High spirits and a celebratory atmosphere have characterised the political campaign rallies in the run-up to a long-awaited presidential election in the self-declared state of Somaliland, which is due to take place on November 13.
This is Somaliland’s first presidential election since 2010, and the stakes are high. Three candidates – Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID party, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi of Waddani party and Muse Bihi Abdi, of the ruling Kulmiye party – are vying to replace Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, the current head of state.
The contest was delayed for more than two years due to voter registration issues, lack of funding and a devastating drought.
The process will be witnessed by international election observers funded by the UK government, as well as a team of over 600 domestic observers who will be reporting on polling day using SMS.
It is hoped that a hi-tech voter registration system using iris-recognition software will guard against electoral fraud.
In the past, there have been allegations that competing clans encouraged their members to register multiple times to increase their political influence.
Since Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 following a bloody civil war, the region has held five largely peaceful elections and one constitutional referendum, forging a political system that combines traditional leadership with modern representative democracy.
The fact that it is not officially recognised by any other country means that Somaliland’s political situation is complex, and the Somali Federal Government in Mogadishu still lays claim to its territory.
Anglo-Turkish Genel Energy might starting drilling in Somaliland in 2019 -CEO
LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) – Kurdistan-focused Genel Energy might start drilling in Somaliland next year, Chief Executive Murat Ozgul said on Thursday, as the group reported 2017 results broadly in line with expectations.
“For the long term, I really like (our) Somaliland exploration assets. It’s giving me a sense of Kurdistan 15 years ago,” Ozgul said in a phone interview. “In 2019 we may be (starting) the drilling activities.”
Chief Financial Officer Esa Ikaheimonen said Genel will focus spending money from its $162 million cash pile on its existing assets in Kurdistan but added: “You might see us finding opportunities… somewhere outside Kurdistan.”
UAE to train Somaliland forces under military base deal: Somaliland president
ABU DHABI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will train Somaliland security forces as part of a deal to establish a military base in the semi-autonomous region, Somaliland’s president said on Thursday.
UAE government officials could not immediately be reached for comment – but the UAE has committed to invest hundreds of million dollars in recent years in the territory on a strategically important stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Aden.
The UAE began construction last year of a base on a site at the airport of the Somaliland port city Berbera, and will be allowed to maintain a presence for 30 years. Berbera is less than 300 km (190 miles) south of war-torn Yemen, where UAE troops are fighting rebels as part of a Saudi-backed coalition.
President Muse Bihi Abdi said the UAE would train police and military in Somaliland, which wants independence from war-torn Somalia but is not recognized internationally. He said he expected the agreement to be finalised within two months.
“They have the resources and the knowledge,” Abdi told Reuters in an interview in Abu Dhabi.
UAE has become more assertive in its foreign policy in recent years. The UAE Armed Forces have been fighting in the Yemen conflict since 2015 and in the past deployed in international operations including Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Abdi said the military base, which he expects will be completed this year, will guarantee economic development and security for Somaliland and act as a deterrent to extremist groups in the region.
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire, who was present during the interview, declined to disclose how many UAE soldiers would be stationed at the base.
Several regional powers have set up military bases along the Horn of Africa coastline, including Turkey in Somalia’s capital. The United States, China, Japan and France all have bases in neighboring Djibouti.
“It’s safer to have a lot of military in the area,” Abdi said.
Abdi said he hoped UAE investments, including a new civilian airport and a road connecting Berbera to landlocked Ethiopia, will lead to a “huge creation of employment” in Somaliland where unemployment is rampant.
“The biggest threat to Somaliland is poverty,” he said.
Dubai’s DP World is also developing Berbera port and building a free trade zone nearby.
This week, Somalia’s parliament voted to ban DP World from the country, an act that it said had nullified the agreement.
Abdi said the vote was a “joke” and a “political mistake” that would have no impact on the DP World agreement that includes the government of Ethiopia.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto state since then..
Abdi also said he expected the UAE would make a hard currency deposit into Somaliland’s central bank but added that there had been no agreement between the two sides.
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