Last week, the voters of the Republic of Somaliland went to the polls, to elect new President. A preliminary count has indicated that candidate Abdirahman Irro, former Speaker, losing the election by a wide margin, especially in Hargiesa, nation’s capital and Gabiley area, the stronghold of candidate Muse Bihi Abdi.
To pre-empt the imminent defeat, Irro and his political hackers of the Wadani party have decided to cast doubt the integrity, and the manner the election was conducted by the Somaliland electoral commission (NEC). Even alleging Somaliland election was being rigged; although, on November election, to combat fraud, first ever in the world, iris recognition technology has been deployed for the voter registration.
Last Thursday, Wadani party representatives held a hastily arranged press conference, where they presented a batch of paper ballots belonging to NEC. The batch actually was stolen from one of the polling stations in Sahel region, according to the local media.
Did Irro or Wadani party representative know the batch of ballot papers was stolen?
Wadani party did not explain how and when they receive the stolen ballot papers. As far as I know, stealing or receiving stolen ballot papers to taint the integrity of an election is a serious crime. I want know why the Criminal investigation Unit of the Somaliland police or Attorney General Office not opening an investigation on the stolen ballot paper?
During the conference, Dr Mohamed Yasiin Hassan, a Senior Irro campaign adviser, alleged that the NEC fraudulently let those ballots to be counted for candidate Muse Bihi, especially in Hargiesa and Gabiley area. And then he added, from now on, “Wadani has decided to suspend working relationship with the NEC.”
The following evening, candidate Irro also said, “We are only accepting the result of free and fair election…”
Right after his statement, a mob of Irro supporters went into riots, looting and destroying properties in Burao and Hargeisa. So far, three people died and scores of police officers and civilians were injured, and several businesses were destroyed, including Sagal Printing, according Somaliland news websites.
For what reason those people died, just Irro to be a President?
Irro is a Sore loser. He lost election because he was a status quo candidate. He lost election because he was not able to build a coalition enough to win the highest office in the country—the presidency.
Now, Irro and his political handlers must also stop distraction and lies about how the NEC conducted the election. The votes have been counted. Recount, after recount, will never change the final result. He must respect the will of the people, because Somaliland voters have rejected him, including those in Hargeisa and Gabiley.
Gubanmedia believe candidate Muse Bihi of the incumbent Kulmiye party won fair and square, because he was a better candidate, and his campaign has a better message than that of Irro’s. Of course, no doubt, incumbent party always has advantage other the challengers. But there is no scintilla of evidence that Somaliland election is being rigged or any irregularities from the NEC whatsoever.
And if he has a legitimate claims the manner the election was conducted, he should address his grievances and concerns through the legal channel, after the NEC announce the final result.
But taking to the streets, mob rule, hooliganism, intimidation and thuggery for settling election dispute; Somaliland people will never accept. Common sense, the rule of law and peace must prevail here.
According to Somaliland election laws, the NEC has the authority to do their job: making sure election to be free and fair, so every vote to be counted.
For the NEC, delaying announcing the election result, when the commission knows that Irro lost the election, or holding press conferences or meetings with him repeatedly, would create confusion and uncertainty about the legitimacy of the result.
Irro and his surrogates will never satisfy until NEC declares him as the winner. NEC must stop delaying tactics and announce the final result, because Somaliland voters deserve to know who win the best election Somaliland has executed, so far.
On Election Day, thousands of voters drove, and walked miles to their polling stations. Some of them lined up all the night, and stood up all day in the baking sun, just to vote. They are voting to decide their own political destiny, and to help efforts for Somaliland to gain diplomatic recognition.
For the sake of the country, Irro should concede election defeat and move on. Losing an election is not the end of his political ambition, as Silanyo learned. In 2003, Silanyo lost a flawed election by less than 84 votes. He accepted the result and went off to win presidency in 2010.Silanyo demonstrated leadership:courage, integrity and honor. Now, the leadership Irro lacks.
Lewis Center, Ohio