Somali Leaders Converge as Somaliland Celebrates 30 years of Self-Rule

Ruling party candidate Muse Bihi Abdi speaks to the media after casting his vote in the presidential election in Hargeisa, in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland, in Somalia Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. More than 700,000 registered voters across Somaliland are expected to cast their votes Monday to elect their fifth president, as the ruling party faces a strong challenge from opposition candidates. (AP Photo/Barkhad Kaariye)

Somali leaders are converging on Saturday in Mogadishu to deliberate on the electoral calendar. Initially scheduled for Thursday by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, the National Consultative Forum comprising the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and the Federal Member States (FMS) was pushed to Saturday after some leaders failed to arrive on time.  

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on April 27 tasked Roble with leading talks on the electoral process. Representatives began arriving in the capital on Wednesday, while some arrived on Thursday and others are expected on Friday after confirming that they would attend the election talks.

First on arrival, President of Galmudug State, Ahmed Kariye Qoorqoor, arrived at the Aden Abdulle International Airport on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, Southwest State President Abdulaziz Hassan Laftagareen and Jubbaland’s Ahmed Mohamed Madobe arrived in Mogadishu.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble

Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni and Hirshabelle President Ali Hussein Gudlawe arrived the capital on Friday.

Earlier, PM Roble said he anticipates that the meeting would be a success and culminate in “leading the country to a mutually agreed, transparent election.”

Meanwhile, self-declared Republic of Somaliland marked 30 years of self-rule with festivities in the capital Hargeisa. Somaliland announced independence from the rest of Somalia on May 18, 1991.

The crucial event occurred at Burao town five months after the fall of the dictatorial regime of General Mohamed Siad Barre in Mogadishu in January 1991.

Since then, the state had held a number of presidential polls that saw Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, Dahir Rayale Kahin and Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo rise to power. Somaliland’s current President is Muse Bihi Abdi.   

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo

Popular music was the most visible, especially at the city centre’s independence square, Hargesia. Though not recognised by any country in the world, Somaliland hosts a number of diplomatic offices and it keeps representatives in a large number of countries in and out of Africa, especially in neighbouring Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, despite having no formal diplomatic status under the Vienna Convention.

The ‘independent state’ has been largely stable over the past three decades and established important institutions including a bicameral parliament (House of Representatives known as Golaha Wakiilada and the Chamber of Elders known as Guurti), a central bank, local currency, international passport, national identity and a defence force.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi (AP Photo/Barkhad Kaariye)

The state’s name Somaliland originates from the former British Somaliland Protectorate that was ruled by Britain until the territory gained independence on June 26, 1960. It merged with the former Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960.

Somalia was to have an election to choose legislators for both its Upper and Lower Houses of its parliament in November and December 2020, but the process was deferred due to disagreements. It also failed to hold presidential elections in February this year.

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