Somaliland: Scuffles Mar Opening of Parliament
Hundreds of secondary school students took to the streets in Hargeysa, Somaliland's capital, protesting the alleged killing by police of a student from Farah Omar Secondary School in the city on Monday night.
They threw stones at the police, who responded by firing into the air to disperse the protesters. A number of students were arrested.
Despite the disturbances, the newly elected MPs took their oath of office. Somaliland's President Dahir Rayalle Kahin chose Mohamed Abid Dheere, the oldest member from the ruling party, to chair the opening session.
A skirmish broke out when the 48 members of the opposition objected to the temporary chairman's decision to adjourn the session after the opening ceremony.
Armed policemen stormed parliament, turned off the microphones and ordered everyone to leave. A brawl ensued, with MPs hurling chairs at each other and at the police and exchanging blows.
Policemen whipped reporters and barred them from taking pictures or TV footage of the drama. Some cameras were damaged. Two reporters were briefly detained, and police have been accused of confiscating some equipment.
Opposition members met afterwards and elected Abdirahman Mohamed from the Justice and Welfare party as their speaker and Abdiaziz Samalle and Bashe Mohamed from Kulmiye (Solidarity) party as the first and second deputy speakers respectively.
"The minimum number required in the house for the election of the speaker is 42. We (the opposition) were 48 and conducted the election legally. I welcome our colleagues from the ruling party to join in carrying out our business in parliament, and I will perform my duties according to the law," said the newly elected speaker.
The temporary chairman of parliament, however, said no legitimate elections had been held.
"There was no election. What happened today was null and void and illegal. The election of the speaker will be conducted on Saturday as I suggested," said Dheere.
"I adjourned the election because the atmosphere today was not good. Students were rioting near the parliament. I believe the riots were planned by the opposition, and tension in Hargeysa was high," he claimed.
Somaliland voters went to the polls on 29 September to elect the 82 members of the region's parliament.
The territory in northwestern Somalia declared its unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, following the collapse of the administration of former President Siyad Barre.
It has, however, not been internationally recognised as a sovereign state.