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.


Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

A Turkish soldier is seen in an armoured personnel carrier at a check point near the Turkish-Syrian border in Kilis province, Turkey. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Turkish court rejects Australia’s request to extradite Daesh recruiter

  • Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia
  • Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained

SYDNEY: A Turkish court rejected an Australian request to extradite a citizen it believes is a top recruiter for the Daesh group, Australia’s foreign minister said on Friday, in a setback for Canberra’s efforts to prosecute him at home.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Daesh videos and magazines. Australia has alleged that he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of militancy.
“We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision,” she said.
Australia had been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained there nearly two years ago.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported from Kilis that Prakash was initially ordered to be freed but was later charged under Turkish law with being a Daesh member.
A spokesman at Turkey’s foreign ministry in Istanbul had no immediate comment and the Turkish embassy in Australia did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Ties between Turkey and its allies fighting Daesh, particularly the United States, have been frayed by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a militant group.
Canberra announced financial sanctions against Prakash in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
The Australian government wrongly reported in 2016, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalized in Iraq or Syria.
A staunch ally of the United States and its actions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Australia believes more than 100 of its citizens were fighting in the region.