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Five things you need to know about Somaliland’s vote



Hargeisa, Somaliland – After a seven-year wait, Somaliland will go to the polls to elect a new leader. Here are five things you need to know:

Why is this election important?
Somalilanders will finally be choosing their new president on November 13 after inadequate funding, political disagreements and drought caused the polls to be delayed for several years.

The presidential election – the third since Somalia’s northern region decided to separate from from the rest of the country in 1991 – was originally scheduled at the same time as that for the lower house of parliament, but the two have now, controversially, been separated, with the latter planned for April 2019.

While past efforts to register its electorate were riddled with inconsistencies, this latest attempt – a first in Africa with its use of iris scan biometric technology – has gone smoothly, and all parties have expressed confidence in the process.

“The change in leadership after a divisive administration increases the stakes, especially given the delay for those waiting for their chance to take power”


President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, whose government has been accused of corruption and nepotism, is stepping down – so the stakes in this election are high.

“The change in leadership after a divisive administration increases the stakes, especially given the delay for those waiting for their chance to take power” Mohamed Farah, director of the Academy for Peace and Development in Somaliland, told Al Jazeera.

What will a new administration have to deal with?
There is the issue of two recent deals with the UAE, which would see it take over and develop the Berbera port, as well as building a military base in Somaliland. Both developments have significant financial and geopolitical implications for Somaliland, and have the potential to shape its future.

“Somaliland will have to play a critical role in the economic development and political stability of the region, … and there is a feeling that such large developments [could] be an issue for a new administration,” Farah explains.

Somaliland’s political system incorporates both traditional elements and modern political structures, but despite instituting a three party political system to avoid clan based politics, clan still remains a central factor in Somaliland’s politics.

All three candidates are from the same the clan, but shifting allegiances between sub-clans have been an important aspect in the run up to the elections.

Who is standing?

Three candidates are vying to replace Silanyo, the current head of state.

Muse Bihi Abdi, who is standing with Kulmiye, the ruling party, was a commanding officer for the Somali National Movement (SNM) rebel group during the struggle to overthrow President Siad Barre in the 1980s. He also served as interior minister in the 1990s, and worked on reintegrating and rehabilitating ex-combatants during the crucial post war years.

Despite some achievements, such as taking steps to improve stability in the unrecognised country’s eastern regions, the Kulmiye party has been accused of widespread corruption and clanism, and of conducting state business without adequate transparency. For example, Silanyo’s government presided over the controversial deals with the UAE, all the details of which have not been disclosed.

Bihi’s main challenger, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi “Irro”, served as speaker of the lower house of parliament for 12 years until he resigned to take part in the presidential campaign.

Irro’s party, Waddani, has been the most vocal in its criticism of the port and military base deal, and has vowed to review the deals – and possibly withdraw from them – if elected.

Projected to finish third in the polls is long-time leader of the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), Faysal Ali Warabe, who has been opposition leader since the early 2000s. Unlike the other candidates, Warabe is running on an anti-clan agenda, and advocates for a welfare state in Somaliland.

What does the international community think?

An International Election Observation Mission (EOM), funded by the British Government, has been invited to oversee the elections by Somaliland’s own National Electoral Commission (NEC). The EOM includes a team of 60 observers from 27 countries.

“[We’re] particularly hopeful that the implementation of the voter registration system will address issues that have marred previous elections,” the EOM said in a statement.

“It also is a milestone in the sense that, if it goes well, it will mark a maturing of Somaliland’s electoral democracy”


According to Michael Walls, chief observer with the EOM and an academic who has researched Somaliland’s development, “this election is significant because it’s the first time an incumbent is not standing, and because there is a real choice between candidates”.

“It also is a milestone in the sense that, if it goes well, it will mark a maturing of Somaliland’s electoral democracy,” Walls told Al Jazeera. “It shows that Somaliland is capable of keeping the electoral process going, and that’s significant. There are many people, including from the international community, paying attention.”

When are results expected?

The vote will take place on November 13, but results are not expected until November 17th.

All parties have claimed confidence in the NEC, and the transition is expected to be peaceful.


Protests in Somaliland As Opposition Claim Election Fraud



Wadani Party supporters took to the streets of various opposition strongholds to protest what they claim to be election irregularities.

In Burco police used live bullets to disperse protestors.

Riots erupted hours after senior Wadani officials held a press conference on Thursday morning, accusing the ruling party of purchasing and using ballot papers forged with NEC’s official stamp.

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British MP praises Somaliland Elections at the House of Commons



“With recent events in Zimbabwe and total election chaos in Kenya will the Prime Minister join me in celebrating the hugely successful election this week in Somaliland with direct help from this country” Zac Goldsmith British Member of Parliament

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Vote Counting Under Way in Somaliland Presidential Election



WASHINGTON/HARGEISA — Vote counting is underway in Somaliland after the breakaway republic held its presidential election.

Three candidates are competing to replace President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, who opted not to seek re-election.

The three candidates, Muse Bihi Abdi of the ruling Kulmiye party, Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID and Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi of the Waddani party, cast their votes Monday in Hargeisa, the capital.
Somaliland’s electoral commission said voting was peaceful in all of the republic’s six regions. It said it recorded an incident in Togdher region where at least one person was injured after a soldier’s gun accidentally discharged.

Of the more than 1,600 polling stations, only a few had people in line when voting ended at 6 p.m. Electoral officials closed the stations, but allowed those in line to cast their ballots.

Final results are not expected for several days. Under the vote-counting system, polling stations send their results to regional offices, who will pass them on to the electoral commission.
Voting was watched by a total of 60 election observers from 27 countries whose salaries were paid by Britain.

The observers said they heard reports of some problems, but not many.

“I’m referring to isolated instances, with one of the more serious being in Hargeisa where a polling station was closed down because of a disturbance.

That prevented or delayed the closing of the polling station and the count. We’re not sure of details yet,” said the observer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There were also some complaints from parties of voters being prevented from voting, though again, we didn’t hear of anything that seemed systematic or widespread.”

More than 700,000 people were expected to vote. Turnout was thought to be high, but the commission says it was too early to give figures.

Somaliland, a former British colony, broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991. The territory has run its own affairs since, but has never been recognized as an independent country.

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