As part of the UK-based team coordinating election observers for the much-delayed presidential elections in the internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland, Progressio today expresses its profound disappointment and concern at news that the poll will be postponed indefinitely.
Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK say in a joint statement: “We hoped that the [current political] situation in Somaliland could have been resolved to set Somaliland’s democratisation process back on track. Instead it has become worse. With the extended term of [the incumbent] President, Daahir Rayaale Kaahin, due to expire on 29 October and no constitutional protocol to deal with this unprecedented situation, we have real fears for the country’s democracy and stability.”
The statement continues: “We urge all stakeholders to come together to solve this impasse, to ensure that a process can be put in place for a legitimate poll, with as little delay as possible, but with genuine commitment from all players and a realistic approach to the time needed to ensure a smooth and proper political process.”
Somaliland’s National Electoral Commmittee (NEC) last week announced that the much-delayed poll will not go ahead as planned on 27 September. In recent days, violence has erupted on the streets of Hargeisa leading to the deaths of three Somaliland citizens and the arrest of a number of journalists.
Progressio’s Advocacy Coordinator for Africa, Dr Steve Kibble said: “Somaliland has a long history of dialogue and consensus-building and is often characterised as a beacon of democratisation in Africa. Somaliland’s leaders must now continue this tradition of mediatation and work to achieve a breakthrough.”
Leading Somaliland scholar, Professor Ioan M. Lewis said: “It would be desperately sad if violent incidents were allowed to mar Somaliland's unique reputation for democratic stability which so sharply differentiates it from Somalia.”
The UK-based team, along with FOPAG (Forum for Peace and Governance) in Somaliland, was invited to lead the election observation mission by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission in January. The team has been tasked with coordinating international election observers from four continents and preparing a report on the conduct of the campaign and poll following the vote. Support for the mission is being provided by the UK government.
This week leading authorities on Somaliland – including notable scholars and individual members of the election observation team – issued an open letter to President Daahir Rayaale Kaahin and opposition party leaders Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo and Faisal Ali Waraabe calling for a “speedy resolution” to the crisis.
Notes to editors
1. For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the coordination team, contact Progressio's Media Officer, Jo Barrett, on +44 (0)7940 703911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Somaliland's Presidential elections have been repeatedly delayed. The poll has previously been scheduled for March/April 2008, December 2008 and March 2009.
3. Somaliland is situated in Somalia's northwest. It declared unilateral independence from the failed Somali state in 1991 and has since been a haven of relative peace whilst violence and instability has characterised Somalia, its capital Mogadishu and more recently the Gulf of Aden.
4. Progressio's involvement in the mission follows its leadership of the international monitoring team for Somaliland's inaugural parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as "basically free and fair".
5. Progressio has been working with local communities in Somaliland since 1995 by placing skilled workers with local organisations specialising in advocating for the rights of women, youth and people with disabilities as well as supporting basic health service provision and people living with HIV and AIDS. Progressio also actively supports progress towards democratisation and stabilising the country.
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