HARGEISA – It has now been a week since voters across Somaliland went to the polls on November 13th to elect the next and fifth President of the Republic of Somaliland.
Less than 24 hours after the polls closed, Somaliland’s main opposition party complained of election irregularities, which sparked a series of events that have forced the NEC to delay the announcement of the election results.
Within the past couple of days, all attention has been centred on Somaliland’s main opposition party, Waddani, and their claims of electoral fraud, after violent pro-Waddani riots on Thursday resulted in the loss of lives and dozens of injuries in Hargeisa and Burao.
Below, is a timeline of the most significant election news following the riots, leading up to the evening of November 19th.
Friday, November 17th: Irro agrees to restart talks with the NEC after Thursday’s riots
On the evening of November 17th, Waddani’s presidential candidate, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro, and senior Waddani officials, held a press conference announcing that they have agreed to restart talks with the NEC, in response to growing concerns over Thursday night’s riots.
According to Irro and the officials, the NEC agreed to take another look into Waddani’s claims of irregularities in the electoral districts of Gabiley and Hargeisa.
The announcement was hailed many citizens as a positive step forward, as many in Somaliland and abroad were fearing that nation was descending into chaos following the riots.
Saturday, November 18th: Waddani admits that the ‘forged ballot book’ actually belongs to the NEC
On the morning of November 18th, Irro and NEC Chairman, Abdikadir Iman, held a joint press conference updating the public on the talks between the two sides.
In the press conference, Irro confirmed that the ‘forged ballot book’ that senior Waddani officials accused Kulmiye of printing to use during the election – actually belongs to the NEC.
According to several local news reports, the ballot book was stolen by a Waddani election observer that was working at a polling station in the electoral district of Berbera.
According to trusted sources, Somaliland’s police force are currently searching for the suspect and are conducting an investigation into the theft of the ballot book and whether the observer was acting under orders he received or whether he committed the crime on his own.
The revelation on the origins of the ballot book put an end to Waddani’s claims of electoral fraud, and left many wondering how the book ended up in the hands of the senior Waddani officials who accused Kulmiye of fraud on Thursday.
Sunday, November 19th: Waddani walks out on a meeting with the NEC, returns hours later after hearing that the election results will be announced
In an interview with BBC’s Somali Service on Sunday, Irro confirmed that Waddani asked the NEC to “recount the ballot boxes in the electoral districts of Hargeisa and Gabiley and all of Somaliland’s six electoral regions” and that they were currently “waiting for a response”.
Irro also told the BBC that “election results cannot be announced by the NEC until their requests are fulfilled”.
Late Sunday evening, several hours after Irro’s BBC interview, senior Waddani officials walked out of a meeting with NEC, after the NEC denied their request to recount every ballot box nationwide.
According to trusted sources, the NEC accepted Waddani’s request of recounting ballot boxes in Hargeisa – but denied their other requests, specifically the request to conduct a nationwide recount.
Around 11:00 PM, word starting circulating that the NEC will be a holding press conference at 12 AM to announce the presidential election results at 12:00 AM.
According to trusted sources, the NEC decided to announce the results after Waddani refused to accept the NEC’s decision on their requests.
The NEC reportedly entered talks with Waddani to avoid more riots, and to respect the electoral code of conduct that was signed earlier this year between the NEC and the three political parties. The code of conduct states that each party must agree on the results before the NEC announces the winner.
However, the 2001 Presidential & Local Elections Law (Article 64), gives the Chairman of the NEC the power to deliver a verdict on disputes over votes, and the full authority to announce the provisional election results – even if a party doesn’t agree on the results.
According to trusted sources, senior Waddani officials, led by Abdirahman Irro, returned to NEC headquarters before 12 AM, and agreed to accept the initial NEC offer to solely recount the votes in Hargeisa.
As a result of Waddani’s return to the table, the announcement of the results has reportedly been postponed to Monday afternoon (November 20th).
This is a developing story. Please check back at The National for more.