Somaliland opposition postpones protest ‘to give mediation a chance’

Somaliland

HARGEISA (Somaliguardian) – Opposition parties in Somalia’s northern break-away state of Somaliland on Friday said they had postponed nationwide protests scheduled for Saturday, as tensions over the conduct of an upcoming presidential vote continue to escalate.

Chairman of Waddani opposition party Hersi Ali Haji Hassan told media that considering requests by traditional leaders and religious scholars they decided to temporarily delay the protest “to give mediation a chance”.

Apart from bowing to pressure from elders seeking to mediate an end to the current tensions, Hersi noted there were other factors that led to their decision, including nationwide intermediate and secondary school exams which have begun across self-proclaimed state on Saturday.

Leader of Ucid opposition party Faysal Ali Warabe also confirmed that his party would halt an anticipated march aimed at demanding a timely presidential election as opposition leaders accuse the government of draging its feet to hold the vote.

On Thursday, police violently broke up an opposition protest and arrested a number of people, including officials of both parties. Others were injured by gunfire, including an MP who said he had been shot in the leg in an attempt to “cripple” his advocacy of the rights of citizens.

An impasse over the schedule of the vote has been dragging for months, with the opposition demanding that the election be held on its due date and the government insisting that elections for political parties must be held first.

Presidential candidate of Waddani opposition party Abdirahman Irro said on Thursday he had escaped an assassination attempt by security forces, weeks after he had vowed to cease recognizing Muse Bihi as Somaliland president if he fails to hold the presidential vote on Nov. 13.

All members of the electoral commission resigned earlier this month, receding hopes for a breakthrough in the stalemate despite growing calls for calm and restraint.

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