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An Analysis Of Elections In Somaliland - 2003-04-14

A Somali-born analyst says today’s presidential election in the breakaway republic of Somaliland represents yet more proof of stability in the self-declared republic.

Professor Said Samatar of Rutgers University says the election also sends a powerful message to the international community that, despite its fragility, Somaliland is capable of cleaning its house and maintaining itself. He says on the issue of recognition, he senses some flexibility on the part of the international community. He points to the presence of South African, West African and American observers at today’s election.

Regarding the war in Iraq, Professor Samatar says Somaliland exhibits what he calls a split personality, a sense of islamic solidarity with the Iraqi people, coupled with a cautious approach not to upset the United States.

In Monday's elections, President Dahir Riyale Kahin faces a strong challenge from two opposition candidates: Ahmed Muhammad Silaanyo of the Kulmiye Party, and Faisal Ali Warabe of the Justice and Welfare Party. Mr. Kahin succeeded the long-standing leader of Somaliland, Mohamed Egal, after his death last May.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime. The territory has yet to win any international recognition. Professor Samatar spoke with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje.