[Update: Polls have now closed. Here is a VOA story with interview with Dr. Steve Kibble of Progressio.]
Voters in Somaliland will chose local officials around the country, and the results will determine the three officially recognized political parties for the next ten years under the Somaliland Constitution. Kulmiye, UDUB and UCID have been the three parties, and will face competition from recognized “political associations”. The three parties will then compete in the future parliamentary and presidential elections.
Here is the link to the “From the Ground” blog from Progressio, which is leading the international monitoring. Also follow the hashtag #SomalilandElection.
Here in the capital voting started around 7 a.m. in most of the 404 polling stations including Ga’an Libah, where President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo cast his vote. He was joined by first lady Amina Sheikh Mohamed Jirde and members of his cabinet including minister of presidency, interior, minister of finance and members of the ruling Kulmiye Party.
The president expressed a sense of opportunism and congratulated the people of Somaliland for their commitment to democracy and stability.
He urged everyone to vote peacefully and respect the electoral officials, volunteers, observers and the outcome of the result.
An international observation team of 56 from 15 countries is on the ground monitoring the elections. They see this as a crucial step in the democratization of the whole Horn of Africa region. Two teams from Puntland and Mogadishu are also there to observe and discover their neighbour’s voting system.
The polls close 6 p.m. and results might not be known until the weekend. . . .
Fighting was reported with militias in the town of Hudan in Sool, in the uncertain eastern border region with Puntland.