Somalia: Presidential contender urges support for Somaliland poll

News and Press Release
Originally published
HARGEYSA, 20 March (IRIN) - As campaigning kicked off for Somaliland's first multiparty presidential elections, leading opposition contender Ahmed Muhammad Silaanyo said the international community should support the self-declared republic's fledgling democratic process.
"What Somaliland is doing is an experiment which is, yes, nebulous and new, but worthwhile and which I believe the international community should help with," he told IRIN on Thursday.

"The international community is now spending so much money on Eldoret [Somali peace talks, now moved to Nairobi] and what is going on there?," he said. "If the international community could

give a fraction of those resources to help the election system in Somaliland, that would be worthwhile, and I am sure the world would be very proud of what we are doing."

Silaanyo is one of two opposition candidates running against incumbent president Dahir Rayale Kahin in polls scheduled for 14 April.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime, but has not been internationally recognised. In the last decade it has moved away from conflict, while the rest of Somalia has been locked in civil strife. Last December, Somaliland's first multiparty elections at local level passed off peacefully.

If elected president, Silaanyo said his priorities would be maintaining peace, the quest for international recognition and the development of Somaliland.

Seeking international recognition is a top priority for all parties running in the elections. There is also a political consensus on the refusal to join the Somali peace talks, currently taking place in Kenya. Somali delegates at those talks continue to press for Somaliland to come.

"The one thing they are agreed upon is not to allow Somaliland to be independent," Silaanyo said. "That's a very, very negative thing ... I think it would have been much more fruitful, useful, intelligent, positive, if they were to say - congratulations to our brothers in the north, or in Somaliland, we wish them well."


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