Somalia: Somaliland - the Little Country That Could - If Only the World Would Let It

Voting in Somaliland

Somalilanders go to the polls to boost their claim for independence.

The self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland conducts its first parliamentary elections in 16 years on Monday, 31 May, hoping that by demonstrating its ability to hold a competent, democratic and peaceful poll it will boost its case for international recognition.

Campaign ads and military security in Berbera, Somaliland. (Photo: Richard Harper)

Though officially recognised only by Taiwan, Somaliland has been a de facto independent, peaceful and relatively democratic state for 30 years, after breaking away from tumultuous Somalia to the southeast in 1991. It held its first parliamentary elections in 2005 and was supposed to have held further elections every five years since. But for many reasons -- not least members of Parliament wanting to hang on to office -- it has not held one since. With a young minimum voting age of just 15, this means many Somalilanders voting on Monday would not yet have been alive for the last election.

After 16 years, not a single sitting MP is contesting Monday's election, due to death, retirement or just a waning of interest. A total of 246 fresh candidates from all three of the country's parties will contest...

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