Somaliland ruling party wins presidential vote

Ruling party candidate Muse Bihi Abdi speaks to the media after casting his vote in the presidential election in Hargeisa, in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland, in Somalia. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2017
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Somaliland ruling party wins presidential vote

MOGADISHU: Muse Bihi from the ruling Kulmiye party was on Tuesday declared the winner of last week’s presidential poll in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland, election officials said.
Bihi, 69, won with 55 percent of the vote, beating Abdirahman Iro of the main opposition Waddani party, who received 41 percent. Faysal Ali Warabe, who previously ran and lost in 2010, came third with four percent.
“The tallying process of the election was concluded and Kulmiye party candidate Muse Bihi Abdi... won the election and will be the president,” said election commission chairman Abdikadir Iman Warsame.
The northern territory, which declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, hopes the successful conclusion of its third presidential election will bolster its democratic credentials and strengthen the case for independence from its troubled neighbor.
Bihi, a retired air force officer and former interior minister, is a well-known figure in Somaliland and has chaired the Kulmiye party (Peace, Unity and Development) since 2010. He will succeed as President Ahmed Mohamud Silaanyo, who did not seek re-election.
Elections are meant to be held every five years, but the poll was delayed for two years due to drought and technical issues.
Somaliland’s history of peaceful, credible elections and democratic transition sets it apart from anarchic southern Somalia.
Somalia — which is wracked with fighting between African Union-backed Somali forces and the Al-Qaeda aligned AL-Shabab militants — held an election in February that saw a president chosen via a limited electoral process in which handpicked clan elders selected delegates who were allowed to vote.
However Somaliland drew criticism for imposing a blackout on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook after voting closed on Nov. 14, to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over the outcome.
Iro had also questioned the conduct of this month’s election, claiming harassment and fraud, including the participation of underage voters.
Somaliland, a former British protectorate, won independence in 1960 but days later joined with Somalia.
In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, it declared independence from the rest of the country, and has long hoped for international recognition.


Iran says range of its land-to-sea missiles increased to 700 kilometers — Fars

Updated 13 min 55 sec ago
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Iran says range of its land-to-sea missiles increased to 700 kilometers — Fars

  • Iranian head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division said the range was extended to 700 kilometers (435 miles)
LONDON: Iran has extended the range of its land-to-sea ballistic missiles to 700km (435 miles), a senior Iranian military official said on Tuesday, as tensions over the weapons rise with the United States.
US President Donald Trump withdrew from an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May, saying it was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s ballistic missiles program or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran, which says its missile program is purely defensive, has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.
“We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700km,” Amirali Hajjizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ airspace division, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
He did not give details on the previous range of the missiles. In 2008, Iran displayed a ground-to-sea missile that it said could travel about 290km.
Speaking in a teleconference call on Monday, US special envoy on Iran Brian Hook said that Tehran’s ballistic missile program was exacerbating tensions in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. “We are accumulating risk of regional conflict if we do not do more to deter Iran’s missile proliferation in the Middle East,” Hook said.