First Published: 2017-11-13

Somaliland votes for new president
Three candidates are running for breakaway state's top office as Somaliland hopes to prove its democratic credentials.
Middle East Online

In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia

MOGADISHU - Residents of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland voted Monday in its third presidential poll, hoping to prove its democratic credentials and strengthen the case for independence from troubled Somalia.

The northern territory, which is more tribally homogenous and stable than the rest of Somalia, broke away in 1991 and has been striving to attain international recognition ever since.

Three candidates are running for the state's top office, seasoned politicians Muse Bihi of the ruling Kulmiye party and opposition candidates Abdirahman Iro and Faysal Ali Warabe, who was defeated in previous elections in 2010.

"The procedure started peacefully this morning and we are confident that this election is going to be a milestone for the entire region," said Iro as he voted.

Elections are meant to be held every five years, however the poll was delayed for two years due to drought and other technical issues.

Incumbent Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo is not seeking re-election.

Somaliland's history of peaceful, credible elections and democratic transition sets it apart from anarchic southern Somalia, and indeed much of east Africa.

Somalia's election earlier this year saw a president chosen via a limited electoral process that saw handpicked clan elders choosing delegates who were allowed to vote.

- Debates and eye scanners -

Ahead of the Somaliland election, the three main candidates held a televised debate to present their political agendas, focusing on the economy, jobs and international recognition.

"This is a very critical election ... for the youth, they need a leader who can develop the economy and bring jobs so that everybody can stay their country to enjoy their lives," said university student Ismail Mohamed.

The vote is set to be the most sophisticated yet with some 700,000 voters registered using biometric eye scanners which will identify them before they cast their ballots.

A decision by authorities to shut all social media when polling stations close at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) was criticised by Human Rights Watch last week.

Said Ali Muse, spokesman for the national electoral commission, said the move was necessary to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over results.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, won independence in 1960 but days later joined with Somalia. In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, it declared independence from the rest of the country.

 

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues