MOGADISHU. — Security was tight as Somalilanders in the semi-autonomous region of Somalia lined up yesterday to elect their new president in polls delayed by severe drought and political disagreements. The northern region’s military chiefs promised to ensure that the election which began at 7 am would run smoothly without any disruption from terrorists and pledged to work with whoever emerges the winner.
“We will work with every candidate that wins. Somaliland forces are in every area, at the borders and at all polling stations across the country to secure and make sure the election is peaceful,” said Somaliland Chief of Army Nuh Ismail Tani. He added that all forces were already prepared to secure the safety of the voters to ensure peace prevails in Somaliland during the presidential election.
704, 089 eligible voters were expected to cast their ballots at 1,642 polling stations in the 21 constituencies across the six regions of the country. Observers said the election is significant because it is the first time an incumbent is not contesting, giving voters in the former British protectorate a real choice between the three candidates. Tani called on Somalilanders to maintain peace to ensure the election runs smoothly. The results of the presidential election are not expected until Friday. Residents told Xinhua that there is heavy security presence in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland and in all polling stations, saying the forces are also guiding voters who are blind, pregnant or weak on to cast their ballot.
“The security situation is okay. So far there are no insecurity incidents which have been reported. There are Special Forces everywhere maintaining security. There has also been public awareness by politicians, community leaders and presidential candidates on the importance of maintaining peace,” said a resident who refused to be named. – Xinhua/Africa News/HR