Opposition candidate wins Somaliland election
By Mohamed Olad Hassan
An opposition candidate won the presidential vote held in the self-declared republic of Somaliland last weekend, election officials said Thursday.
Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo has said he hopes the presidential election will help win Somaliland international recognition. The National Electoral Commission of Somaliland declared Silanyo the winner with 49.6 percent of the vote.
The region’s outgoing president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, came in second out of three candidates. Kahin said he would honor a pre-vote pledge to accept the results even if he lost.
Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has been a haven of relative peace in northwest Somalia as southern Somalia has degenerated into chaos and anarchy. The region has its own security and police forces, justice system and currency, but is not recognized by any other state.
Echoing the three candidates, residents in Somaliland also said they hoped the vote would win more respect for the region and maintain the peace that has eluded southern Somalia since the 1991 ouster of longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre by warlords.
Somaliland’s second presidential election was frequently delayed. It was first scheduled for 2008, and then for 2009 before taking place on Saturday.
A voting-day skirmish killed four people in a contested area of Somaliland but the vote was otherwise peaceful. A militia from the neighboring Puntland region tried to raid a polling station in an area claimed by Somaliland and Puntland.
The International Republican Institute, a U.S. observer group, said it found few voting irregularities in the region.