Thursday, April 17, 2003

Somaliland poll 'transparent'
HARGEISA, 17 APRIL 2003 - South Africa's team monitoring Monday's presidential elections in northwest Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland has said the voting process was peaceful, orderly and transparent.

"Although technical difficulties were experienced by some polling stations visited, generally polling stations opened on time and voting got underway as planned and voters were enthusiastic and came out in large numbers, especially women, to cast their ballots," the team said.

"Overall, the voting process was peaceful, orderly and transparent," the team said in a statement released here on Wednesday.

"The counting of ballot papers was also rigorously transparent," the South African observers noted in their statement.

"We believe democracy was served by this exercise," the statement quoted mission leader Shannon Field as saying.

The statement added that the delegation was proud to have been associated with the people of Somaliland at "this historical juncture".

"We wish the people of Somaliland the very best for their future and we are assured that they will build on their stability and democracy," the statement concluded.

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