Somalia’s Former Prime Minister Settles Back Into His Desk Job in Buffalo, N.Y.

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Tony Gentile / Reuters

Former Somalian Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (L) poses with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome January 20, 2011.

Mohamed A. Mohamed once again holds down his comfortable desk job at the New York State Department of Transportation in Buffalo. He’s glad to have a semblance of normal life back after his grueling previous job – as Somalia’s prime minister.

How did a civil servant from upstate New York find himself in such a powerful position? The Buffalo News notes he was offered the job on the spot by Somalia’s president last October during a meeting at the United Nations. That’s right: Mohamed, born in Mogadishu but educated in the U.S., became prime minister of his homeland with little more than a handshake, despite almost no knowledge of global politics.

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After a swift confirmation from Somalia’s parliament, Mohamed was sworn into office in November 2010. He began a grueling schedule of parliamentary proceedings and international development while fighting the ills that befall the African nation: lack of food, medicine, sanitation and, well, even a functional government. “Everywhere was dysfunction. You’re starting from scratch,” Mohamed told the Buffalo News. Working 15-hour days led to him dropping 20 pounds from the stress of the job.

Mohamed’s performance was seemingly well-received by the Somali public. But tensions between him and the speaker of parliament led to a deal in June that involved Mohamed’s resignation, just eight months after he took power.  He promptly returned home to his old life in Buffalo.

His coworkers celebrated his return with cake. We’re sure it never tasted sweeter.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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