Somaliland parties agree on conditions for fair polls

Registered political parties in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have agreed on conditions necessary for holding free and fair elections in the region, a source close to the discussions told IRIN on Thursday.

The agreement, between eight of the nine registered parties in Somaliland, was reached at the end of the talks, Abdi Du'ale of the Somaliland Academy for Peace and Development (SAPD) said. The discussions began in February and were organised by the SAPD.

"They have been meeting every Wednesday over the past six months, after which they agreed on the rules of the game for the upcoming elections," he added.

Somaliland is due to hold presidential elections in January, sources close to the Somaliland authorities told IRIN last month.

The parties agreed that for the polls to be free and fair, election laws must be finalised and a massive campaign launched to sensitise the public. Furthermore all parties would observe the electoral laws and no party could seek preferential access to the media or to public assets. Finally, a supreme court president would be appointed before the elections, Du'ale said.

Meanwhile, municipal elections are due to be held in Somaliland on 27 October, a source in the regional capital, Hargeysa, told IRIN.