Tuesday, April 08, 2003

No elections in disputed regions, Puntland says
NAIROBI, 8 APRIL 2003 (IRIN) - There will be no elections in the disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag when Somaliland holds its presidential polls next week, according to the neighbouring self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.

Both the self-declared republic of Somaliland and Puntland claim the regions, which geographically fall within the borders of the former British Somaliland, but where the majority of the clans inhabiting them are associated with Puntland.

"There is no way that elections will take place in Sool and Sanaag," Isma'il Warsame, the chief of cabinet of Puntland's president, Col Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad, told IRIN. He said the people of the area did not want the elections, so "their wishes must be respected".

"The people of these regions have decided that their destiny is with Puntland and not with Somaliland," he added. He warned that any attempt to bring election materials to Sool and Sanaag would be regarded as "a hostile act against Puntland".

Garad Abdullahi Ali Id, a Sanaag traditional elder told IRIN that the people of Sool and Sanaag were Harti - a Darod subclan - and “therefore are part of Puntland, and do not want to be a part of the so-called Somaliland”.

"We do not want to have anything to do with this election," he said. "It is time they [the Somaliland authorities] faced realities and realised we do not want any part of their Somaliland."

However, Somaliland Information Minister Abdillahi Muhammad Du'ale told IRIN that elections would take place as planned in the two regions and that ballot boxes would be sent there.

"Sool and Sanaag have been part and parcel of Somaliland and will remain so," he stressed.

Somaliland's presidential elections are due on 14 April.


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