Somaliland Elections: 4 killed after militia raid polling station
Hargeisa (Alshahid) — At least four people were killed and one injured in skirmishes after militia supporting the neighbouring Puntland raided a voting station in a disputed area and seized several ballot boxes, the Somaliland Election officials said.
Officials said the disturbance forced them to close 34 stations early in that area.
“There was no voting in 34 stations in Buhoodle and Sool regions,” said Essa Yusuf Mohammed, National Electoral Commission (NEC) chairman.
The two regions, Buhoodle and Sool, are claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland.
Several days before the Somaliland elections, Al Shabab’s top leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr, urged Muslims in Somalia to reject “the Devil’s principles” of elective democracy.
AlShabab hit Somaliland and the other semi-autonomous Puntland region with synchronised suicide blasts that killed at least 24 people in October 2008.
Despite the threat of violence, most Somaliland citizens are united in their desire for recognition as a separate state.
“I call on them to respect the basic human rights of the people of Somaliland. We have a map and I hope that we will realize this (recognition) within one year,” said Feisal Ali Warabe, presidential candidate for the opposition Justice and Welfare party.
Three men are vying to become president of the internationally unrecognized region, a haven of relative peace in northwest Somalia.
Somaliland has its own security and police forces, justice system and currency, but is not recognized by any other state.
The International Republican Institute, a U.S. observer group, said Sunday their observers found few voting irregularities in the region.