A key official in the government of Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland announced Monday that he has quit mediation efforts to help resolve an election dispute between the Somaliland president and opposition party leaders.
Abdirahman « Irro » Mohamed, Speaker of the House of Representatives, told parliament in the capital Hargeisa that both sides are « unwilling to compromise » to help end the election crisis.
The separatist republic’s two official opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID, have publicly announced that they will not recognize the presidency of Mr. Dahir Riyale following May 15, when his constitutional term in office ends.
But President Riyale has maintained that he is the President of Somaliland for another year, following a decision last month by the Guurti, parliament’s upper house, extending his term until April 2009.
According to Speaker Abdirahman Irro, the Somaliland leader has refused to meet face-to-face with opposition leaders until Kulmiye and UCID publicly recognize his presidency.
Describing the damage the election dispute has caused, Mr. Irro told parliament: « The countries intending to donate US$8 million to help finance voter registration have decided to withhold [the donation] until the election crisis is resolved. »
Somaliland’s leader has justified the one-year term extension on grounds that the House of Guurti has the constitutional authority to grant him such an extension, and secondly, that the local government and the presidential elections be held six months apart.
The local elections, originally scheduled to be held in December 2007, were rescheduled for October this year by the Guurti decision.
Somaliland, composed of northwestern regions in Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991.
The breakaway region has a government and has enjoyed relative peace since, but one insider pointed out to Garowe Online that the ongoing election crisis is one of the most serious political disputes in Somaliland in the past decade.