Opposition wins in Somaliland elections

The opposition candidate in Somaliland, an unrecognized independent republic in northwest Somalia, prevailed over the incumbent president in elections held late last month and approved by international observers. The election saw the defeat of President Dahir Riyale Kahin and his United Democratic People’s Party (UDUB), which has been in power since independence in 1991. The new president-elect, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo of the Kulmiye party, will be sworn in by July 26. All parties have pledged to respect the result, boosting Somaliland as a “model” for the Horn of Africa.

Silanyo won 49.59% of the vote while the incumbent leader got 33.23%, and a third party got 17.18%. There were 1.09 million registered voters in the region of 3.5 million. Election day did see an attack on a polling station by separatist militia near the border with Puntland, leaving an election observer and three others dead. But promised attacks by Shabab insurgents did not materialize. (Turkish Weekly, July 12; Mail & Guardian, South Africa, July 11; CNN, July 3)

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