Somaliland blocks social media as vote counting begins

Sergio Conner
November 14, 2017

Voting begun on Monday morning in the breakaway Somaliland in the third poll to elect the 5th president since 1991.

The contenders in today's elections are Abdirahman Abdullahi Cirro, former parliament speaker and now presidential candidate for the Wadany opposition party; Faisal Ali Waraabe, a veteran politician and also an opposition UCID; and ruling party Kulmiye candidate Musa Bihi Abdi, a former military colonel who served as former interior minister.

The presidential election is the third since Somalia's northern region made a decision to separate from the rest of the country in 1991. The region has had delayed elections in the past seven years which drew local and global concerns.

Incumbent Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo is not seeking re-election.

Proponents of the system say it will ensure a rig-free election in Somaliland and boost its chances of winning global recognition as an independent country.

Although Somaliland is not recognized as an independent country, 24 nations have sent observers to the election which is being jointly funded by the United States, Norway, and Denmark to the tune of $20million.

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Voter registration has been conducted, for the first time anywhere in the world, using iris-recognition technology.

The ban will go into effect after polls close at 6 pm (1500 GMT).

As polling station closed and officials counting the votes, the Electoral Commission has warned of spreading fake forecast about the election before the final result is formally announced in the days ahead.

Somaliland writer and activist Barkhad Dahir, said the election was crucial to proving the state's democratic credentials.

The vote comes as much of the rest of Somalia battles Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, who were blamed for the country's worst-ever terrorist attack - an October 14 truck-bombing in the federal capital, Mogadishu, that claimed more than 300 lives.

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

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