A presidential poll in the separatist Somali region of Somaliland has been postponed for “technical and financial reasons,” the electoral commission said Saturday.
Muse Bihi Abdi was elected president of the self-proclaimed republic on the Horn of Africa on a five-year mandate in 2017 and the election was scheduled for November 13, a month before his term expires.
But the head of the electoral commission, Muse Yusuf, said technical and financial issues meant the poll could not go ahead.
Yusuf told a news conference in the capital Hargeisa that electoral lists were yet to be drawn up and “in such a short time frame it is not possible to organize the election.”
The commission did not indicate a potential new date, saying only there would be “a nine-month delay from October 1, 2022.”
Opposition candidate Faysal Ali Warabe backed Saturday’s move.
“I support the decision of the commission to hold the presidential election with a nine-month delay,” he tweeted, while refusing to countenance any extension of the president’s mandate.
Political analyst Barkhad Ismael said however that legislative authorities “are probably going to prolong the president’s mandate in the coming weeks.”
The run-up to the scheduled poll was marred when several people were killed and dozens wounded early last month after police fired on anti-government demonstrators in several towns, according to opposition party members and witnesses.
Hundreds of people protested after opposition parties accused the authorities of seeking to delay the vote.
A previous vote, originally scheduled for 2015, was postponed until 2017 owing to severe drought and technical issues.
The former British protectorate declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but the move has not been recognized by the international community, leaving the Horn of Africa region of about 4 million people poor and isolated.
Despite the recent unrest, Somaliland has remained relatively stable whereas Somalia has been wracked by decades of civil war, political violence and an Islamist insurgency.