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In campaign push, one presidential hopeful aims to clean up Somaliland politics

Many voters in Somaliland see Mr. Bihi as their best hope of defeating corruption and promote the region’s long-running battle for an international recognition for the former British protectorate which broke away from Somalia in 1991.

by Jamal Ibrahim, jamal@alleastafrica.com

HARGEISA – With just two months left before the people of the breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somaliland choose their president, one of the leading candidates pledges to boost the enclave’s long-running battle for an international recognition and fight corruption.

Embarking on his one-week campaign rally across Somaliland last week, Muse Bihi, 69, a former military colonel who announced his presidential ambition last year under the ticket of his party, Kulmiye founded by the outgoing Somaliland president Ahmed Silanyo said he’d eradicate corruption, one of his long-held promises.

Muse Bihi, a Somaliland presidential candidate laughs as he spoke to his supporters in Burao town in Somaliland./Jamal Ibrahim/Alleastafrica

“Corruption is the enemy of our development and if elected, my government will fight hard to eradicate it.” he said, speaking to thousands of supporters in a rally in Burao, a remote town in Togdher region, amid applause.

Many voters in Somaliland see Mr. Bihi as their best hope of defeating corruption and promote the region’s long-running battle for an international recognition for the former British protectorate which broke away from Somalia in 1991. However, no country has so far recognized it as an independent state.

Mr. Bihi, one of the most experienced politicians in Somaliland who helped post-conflict reconciliation process and the reconstruction of Somaliland has spent almost his entire life in Somaliland, making him the only candidate on the list seen by many equipped with exceptional knowledge about the region.

Supporters of Somaliland’s presidential candidate Muse Bihi clap as he is welcomed into Burao town in Somaliland./Jamal Ibrahim/Alleastafrica

During his campaign trip which covered dozens of towns and villages in Somaliland, Mr. Bihi countered questions about his plans his economy recovery plans.

“Of course, the capacity of our current economy is not adequate for all, but it’s our plan to improve it.” he told his supporters in Las-Dawo, a remote town in eastern Somaliland.

TESTING OF WAR

Mr. Bihi, one of the most experienced politicians in Somaliland who helped post-conflict reconciliation process and the reconstruction of Somaliland has spent almost his entire life in Somaliland, making him the only candidate on the list seen by many equipped with exceptional knowledge about the region.

Muse Bihi, a Somaliland presidential candidate arrives with his entourages in Burao town in Somaliland./Jamal Ibrahim/Alleastafrica

CAREER

Born into a middle-class family in 1948 in Hargeisa, Muse Bihi who secured his first Military Air force and Pilot Training degree from Djemba military academy in Russia run by the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1970 was one of the first four Somali military officers to visit the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (The Pentagon) in 1981.

In 1981, the former military colonel has also attended a short course on Ethical Issues in the Global Arms Industry in Dayton, Ohio before he moved to Fort Lee military academy in Virginia where he has attended short courses in military science.

Muse Bihi, a Somaliland presidential candidate lwalks among his supporters during a rally in Burao town in Somaliland./Jamal Ibrahim/Alleastafrica

FAMILY

Mr. Bihi, a father of seven lives with his family in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital which has been his political base since he ventured into politics in 1990s.

NOVEMBER 13, 2017 ELECTIONS

Currently, three candidates from the three top political parties have expressed interest in the upcoming presidential election as president Silanyo is expected to end his one term plus eight months extension mandate.

If elected, Mr. Bihi will be the 5th president of Somaliland which has broken away from Somalia in 1991 and will serve four years which can be renewed twice.

According to political observers in Somaliland, the upcoming election will be highly contested, with all parties continue to campaign across Somaliland.

In the meantime, Mr. Bihi can bank on the backing of heavyweight politicians who threw their support behind him, considering him to be a man who can promote the long-lasting battle for an international recognition.

The former British protectorate has been battling for an international recognition since it broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991, however no country has so far recognize it as an independent state.

(Additional reporting and editing by Judy Maina in Nairobi, Kenya)

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