The much anticipated election of a new president in Somaliland had expats dancing the night away Saturday in Edmonton.
Chair covers decked out in the red, white and green of the Somaliland flag, balloons and banners in the yellow and green of the victorious Kulmiye party, and thumping music was the backdrop for the celebration at the Portuguese Cultural Centre at 12964 52 St.
Wearing a Kulmiye scarf and cap, Mohamad Bakal said the party is closest to what the people want.
Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region in the northwest of Somalia, elected president Muse Bihi Abdi of the Kulmiye party — also known as the Peace, Unity and Development Party — on Nov. 13. The results of the region’s fifth presidential election were confirmed by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission a week after recounts.
Guests who attended the celebration were greeted with a petition, which will be sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking for Somaliland’s independence to be recognized.
Bakal said it will be good to get a somewhat younger president in power who will bring fresh ideas on how to develop Somaliland. Abdi is 68 while outgoing president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud is 86.
Somaliland was previously colonized by the United Kingdom while the rest of Somalia was colonized by Italy.
The recent election had been delayed for two years due to drought and lack of funding. Britain funded the election.
To prevent electoral fraud, iris-recognition technology was used in the elections, Bakal said.
Mohamoud Jama with the Somaliland Cultural Association said in a speech that Somaliland’s democratic elections can serve as an example for the rest of Africa.
“Our people have spoken and expressed their wishes by their votes rather than violence and bombings,” Jama said. “All parties have won in this case there are no winners or losers. We are all winners.”