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Supreme Court to Resume Hearings on Election Results Today
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Hargeisa (SL Times) - The Somaliland Supreme Court will resume its hearings this morning on the disputed results of the presidential election held on April 14, 2003.

The National Electoral Commission announced on April 19 that UDUB's incumbent president Dahir Rayale Kahin won the poll by merely 80 votes more than his closest rival KULMIYE party candidate Ahmed Mohamed Sillanyo. KULMIYE had rejected the results, claiming instead that it was actually ahead of UDUB by 76 votes. Both KULMIYE and UDUB filed petitions before the Supreme Court against the results.

After receiving clarifications it sought from the NEC, the Supreme Court sat on Thursday for the first time to consider the dispute. Despite being declared winner of the presidential election, UDUB has surprisingly decided to challenge the polling results in court. Its complaints mainly revolved around a number of ballot boxes that had been cancelled by the NEC due to alleged irregularities. UDUB has requested re-inspection of polling documents and recounting of these boxes.

In its report to the Court, the NEC insisted that UDUB's complaints about the cancellations were illegitimate and groundless. The NEC also corrected a claim by UDUB that KULMIYE was given an extra 144 votes. It said the figure in question has been corrected by the respective regional commissioners as being 142 only and submitted to the Court accordingly, after the necessary amendment has been made in the total preliminary results.The NEC also pointed out that UDUB received by mistake 7 votes in Gar-Adag and 27 votes in Borama. The NEC report to the court dismissed most of KULMIYE's petitions including the 133 votes it previously claimed to have been erroneously deducted from its Buroa results.

More importantly however, the NEC did admit that Balli-Alanle box no. 627 has never been counted due to insecurity. It reported that voting at Balle-Alanle went on smoothly until a group of UDUB activists arrived at the polling station to disrupt the balloting.

The box, according to the NEC, was then taken by the polling staff to Qorlugud and then to Buroa, where it was left without being counted. The NEC said it became aware of this box only a day after the preliminary election results had been announced.

Balli-Alanle has been a KULMIYE stronghold. The NEC made no objections to KULMIYE's request for counting the ballots cast in this box, adding that it was up to the court to decide.

In the event the court grants an order for counting the Balli-Alanle box, most of the estimated 700 ballots cast in that polling station are expected to be won by KULMIYE. In such case it could give KULMIYE the necessary votes for beating UDUB. Local political analysts, however, predict the court's decision on the case will be as close as the election results themselves.

The NEC has been angered by an accusation repeatedly mentioned in UDUB's petition that the election was a fake exercise. The NEC described the accusation as surprising and unfounded. It requested the court to delete it from the minutes of the transcript. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a verdict by Sunday. The incumbent government's term in office expires on May 15, 2003.

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