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Five things you need to know about Somaliland’s vote

After a seven-year wait, Somaliland will go to the polls to elect a new leader. Here are five things you need to know:

Why is this election important?

Somalilanders will finally be choosing their new president on November 13 after inadequate funding, political disagreements and drought caused the polls to be delayed for several years.

The presidential election – the third since Somalia’s northern region decided to separate from the rest of the country in 1991 – was originally scheduled at the same time as that for the lower house of parliament, but the two have now, controversially, been separated, with the latter planned for April 2019.

While past efforts to register its electorate were riddled with inconsistencies, this latest attempt – a first in Africa with its use of iris scan biometric technology – has gone smoothly, and all parties have expressed confidence in the process.

President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, whose government has been accused of corruption and nepotism, is stepping down – so the stakes in this election are high.

“The change in leadership after a divisive administration increases the stakes, especially given the delay for those waiting for their chance to take power” Mohamed Farah, director of the Academy for Peace and Development in Somaliland, told Al Jazeera.

What will a new administration have to deal with?

There is the issue of two recent deals with the UAE, which would see it take over and develop the Berbera port, as well as building a military base in Somaliland. Both developments have significant financial and geopolitical implications for Somaliland, and have the potential to shape its future.

“Somaliland will have to play a critical role in the economic development and political stability of the region, … and there is a feeling that such large developments [could] be an issue for a new administration,” Farah explains.

Somaliland’s political system incorporates both traditional elements and modern political structures, but despite instituting a three-party political system to avoid clan-based politics, clan still remains a central factor in Somaliland’s politics.

All three candidates are from the same the clan, but shifting allegiances between sub-clans have been an important aspect in the run-up to the elections.



Taaj Expess