April 28, 2010 / 3:12 PM / 9 years ago

Election officials back June poll in Somaliland

HARGEISA (Reuters) - Somaliland’s presidential elections slated for June were given a stamp of approval on Wednesday by the breakaway enclave’s election commission.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) said it had completed a voter registration list that corrected many errors, which had been the reason given by clan elders for repeatedly extending the term of President Dahir Riyale Kahin.

“We have a sound voter registration list with which we can hold a presidential election in June 2010,” NEC spokesman Mohamed Ahmed Hirsi Ghelle told a news conference. “All correction of errors in the voter system has been completed.”

Ghelle said the list had 1.1 million people on it and was acceptable for the long-awaited election. He said the list would be refined again in May.

Somaliland — which has sought international recognition as sovereign state — is governed by the opposition-led House of Representatives, which is elected by the people, and an upper house comprised of senior clan elders.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the rest of Somalia, which has been mired in conflict since 1991. But repeated delays to the presidential poll have worried rights groups and donors, as well as angering the opposition.

Analysts fear extended political strife in Somaliland could be exploited by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group which controls much of central and southern Somalia.

In September, clan elders voted to extend the president’s term on condition that a voter list be finalised. It was the third time since April 2008 his mandate had been prolonged.

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