Polls in breakaway Somaliland ‘transparent’: observers

Polls in breakaway Somaliland

Council elections took place November 28, with over 2,300 candidates contesting 379 positions (AFP/File, Simon Maina)

NAIROBI — Local elections in the self-declared nation of Somaliland were “largely peaceful and transparent”, international observers said Monday, but noted concern at “weaknesses in safeguards against multiple voting.”

Council elections across the northern Somali region, a rare area of relative stability compared to war-torn southern Somalia, took place on November 28, with over 2,300 candidates contesting for 379 positions.

“We can cautiously report many positives,” the report read from the 50-strong international team of observers, organised by the British aid agency Progressio.

“Election campaigning appears to have been competitive and pluralistic, with seven different parties and associations fielding candidates.”

However, the team said there were some concerns, the most serious being an “absence of a voter registry, and weaknesses in related safeguards”.

That included inadequate indelible ink used to stain fingers of those who voted, making polling “vulnerable to multiple voting.”

Results are due in coming days, with the observers to release a further statement after that.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, won independence in 1960 but days later joined with Somalia. In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, it declared independence from the rest of the country.

While anarchic southern Somalia has been riven by years of fighting between multiple militia forces, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace.

Copyright © 2012 AFP

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