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.
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.
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
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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