Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Somaliland’s political rights rating improved from 5 to 4 due to the successful conduct of a long-delayed presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power from the incumbent to his leading rival.
n a long-delayed presidential election in June 2010, incumbent Dahir Riyale Kahin lost to his leading challenger, Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud “Silanyo,” and power was transferred peacefully to the new president. International observers declared the balloting a success, but overdue legislative elections were postponed once more.
The modern state of Somalia was formed in 1960, when the newly independent protectorates of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland agreed to unite. In 1969, General Siad Barre took power, ushering in a violent era of clan rivalries and political repression. Barre was deposed in early 1991, triggering a fight for control between armed militias divided along clan lines. The current Somaliland, largely conforming to the borders of the former British Somaliland in the northwestern corner of the country, took advantage of Somalia’s political chaos and declared independence later that year.
According to Somaliland’s constitution, the president is directly elected for a maximum of two five-year terms and appoints the cabinet. The presidential election of June 2010, originally scheduled for 2008, resulted in the smooth transfer of power from the UDUB party to the main opposition group, Kulmiye. While the outcome was peaceful, the campaign was conducted amid considerable political tension. The opposition accused incumbent Dahir Riyale Kahin of using public money to fund his campaign. There were also some outbreaks of violence. The Shabaab threatened to stop the vote, and in June Somaliland’s police claimed to have disrupted a terrorist plot in the city of Burco. In addition, militia groups supporting Puntland’s claims to Sool and Sanaag attacked polling stations, killing four people. Fake voting cards were found to be in circulation on election day, and there were some reports of underage voting and ballot-box stuffing. The NEC made credible efforts to address most complaints. Domestic and foreign election monitors found that the vote generally met international standards and that its outcome reflected the will of the people.