CIIR to observe elections in Somaliland

 A team of experts from four continents is preparing to visit the internationally unrecognised country of Somaliland to ensure that its forthcoming parliamentary elections are free and fair. The group of 20 international election observers was chosen by international development agency the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) and includes writers and academics renowned for their work on this fledgling nation in northern Somalia, east Africa. There will be 982 polling stations around the country, and Somalilanders hope the elections will bring international recognition for their new nation, built from scratch by ordinary citizens after years of devastating civil war. Somalilanders regard these elections as testament to the support they deserve from the international community while their country pushes for democratic practice in Africa. Mohamed Dualeh, a Somalilander living in Britain, will accompany the team on his first visit to the country. He said: "I am really looking forward to the elections. All Somalilanders are expecting and hoping to see a successful last phase of the democratisation process and we hope it leads to the recognition of the country as a peaceful and democratic state in the Horn of Africa. "I feel honoured to be taking part as an observer as it feels as though I'm giving something back to my homeland and to the people of Somaliland. The experience will be unique: I have never been to Somaliland before and it's beyond my dreams to go there for the first time as an election observer. We have a great team who all want to see Somaliland achieve its democratic aims." The team of observers has been funded by the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and is led by Dr Steve Kibble, CIIR Advocacy Coordinator for Africa, and Dr Adan Abokor, CIIR Country Representative for Somaliland. Dr Kibble and Dr Abokor also led the team observing the 2002 local elections, which proved peaceful, reasonably free, fair and were enthusiastically welcomed. A report of the elections will be written and launched in Hargeisa and London. Source: CIIR

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