Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Somaliland Opposition Leader Rejects Election Outcome
LAGOS, 22 APRIL 2003--IN an about-face the leader of the Somaliland oppposition on Sunday rejected the results of a presidential poll in the breakaway republic, narrowly won by incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin, calling them "rigged." "I am the winner of the election. The people know that and my supporters are all convinced that they won the election," declared Ahmed Muhammad Silanyo, a candidate for the opposition Hisbiga Kulmiye (Solidarity Party), only a day after he had said he would accept and abide by the results. "How can I concede defeat while our party won, the election was rigged," Silanyo said, adding that his party's top body is holding discussions on what to do next. The Somaliland Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday declared Kahin of the Unity of Democrats (UDUB) Party the winner of Somaliland's first presidential vote since the country -- which is not recognized internationally -- seceded from the rest of Somalia 12 years ago.

Kahin squeezed through with a razor-thin margin of 80 votes, garnering 205,595 votes against 205,515 for Silanyo. Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID (Justice and Restoration) came in a distant third, polling less than one in seven of every vote cast. Silanyo claimed that police in the capital Hargeisa had arrested several opposition supporters after a peaceful demonstration. MORE

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