Somaliland: Election Postponement Suggested
A senior government official in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland has suggested on Thursday [19 February 2009] that the upcoming presidential election might be postponed, Radio Garowe reports.
Mr. Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, Somaliland's vice president, told local press that the voter-registration process might continue through March 29 , when Somaliland is scheduled to hold a competitive democratic election to elect the next president.
"The ruling party [UDUB] wants to hold the election on time, but we [also] want the voter-registration process to be fair," Somaliland's vice president said.
It is the first admittance by a top official in Somaliland of possibly postponing the March 29  election, which is seen as crucial to the separatist republic's democratic process.
In 2008, Somaliland's upper house of parliament – the House of Guurti – approved a one-year term extension for incumbent President Dahir Riyale's government, whose five-year constitutional mandate expired in May 2008.
Mr. Yasin said that Somaliland's three official parties – UDUB, UC ID and Kulmiye –agreed to "convene together" if the election is postponed and to reschedule. He indicated that such an agreement was signed when the three parties formalized President Riyale's term extension last year.
Another official, Somaliland Election Commission chairman Jama Mohamud "Sweden,"old the BBC Somali Service that the electronic machine that sorts out error names from the voter-registration list "will begin work soon."
He avoided a direct question about changing the election date, but invited political parties and international donors to inspect the electronic machine and the process.
Opposition parties have accused the Somaliland administration of wanting to purposefully delay the election, a charge denied by Somaliland's government officials.
Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.