Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Taking the Tiger by the Tail: Somaliland's Forthcoming Elections
Rakiya A. Omaar
HARGEISA, 9 APRIL 2003--I am looking forward to 14 April, in common with most people living in Somaliland. It will be the first time ever that I vote in my homeland. Having missed the December municipal elections, the prospect of taking part in a free and fair election to choose the next president of Somaliland will not only be a new experience, but given what it has taken us to get here, a deeply rewarding one. The people whose job it is to ensure that the elections fulfil our expectations are the six men and one woman who make up the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Their task is not an enviable one, given the unique circumstances of Somaliland.

The last presidential elections took place so long ago, in 1968, that more than 60% of the electorate has no memory of them. And for those who do remember, they recall the violence, the political tensions and the deeply flawed nature of the exercise which paved the way for a military coup d'├ętat. Everyone agrees that this time, we must all play by different rules. But with everything so new, we are all learning, including, and especially, the Commission itself.


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