Somaliland Opposition Leader Silanyo Wins Presidential Vote

Somaliland’s opposition leader Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo won the June 26 presidential election in the breakaway region of Somalia, in a vote that observers said met international standards.

Silanyo took 49.6 percent of the vote, ahead of President Dahir Riyale Kahin with 33.2 percent and Faisal Ali Warabe of the Justice and Welfare Party with 17.2 percent, the National Electoral Commission said yesterday in Hargeisa, the capital. Turnout was about 55 percent of the estimated 1 million registered voters, according to the commission.

Silanyo, speaking today by phone, said his Kulmiye party would introduce a “leaner and more efficient government” that would be “prepared to work fully with the international community on issues of anti-terrorism and piracy.”

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, after the fall of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. No sovereign state has recognized the region as an independent nation. The election was delayed for two years because of wrangling over voter registration.

The losing parties have 10 days to make formal complaints about the preliminary results to the Supreme Court. Mahdi Gulaid, a legal adviser to the commission, said he expected a challenge from President Riyale’s party.

“I think they have grievances and complaints,” he said today by phone from Hargeisa. “I think they will complain.”

Riyale became president of the former British colony in 2002 and won election to the post in 2003, after his party defeated Kulmiye by 80 votes. His term expires on July 26.

‘Democratic Adherence’

Three U.K.-based groups that monitored the vote said the election was peaceful and praised the candidates “for their adherence to the democratic process.”

“Despite the many delays in the run-up to the election, the mission would like to point out that the days prior to the polling day -- and polling day itself -- were notable for their spirit of peacefulness and goodwill,” Progressio, a London-based development agency that was part of an observer mission of three groups, said yesterday in a statement.

Silanyo said he hoped the election would prompt the international community to “give more attention to Somaliland’s recognition and development.”

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