Officials began counting votes in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland after residents today took part in its third presidential poll, hoping to bolster its democratic credentials and strengthen the case for independence from troubled Somalia. The northern territory, which is more tribally homogenous and stable than the rest of Somalia, broke away in 1991 and has been striving to attain international recognition ever since, without success. As vote tallying began shortly after 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), a social media blackout was imposed. The national electoral commission said the move was necessary to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over the outcome.
“Most polling stations are closed now and the internet connection is interrupted as per the instruction of the electoral commission. You cannot use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in all the regions of Somaliland,” said security official Mohamed Dahir. No incidents of violence, unrest or disruption were reported during the day’s voting.
Three candidates are vying for the state’s top office: seasoned politicians Muse Bihi of the ruling Kulmiye party and opposition leaders Abdirahman Iro and Faysal Ali Warabe, who was defeated in a previous election in 2010. Incumbent Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo is not seeking re-election.