HARGEISA – The President of the Republic of Somaliland H.E Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, received a high-level delegation from EU member states, at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
The delegation, headed by Veronique Lorenzo, the EU’s representative to Somalia and Somaliland, consisted of ambassadors from France, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and the UK.
According to Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire, who spoke to reporters after the meeting, the delegation met with President Silanyo and senior cabinet ministers to discuss the upcoming presidential election on November 13th.
“The main purpose for their meeting with the President was to discuss the upcoming elections. Both sides agreed that is important to ensure the integrity of the election process and to hold free and fair elections,” Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire told reporters after the meeting.
Lorenzo, speaking on behalf of the delegation, told reporters that the EU is ‘still committed’ to the people of Somaliland and content with the current preparations.
“We’ve come here today to express our continued commitment to the people of Somaliland, we’ve had an excellent meeting with President Silanyo, and the message is extremely positive, given the state of the preparations of the elections,” Lorenzo said.
Mette Knudsen, Denmark’s ambassador to Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, Eritrea and the Seychelles, concurred with Lorenzo during the press conference, and also expressed her happiness with the current preparations for the elections.
“I am entirely in agreement with what the EU ambassador has been saying, it’s very good to be back here in Hargeisa, because what we see now is that the democratic process in Somaliland is moving back on track,” Knudsen said.
“The presidential election is one of the first steps back to the good tradition that Somaliland has when it comes to democracy and we look forward also to the next steps, as parliamentary and local elections will follow,” Knudsen added.
“I think its really important that now the citizens of Somaliland will again have an opportunity to decide who should lead them,” Knudsen said.
Earlier this year, Somaliland’s international partners stated that they have decided to withdraw funding for Somaliland’s presidential election, after it was postponed by several months due to last year’s ravaging drought.
Knudsen and other ambassadors, who were present at Wednesday’s meeting, were extremely disappointed about the election delay earlier this year and didn’t believe that the drought was a valid excuse to delay elections.
— Mette Knudsen (@Metknu) January 26, 2017
President Silanyo announced in March 2017 that his government would fund 90% of the costs associated with the election, to make up for the International’s Community contributions.
Since the announcement, Somaliland’s Finance Ministry has transferred numerous payments to the NEC (National Electoral Commission) in order to fulfill the pledge. The last payment was transferred in July 2017.
The official campaign launch for the presidential election is expected to take place within the coming weeks.