Somalia: Muse Bihi to defend presidency in Somaliland

Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland speaks during a news conference on October 10, 2018. Picture taken October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

HARGEISA, Somalia - The president of the breakaway region of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi has announced plans to defend his seat, days after announcing an official date for elections, which would be delayed for two years despite dissatisfaction with members of the opposition who accuse him of dictatorship.

On Monday, Somaliland's ruling party Kulmiye elected Mohamed Kahin, the Minister of Interior, as the new chairperson, replacing President Muse Bihi Abdi. The move, insiders say, will give Bihi humble time to defend his seat, amid disapproval from members of the public.

During the party convention in the capital Hargeisa, delegates picked Kahin to lead the party as it prepares for elections next year. Bihi was however retained as the party’s flag bearer in the December 2024 elections, which were delayed for two years contrary to the constitution of the breakaway region.

For a long time, Kahin, one of the founding politicians of the breakaway region, has been touted as Bihi's successor. In his speech, Bihi described Kahin as a "competent leader" who would "steer the party to new heights". He also noted that the changes would further pave the way for fresh leadership.

The delegates also elected Mohamud Hassan Saajin as the vice chairman of the party. Bihi’s term in office was set to lapse in November this year but the House of Elders [Guurti] voted to add him two more years in office last October.

Besides internal political wrangles, the region is grappling with insecurity challenges within the Sool and Sanag regions, following an outbreak of war in Las Anod city. The clashes between SSC-Khatumo forces and the regional army have left more than 200 people dead and several others injured.

President Muse Bihi Abdi has been accused of mismanagement of the internal affairs of Somaliland, with some leaders calling for his removal. During parliamentary elections in 2021, Kulmiye lost to Wadani and UCID parties which garnered 52 of the possible 82 parliamentary seats.


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