia and across the world.
"So we're very proud of his efforts. We're very proud of his courage and his integrity. And finally the people of Somalia have a leader who will put their needs and their priorities first," Giambra said.
Trump's executive order barring travel to seven mostly Muslim countries includes Somalia. According to the Associated Press, Mohamed's swearing in moves the country toward its first fully functioning central government in 25 years.