Dahir Riyale Kahin
Date of Birth: 1952
President Dahir Riyale Kahin's Unity, Peace and Independence Party (UDUB)
is heavily criticised amid repeated delays to the presidential
election, which was due on 27 September; this week he postponed
Problems began in April 2008 when the Upper House, the Guurti,
extended the mandate by a year. The Guurti is regarded as being
in the presidential pocket and this infuriated the opposition.
It took two months to resolve the crisis and reschedule the election
for April 2009. There were further difficulties over electoral
registration, which began in October; 1.3 million people were
registered, though most estimates suggested 700,000 would be more
Facial recognition technology is supposed to iron out inconsistencies
and there were claims the count would be at least 90% accurate.
This meant further delays and another extension of Riyale's mandate,
to September. His government also expelled Interpeace, a United
Nations-partnered organisation overseeing electoral registration
due to monitor polling.
The government also caused uproar by announcing it would hold
elections without the electoral register. Both opposition parties
threatened a boycott. Ethiopia despatched its Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs to Hargeisa and the number two in the British
Embassy in Addis Ababa tried to mediate in the crisis, which damages
Somaliland's hopes of international recognition.
Born in 1952, President Dahir Riyale Kahin is Somaliland's third
President. A member of the feared National Security Service under
the late Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre, as Vice-President
of Somaliland he took over after President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal
died in 2002. He narrowly won the 2003 presidential election,
amid claims of manipulation. From the minority Gadabursi people,
he benefits from divisions in the majority Isaaq clan.