Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Somalia's prominent opposition leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was elected the country's new President on Saturday.
Ahmed replaces his foe, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who resigned in December and sought refuge in neighbouring Yemen.
Somalia's expanded parliament, comprising 550 lawmakers, elected the former Speaker of Parliament after a three-round vote in Djibouti.
Ahmed, the leader of the moderate Islamist movement, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) - one of the powerful Islamist groups in the country - was elected President after a night-long parliamentary sitting which saw him garner 213 votes, a UN source told PANA.
Ahmed, the first official of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to fall out with former President Yusuf, after failing to convene a parliamentary sitting to approve the list of the country's first cabinet, was forced out of his seat and immediately joined the opposition ranks.
He was among the Somali leaders who strongly opposed the presence of the Ethiopian troops in Somali territory, and he also initiated negotiations with the TFG in exile and pushed for the immediate withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from Somalia.
African Union Commission President Jean Ping said that the situation in Somalia had been improving on the political front, following the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops.
ARS, the political party with a military wing on the ground, has been cooperating with the TFG in maintaining security in Mogadishu after the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops.
"We have reason to be optimistic about Somalia because the Djibouti agreement is being implemented on the ground," Ping said earlier this week.
The United Nations Political Office for Somalia has been pushing for a political agreement on Somalia.
The negotiations for the formation of a joint government led to the signing of a peace agreement on the crisis in 26 October, allowing for the formation of a joint security committee of ARS and TFG.
The new Somali President is expected to take the oath of office and travel to Addis Ababa to join other African leaders meeting here 1-3 February.
More than 14 candidates vied for Somalia's top political post, among them current Prime Minister Nur Hussein Hassan Adde.