On the 13th of November, the Republic of Somaliland went to the polls to elect its fifth president in its third one person one vote Presidential Election. In this election Somaliland made history by becoming the first country that uses iris recognition biometric scanner for election voting system.
The incumbent president H.E Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Siilaanyo) has chosen to not seek and run for a second term as the constitution of Somaliland allows him to. And running were Faisal Ali Warabe of Ucid Party, a veteran politician who ran the presidency twice before in 2003 and 2010; Muse Behi Abdi of the ruling Kulmiye Party, a leading figure of the SNM army struggle that eventually resulted the reclamation of Somaliland’s independence; and Abdirahman Mohamed Abdilahi (Cirro) of Waddani Party, a long time diplomat and a former longest-serving speaker of the house.
A Tooth and Nail Contest
The three parties have run and contested in a very fierce, tooth and nail, campaign for 21 continues days on a scale which Somaliland has never seen. Mainstream Media, Websites and Social Media were used as a platform for campaigning. Furthermore, the three Presidential candidates debated not ones but twice to persuade as much citizens as possible to vote for them.
The whole process of officially running, campaigning and then voting has happened in a style that has won the attention of the democratic world; full of energy and very peaceful.
Before the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has officially announced the official outcome of the election, the opposition Waddani Party has complained irregularities in the electoral process and as a result riots has happened in Hargeisa and Burco but ended shortly. The NEC was quick to meet with the demands of Waddani and agreed to double check the certain voting districts concerned by Waddani Party and the whole matter was resolved, but as a result the announcement was delayed by the span of several days.
The Kulmiye Ruling Party was Declared the Winner of the Election
The NEC has announced tonight, on the 20th of November, the election outcome the whole nation was waiting for and declared Muse Behi Abdi and Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail (Zeylici) the winners and the President and Vice President elect of Somaliland respectively.
In a Press Conference held by the President-Elect Mr. Muse Behi Abdi, he said
“I am now responsible for all Somalilanders; those who have voted against me, for me and did not vote at all; alike.’ He continued and said ‘I am willing and ready to sit down with the opposition and settle their concerns and compliances down with them’.
Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed Abdilahi (Cirro), the Waddani party candidate and main challenger, also spoke in a Press Conference and said “I am conceding for nothing else but Somaliland’, he also said ‘I am not going to let my political ambition destroy my country and shed the blood of my people”. The other opposition candidate Mr. Faysal Cali Waraabe said that that he congratulated the President-Elect.
To accept defeat and concede peacefully without violence is indeed a continuation of a political and democratic culture in Somaliland. The current incumbent President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Siilanyo) accepted a defeat of 80 votes in the 2003 Presidential Election and popularly said that “He is not going to sit a chair that a blood has been shed for.’ In 2010 the incumbent was defeated and he peacefully conceded saying ‘Somaliland is not going to collapse in my hand.’
Who is the President-Elect Muse Behi Abdi ?
The President-Elect Muse Behi Abdi has done his Primary and Intermediate education in Hargeisa. He did his Secondary School education in Camuud, Borama. He was trained as a military officer in the 70s and 80s. He did his Military Air Force Pilot training in Russia and he has taken more expertise at a later day in USA. In 1985, he joined the armed struggle of the Somali National Movement (SNM) against the tyrannical government of Siad Barre. In the armed struggle, Behi was not only an active participant but also strong leader to reckon with at the tough times; some even go as far saying that his greatest achievement was his role in that struggle that later yielded the Somaliland Republic. After the declaration of independence Muse Behi has never left the country unlike many of his contemporaries. In 1993, he became the interior minister of Somaliland, his biggest achievement were his role of the public disarmament and the establishment of the Police force. In 2003, he joined the ruling Kulmiye Party and in 2008 he was elected to become the Deputy Chairman of the Party. And 2 years later he has replaced Siilanyo, who got elected to the presidency, to become the Party chairman and leader.
President-elect Muse Behi Abdi, has been described as a man of integrity and tenacity; Hard working and perseverant. He is described as a man who takes the time to listen the opinion of others; friends and opponents alike, but does not hesitate to strongly disagree and speak his mind. He is said to be very patient but doesn’t allow any wrongdoing. His supporters adamantly say that he is a strong leader and his opponents argue that he is sometimes too harsh. But, perhaps, that strength is one of the reasons he got elected; at a time that corruption become institutionalized many people felt that the need for a strong leader is absolute.
Furthermore, Behi, unlike the other candidates, had a good knowledge of the Somali culture and the indigenous ways; something that gave him the competitive upper hand in this election.
What are Some of the Areas the New Government will Focus?
Some of the most important things Kulmiye Party campaigned to do were: Job creation and more political and governance participation for youth; setting a new strategy for Somaliland’s quest of international recognition, to create an open economic system that encourages production to reduce poverty; to modernize and improve the Healthcare, Education, and Water Supply systems; to set an effective avoidance strategy of natural disasters like recurring droughts; and the rule of law, justice and equality among all the citizens of Somaliland.
The People of Somaliland have Spoken Loud and Clear
This election was yet another message sent by the people of Somaliland and those who claim support Democracy and people’s right to self-determination. They once more said loud and clear that they have achieved much more than many African countries, and certainly much more than Somalia with all the support it has received from the international community, and that they have every right to get the international recognition they deserve.
For the better, as Kulmiye’s motto go ‘A tomorrow better than to day’, or for the worse, the one thing that’s without a doubt that this is a new dawn for Somaliland.