Saturday November 11, 2017
Self-declared independent state of Somaliland has announced its decision to shut down social media networks on election day November 13, until the results are released.
The decision will also affect the flow of information to observers outside the country of the election touted to be the first incident-free polls to be held in the Horn of Africa.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) said on Friday that the move is to avoid the spread of fake news in the country.
Somaliland’s decision follows those of Uganda, Congo, Chad, Gabon, Niger, and Gambia where internet connection was blocked during their elections last year. The blockade did not reduce controversies during those elections.
Countries such as Ghana, Zambia, and recently Rwanda, Angola, Kenya and Liberia kept their internet active and were not threatened by fake news.
Three candidates are vying to replace the Somaliland’s fourth president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo who withdrew from running for a second seven-year term.
The country will be the first in Africa to use the iris-recognition biometric voter registration system.
Out of the about 4 million Somaliland population, 704, 089 registered voters are expected to elect the new president. There are 1,642 polling stations in the 21 constituencies across the six regions of the country.
A team of 60 international election observers from 24 countries have been deployed to the country by the international election observation mission (EOM) funded by the British government.
Somaliland has held successful presidential elections in 2003 and 2010 including a parliamentary election in 2005.
They declared unilateral independence from Somalia on May 18, 1991. It has been under pressure to hold talks with Somalia which have so far been futile.
Described as the most peaceful state in the Horn of Africa region, Somaliland can boast of an army, its own currency and legal system.
The territory has been experiencing stability and economic prosperity. It has been influential in the fight against piracy and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
26 years of diplomatic isolation has made it difficult for Somaliland to have access to loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
It is regarded as the autonomous region of Somalia and not a sovereign state.