Somaliland delegates “hide” in masks as they vote for senators in Mogadishu

Somaliland delegates “hide” in masks as they vote for senators in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalis were on Wednesday treated with a bizarre incident after dozens of delegates from Somaliland resorted to hiding their faces using face masks as they voted for senators who will represent the breakaway region in the federal parliament.

The region held elections for the six seats of the eleven reserved for it in federal Senate after months of push and pull between the outgoing Speaker Abdi Hashi and Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Gulaid, who were keen to control the politics of the region.

Photos taken in the Afisyoni center showed the delegates in masks as they elected the first batch of senators, causing uproar on social media. A number of users expressed disgust as they questioned the motive.

However, according to a number of social media users, the delegates may have resorted to the strategy as a way of confusing Al-Shabaab militants, who had previously warned elders against participating in the elections.

Some said the delegates put on face masks to hide from authorities in Somaliland, who may arrest them when they return to the region. Somaliland has often punished citizens who showed support for greater Somalia.

Previously, quite a number of civilians and politicians associating with Mogadishu have often been subjected to stiff penalties, including detention. In fact, even those who were elected on Wednesday often conduct their businesses in Mogadishu rather than Hargeisa.

Winners of Wednesday’s polls include outgoing Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, Salah Ahmed Jama, Prof. Abdi Ismail Samatar, Osman Abukar Dubbe, Layla Ahmed Ismail, and Bilal Idris Abdullahi. The remaining five slots will also be filled from Thursday [today].

Already, a number of stakeholders have hailed Wednesday’s exercise, arguing that it was important and timely. The European Union urged the country and stakeholders to conclude elections soonest.

“The European Union congratulates the ongoing Election of the Upper House in Mogadishu. The EU also calls on the Federal Member States with remaining seats to conclude swiftly, and Somali leaders to meet own commitment to 30% women quota,” it said.

Somaliland has been running a parallel government from that of Mogadishu and it’s currently pushing for international recognition. But authorities in Mogadishu have remained defiant, arguing that the state belongs to its territory.


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