- Somaliland mediation committee has defended the six-month term extension of President Dahir Riyale by the Upper House in the Somaliland Parliament to end the term in October saying it was valid.
The seven-member Political Mediation Committee charged with reaching a national consensus to resolve the current political crisis in the country, said the elections should take place on 27 September 2009, stating that the campaign should be done before the month of Ramadan as respect to the holly month.
The committee further urged the electoral commission to set a time-frame, ruling that the voter-registration database must be complete by 27 July 2009, to give enough time to organise a fair and free election.
Earlier this month, opposition parties had marched in the capital, Hargeisa, accusing the government breaking the constitutional provisions by postponing elections, saying they would not bow to any unconstitutional rule.
The opposition further contested the second term extension by the Upper House.
The committee further called on the public media to be neutral to the parties and the opposition should get a fair time for use of the media. “The public properties like vehicles, finance, etc should not be used for one party’s purpose only," said the committee, also suggesting that a strong panel of experts should be created to manage the process.
In further called on parties to exercise their constitutional rights to have meetings, gatherings, demonstrations and any other activities that does not come against the law, calling on the government to release all the prisoners arrested during marches.
The committee also said the code of conduct should be prepared ahead of the elections and before the campaign starts, to give both the ruling party and opposition an equal playing field during the elections.
The political crisis in Somaliland erupted in May 2008 after President Riyale received a one-year term extension following a vote by the House of Guurti. Last month, the House of Guurti voted again to give President Riyale and Vice President Ahmed Yusuf Yasin a term extension for the second time.
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