According to sources, the Somaliland government will release all candidates detained Parliamentary and Local Council Election Candidates, following intense lobbying by opposition parties and election stakeholders including the Somaliland National Election Commission. Somaliland parliamentary and local council elections are scheduled for Monday, May 31, 2021.
Several candidates mostly from the opposition parties of UCID and Waddani have been detained on a range of charges including counterfeit documents to qualify for election and having links to the government of Somalia according to statements made by government officials and Somali Police which published what they referred to as the evidence against the detained candidates.
Somaliland National Election Commission, opposition parties, the government’s human rights organization, and members of the International Community have urged the government to release the detained candidates. Somaliland Election Law gives official candidates an immunity from prosecution during the election unless caught in the act of commission of a crime.
Opposition parties have accused the government of using state institutions including the Ministry of Education and Science, The Commission on Higher Education, and law enforcement agencies including the Police to target opposition candidates to prevent them from running for office. The government denies the accusation and insists that the candidates include some from the ruling party of Kulmiye and are detained on legitimate charges.
Although the government of Somaliland has been focal about why the candidates have been detained, it has not officially charged any of them with a crime. It is unclear if the government intends to drop charges or will release the candidates on bail to continue campaigning while investigations continue.