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Change of leadership in Somaliland

A presidential election was held in Somaliland on 26 June 2010. The election was originally scheduled for August 2008. On 1 July 2010, the Somaliland National Election Commission announced that opposition candidate Ahmed M. Mahamoud Silanyo had won the presidential election, defeating incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin.

The chairman of Kulmiye (Unity) party had 49.59 percent of all votes cast while President Dahir Rayale Kahin's party had 33.23 percent, the National Election Commission said.

The Justice and Welfare party was third with 17.18 percent of the vote and has conceded defeat.

There were 1.09 million registered voters in the region of 3.5 million people, and 538,000 valid votes were cast.

"This is an important election for the people of Somaliland. It is also one more step toward the democratisation of the country," Essa Yusuf Mohammed, NEC chairman, said in announcing the results.

"The election was free and fair as witnessed by the international observers and this is a step that will lead to the recognition of the country." International observers said the election had been free and fair Somaliland, colonised by Britain while the rest of Somalia was under Italian administration, declared independence in 1991 as the remainder of the country disintegrated into anarchy.

Despite its relative stability and the establishment of democratic institutions, Somaliland has yet to be recognised internationally but hopes a smooth transition of power would help its international image. The Supreme Court must endorse the results within 15 days and the incumbent president hand over within 30 days.

Somaliland wants to extricate itself from the more violent south where at least 21,000 people have been killed in a raging insurgency against a weak Western-backed government since the begin of 2007.