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Somaliland suspends voter registrations amid droughts

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 HARGEISA (HOL) – The breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somaliland has announced it suspended the ongoing voter registrations ahead of  presidential elections in response to calls to reach thousands of people in regions hard hit by droughts.

However, opposition parties have immediately protested against the decision by president Ahmed Silanyo who said that the suspension was made with the consideration of calls for the government to mobile its resources to urgently assist the drought-stricken victims, a decision opposition officials protested as ‘unacceptable.

According to the United Nations Office for humanitarian coordination, the droughts that largely hit Puntland and Somaliland had compounded an already challenging humanitarian situation, affecting an estimated number of 385,000 people who face acute food insecurity.

“Considering the urgent humanitarian crisis we are facing, it’s a national duty for us to take an urgent step to assist people affected
by droughts.” Mr. Silanyo said during an emergency meeting with the government officials at the presidential palace on Monday.

The suspension in voter registrations prompted protest by the opposition leaders who accused the government using the droughts issue as pretext to buy time to influence the independent electoral commission.

The development comes as the enclave is heading into the final months of an election season which would see the ruling party contesting against coalition of opposition parties.

Opposition parties have earlier endorsed the voter registration process and urged the electoral commission to ensure transparency in order for the upcoming election to be held on schedule.

Togdheer region was earlier declared as the launching point for the voter registration process, despite challenges facing the remote region, of the areas hard hit by droughts and water shortages.

Somaliland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia has declared a unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991; however, no country has so far recognized it as an independent state.



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