Democracy Triumphs with Somaliland’s Second Peaceful Election

This summer, Somaliland’s presidential election marked a rare, peaceful democratic transition in the greater Horn of Africa.

On June 26, the lead opposition Kulmiye party (Kulmiye means “bringing together”) received almost half of the more than 538,000 votes cast, while the ruling UDUB party (United People’s Democratic Party) won 33 percent of votes. Another opposition party, UCID (the Justice and Welfare party), received 17 percent of the votes.

With the election, Kulmiye party leader and veteran politician Ahmed Silanyo was declared the new president of Somaliland, with then-President Dahir Kahin Riyale issuing a statement assuring the people of Somaliland that he would respect the election outcome.

More than 500,000 Somalilanders cast their ballots. Some voters waited in line to vote at least five hours before polls opened.

USAID contributed over $700,000 to support the Somaliland presidential election process.

Eight hundred domestic observers monitored the process throughout Somaliland’s six regions. Political party watchers, trained by USAID implementing partner, the International Republican Institute, were deployed to most of the 1,782 polling stations, observing election day processes and ballot counting. Many poll workers were university students as local universities partnered with Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission to train students to administer the polls per Somaliland’s election law.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991. The autonomous breakaway area in northwest Somalia is not recognized internationally, although it held its first peaceful presidential election in 2002. After postponing the most recent election for almost two years, election watchers say that Somaliland has enhanced its democratic reputation by pulling off a second peaceful presidential vote.

Source: Office USAID report