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Hargeisa Violence Attributed to Electoral Tensions

By Ashenafi Abedje
14 September 2009

Somaliland’s representative to the US, Sa’ad Noor, attributes recent violent demonstrations in Hargeisa to disagreements over voter registration. Noor made his comments a day after President Dahir Riyale Kahin called on the opposition to show restraint.

The electoral board recently postponed presidential elections set for September 27. The decision led to rioting last week that resulted in the deaths of three people. Some in the opposition blame the president for the delay.

“President Riyale’s decision,” said Noor, “was based on the decision of the National Electoral Commission, the only constitutional body that has the power to do that.All he did from the point of view of the technicality of it is to concur with their decision,” he said.

“The real problem was the voter registration list, which was found to be faulty and flawed,” said Noor.“Therefore, the commission found out that they cannot base a democratic election on such a voter registration list, especially in a polity that had been known to be free, fair and democratic.”

The Somaliland representative described the electoral commission as “democratically elected, fully representative and truly independent.”

The breakaway republic has long been regarded as an island of peace and stability in a turbulent region.Noor attributed the current political stand-off to what he characterizes as “the frailty of a young democracy” and accompanying “institutional weaknesses.”

Noor said the current political unease may give pause to some in the international community.But, he said, “what we are going through is a temporary hiccup and we’re going to take care of it.”

While the current controversy may raise some questions in the short run, “it will neither taint Somaliland’s positive image nor diminish our prospects for international recognition” he said.

When all is said and done, said Noor, Somaliland remains a functioning democracy.

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