Saturday, 19 September 2009

UK election team dismayed at termination of Somaliland Election

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The UK-based team coordinating election observers for the much-delayed presidential elections in the internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland has expressed its “profound disappointment and concern” at news that the poll will now be postponed indefinitely.

Progressio (the former Catholic Institute for International Relations), 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.”

It continues: “With the extended term of [the incumbent] President Daahir Rayaale Kaahin due to expire on 29 October [2009] and no constitutional protocol to deal with this unprecedented situation, we have real fears for the country’s democracy and stability.”

The statement adds: “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 Commission (NEC) announced last week that the much-delayed poll will not go ahead as planned on 27 September 2009. 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 mediation 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.

To read the full text of the observation team’s latest statement, see:

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