Election campaigns intensify ahead of Somaliland’s crucial polls

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Supporters of Somaliland's ruling party candidate Muse Bihi gather at a public square in the port city of Berbera before he delivered a speech. Photo/Jamal Ibrahim

The much anticipated November 13th elections will be Somaliland’s fourth post-war presidential election since it declared a unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

By Jamal Ibrahim, jamal@alleastafrica.com

HARGEISA – Just a few days before people in the breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somaliland go to the polling stations, political campaigns have entered their final stages, as one of the leading candidates continues touring across the enclave, addressing supporters who promised their support.

The much anticipated November 13th elections will be Somaliland’s fourth post-war presidential election since it declared a unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

Three presidential candidates from the three major political parties will be competing in this year’s elections, including Muse Bihi, one of the most popular politicians in Somaliland amongst others.

Muse Bihi, a top candidate running for Somaliland presidency greets supporters in the port city Berbera. Photo/Jamal Ibrahim

Meanwhile, many in Somaliland have lauded Mr. Bihi for helping Somaliland slowly regain its political standing following bloody wars with the deposed Somalia’s central government that spanned 2 years in 1990s, by helping restore order that enabled holding successive peaceful democratic elections.

Addressing thousands of supporters in the port city of Berbera on Tuesday, Mr. Bihi, the flagbearer of the ruling party, Kulmiye has lauded the achievements of the government in every sphere of life including road network, hospitals, education and other development schemes which have benefited the cross sections of the society.

Supporters of the top Somaliland presidential candidate Muse Bihi react during a rally in the port city of Berbera. Photo/Jamal Ibrahim

He warned that the politics of hatred is dangerous for Somaliland and urged the people to reject the communal and divisive forces and strengthen and progressive forces in order to strengthen the unity and integrity of the enclave.

“Together, we can rebuild a strong and democratic Somaliland, so your support and votes will make a big difference.” he told cheering supporters gathered at the city’s main square.

Despite attempts by the government which secured several investment projects to boost the economy devastated by war, critics complain reforms have been slow.

In the meantime, members of the European Union’s election observer mission have arrived in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital to witness the upcoming election.

Last week, Somaliland held presidential debates for the first time to enable candidates spell out their plans for the region amid a growing fever for the election being closely watched by the international community.

Supporters of the top Somaliland presidential candidate Muse Bihi react during a rally in the port city of Berbera. Photo/Jamal Ibrahim

Despite the numerous challenges that a new president will face, many voters are hoping for a government that will maintain the ongoing efforts for economic transformation and maintain peace in Somaliland.

“We need a president who can contribute to the welfare of Somaliland.” said Ahmed Mohamed, a university lecturer in Hargeisa.

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 two and half years extension mandate.

The next president 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.

A supporter of the top Somaliland presidential candidate Muse Bihi reacts during a rally in the port city of Berbera. Photo/Jamal Ibrahim

Despite the considerable public support for Mr. Bihi, political observers in Somaliland, the upcoming election will be highly contested, with all parties continue to campaign across Somaliland.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. Subject: Election campaigns intensify ahead of Somaliland’s crucial polls,By Jamal Ibrahim, Nov 3, 2017

    Commentary, 3 Nov 2017
    I wrote a few commentaries on Somalia with one and only one theme: LEAVE SOMALIA for the SOMALIS.

    So, why am I here?
    Oh! just one little observation on a line in the news item : >>> Quote:”In the meantime, members of the European Union’s election observer mission have arrived in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital to witness the upcoming election.” Unquote

    I can’t help wondering: would our glorious ‘African Union’s election observer mission’ go to any European election as reciprocal observer mission?

    AHHH…. AFRICA, the everlasting colonial entity!!!

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