Somaliland postpones presidential election to next year


FILE PHOTO: Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland speaks during a news conference on October 10, 2018. Picture taken October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland will postpone its scheduled presidential election to next year, rather than holding it in November when the incumbent president's term ends, the region's electoral body said on Saturday.

In August deadly protests broke out in the region with demonstrators demanding elections be held in November amid suspicions President Muse Bihi Abdi wanted to delay the poll and extend his term.

The poll will now be held in nine months from October - or next July - because the current scheduled date of Nov. 13 "is not viable due to time, technical and financial constraints," the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (SLNEC) tweeted on Saturday.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence. The region has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war.

In the August clashes between security forces and opposition protesters at least five people were killed and 100 injured.

In a press conference after the SLNEC's announcement, Wadani, one of the opposition parties that championed the August protests, welcomed the new date.

"We welcome the decision ... we congratulate them for ending the controversy of the presidential election," Mohamud Aden Jama, Wadani party's information secretary, told the press conference.

(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassani; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by David Holmes)

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