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Somalia's Int'l partners reject extension of Somaliland parliament's term

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somaliland authorities have been asked to stick to previous agreements with the international community which recommended holding timely elections, Garowe Online reports.

In a statement on Wednesday, Somalia's international partners have expressed concerns about the continued postponement of elections.

According to the team under European Union, in July both parties "agreed to hold the elections as soon as they will be politically and technically possible”.

But with the current impasse, the statement says, the government undermines commitments to the detriment of Somaliland’s democratic credentials and international standing.

European Union, United Nations, Germany, Belgium, United States, United Kingdom are among the groups which signed Wednesday's statement.

On democracy, the team said, "we are deeply concerned by instances of seemingly arbitrary detentions and by increased restrictions on freedom of expression".

Last week, Waddani party officials Khadar Hussein Abdi, Barkhad Jama Batun were arrested by authorities when the opposition leader Abdirahman Abdullahi'Irro' called for protests.

With the party calling for credible polls, the international community has joined the bandwagon, expressing concerns following the decision by House of Elders to extend the term.

"We are especially concerned by the decision of the Guurti to extend both House of Representatives and Guurti's mandates to January 2022 and January 2023 respectively," read the statement.

Early this week, parliament extended the term, with opposition term accusing President Muse Bihi Abdi of being reluctant to hold polls.

This is the fifth time the house was extending the term. Somaliland last went to polls in 2005. Since then, parliament has been postponing polls due to unpreparedness.

The international community now says, "both parliamentary and local elections to take place without any further delay, well before the end of the calendar year 2020".

As a solid foundation of such a process, the statement read, there needs to be an Electoral Commission that inspires broad trust from all political actors as well as from the citizens of Somaliland.

Part of the grievances of opposition is biased electoral commission which Irro claimed that it constitutes Bihi's loyalists.

Although the commission was sworn in early this week, the opposition team withdrew membership, accusing the government of dishonesty.

On Tuesday, Somaliland freed the two opposition leaders who had been arrested at Hargeisa and subsequently detained in Mandera.

“The president accepted our plea to release the officials of Waddani party and ordered the security officials to release them,” Ahmed Farah, the leader of the team said.

Irro has vowed to continue pushing for a credible team. The entry of the international community could force the government to give in.

Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1992 but despite the autonomy, the United Nations is yet to recognize it as a sovereign state.


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