News / Africa

Opposition Leader Elected Somaliland President

TEXT SIZE - +

An opposition candidate has won the presidential vote held in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.  International observers are hailing what may be the first democratic handover of power in the Horn of Africa.  

The chairman of Somaliland's National Election Commission Issa Mohamud declared Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo as the winner of the June 26 poll, defeating President Dahir Riyale Kahin by a comfortable margin.

The election commission chairman says Mr. Silanyo, who heads the opposition party known as Kulmiye, received nearly 50 percent of the votes cast while the president received 33 percent.  The outgoing leader came in second out of three candidates.

Despite some voting day violence at polling stations in an area contested by Somaliland and neighboring semi-autonomous region of Puntland, international observers said the election was generally free and fair and had met international standards.  

Mr. Silanyo formed Kulmiye in 2002 and ran for the presidency the following year.  In that race, he lost to President Kahin by just 80 votes.  

In recent days, Mr. Kahin stated several times that he would step down peacefully if he lost.  Somaliland observer and author Iqbal Jhazbhay says a smooth transfer of power is now widely expected.

"The president is bound to be held to his word and he will have to abide by his public statements," he said. "I think you will likely see a bit of haggling on logistical issues, but I think there will be a peaceful transfer."

Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo was once a senior minister in the Somali government of Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in the 1980s.  But he quit the government to become the leader of the Somali National Movement, an armed opposition group that fought to topple Siad Barre's regime and helped establish the breakaway region.   

Like his predecessor, Mr. Silanyo is expected to vigorously push for international recognition of the region, which unilaterally declared its independence from Somalia after the fall of the Siad Barre government in 1991.  The success of the poll has raised hopes among supporters that formal recognition will be granted, opening a floodgate of foreign investment and development aid that Somaliland desperately needs.   

But there are Somalis in the disputed eastern part of the former British protectorate, who are vehemently opposed to recognition.  The regions of Sool, Sanaag, and parts of Togdheer are claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland, and the two sides have clashed repeatedly in the past for control of key towns.  Somalis in the disputed regions, who have clan ties to Puntland, have vowed to fight the government in Hargeisa if their land is formally incorporated into Somaliland.  

Further complicating matters is a movement by a group to create a separate administrative region of Sool, Sanaag, and southeastern Togdheer, which Puntlanders call the "Cayn" region.  The group firmly rejects Hargeisa's move to formally secede from the rest of Somalia.  But it is equally wary of Puntland's desire to control the contested regions.

Analysts say the new president will have to perform a delicate balancing act of pushing for recognition without setting off a conflict that could mirror the chaos in southern and central Somalia.  




You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid