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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Somaliland awaits poll result
Queues to vote
Delegations from the EU and US are observing the polls
People in the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland have voted in their first multi-party presidential election.

Almost one million voters were thought to have cast their ballots, hoping the election could boost its attempts to secure international recognition.

Votes are now being counted after a largely peaceful poll, with a final result expected on Thursday.

The current leader of Somaliland, Dahir Riyaale Kahin, is being challenged by candidates from two opposition parties.

Mr Kahin took office last year, following the death of the long-standing leader of the breakaway republic, Mohamed Egal, in May.

The relatively stable area of Somaliland announced its secession from Somalia in 1991, as the rest of the country descended into anarchy.

Mr Egal was elected president two years later, but the territory has never won international recognition.

The vote was reported to be largely trouble free and fair, but there was no voting in three eastern districts bordering neighbouring Puntland, where some violence was reported.

Main challenger

The three parties are known as:

  • the ruling UDUB, or United Peoples Party
  • the Kulmiye party, which translates bringing people together
  • the UCID or Welfare and Development Party.

Somaliland¿s leader voted this morning

The president's main challenger appears to be veteran Somali politician, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, of the Kulmiye party.

He was a major player in the united Somalia Government of Siad Barre in the 1980s. But he left to lead the Somali National Movement which fought against Barre and ousted him from what is now called Somaliland.

During the campaign UCID candidate Feisal Ali Waraabe expressed doubt that the election would be free and fair.

Although Somaliland has yet to gain international recognition, delegations from the UK, the US, South Africa, Ethiopia and the European Union will observe the polls.

The Election Commission chairman has criticised the authorities for not handing over all the promised funds to supervise the polls.

He has also expressed concern about a hostile atmosphere in the eastern areas.

BBC's Robert Walker on Focus on Africa
"It is the beginning of democracy"

Somaliland votes on independence
31 May 01  |  Africa


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