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Riyale No Longer President After 15 May
Hargeysa, Somaliland, April 12, 2008 (SL Times) – Somaliland’s two main opposition political parties have reiterated that they will not recognize Dahir Riyale Kahin as the country’s president after his official term in office expires on May 15, 2008.
President Riyale was elected on April 14, 2003 for a term of 5 years with effect from the day of his inauguration on May 16, 2003.
On Thursday however, Riyale was given a controversial extension of his tenure for one year by the Guurti (upper house of parliament).
The Guurti’s decision came in less than 24 hours after the three political parties UCID, KULMIYE and UDUB agreed on a new time frame for holding the municipal and presidential elections. The agreement which was reached in the presence of the country’s National Electoral Commission, had set October 6, 2008 for local council elections and December 31, 2008 for the presidential election.
Originally the elections were supposed to be held on July 1, 2008 and August 31, 2008 but then had to be postponed to allow time for the completion of a mandatory voter registration process by the NEC.
While some senior UDUB officials were negotiating with party chiefs of UCID and KULMIYE, president Riyale has been conspiring with the Guurti to get an extension.
In 2006 Riyale gave Guurti leaders the green light to extend their own term of office for a further 4 years.
On Thursday it was the turn of the Guurti or rather its 25 dinosaurs to return the favor to Riyale. They approved to extend his term in office to May 6, 2009, saying that they had to do so for security reasons.
Actually article 83(5) of the Somaliland constitution would have allowed for the extension of the president’s tenure in office only if the security situation in the country was so severe to the extent of making it impossible to hold the presidential election before May 15, 2008.
By invoking security considerations as a justification for its decision, the Guurti didn’t convince anybody.
In a joint statement Thursday the Opposition parties of KULMIYE and UCID described the extension as illegal and called for the formation of a caretaker government to take the country to elections within months.
A day earlier a time-bomb exploded in one of the offices at the Guurti headquarters.
It was the third explosion to hit Hargeysa in the last 2 weeks.
Interior minister Abdillahi Ismail Erro accused the KULMIYE opposition party of being behind the explosion at the Guurti.
The minister failed to substantiate the charges with evidence. KULMIYE denied the accusation.
Nobody was hurt in the explosion but 6 people were arrested in connection with the incident.
A woman called Kalthum Mohamed Farah who worked as cleaner at the Parliament headquarters was among those detained.
Kalthum M. Farah claimed that she was beaten by police men after her arrest on Thursday.
The extension of Riyale’s term in office until May 2009, puts Wednesday’s agreement between the 3 political in total disarray. The decision has violated the integrity and independence of the NEC, usurping its role as the only body mandated to fix time frame for elections.
In the meantime Somaliland has entered a new period of political uncertainty that if left to drag on for long may ultimately lead to the emergence of factionalism and disintegration of Somaliland as a polity.
Source: Somaliland Times