Musa Bihi Abdi has been sworn in as the fifth president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a month after his controversial election.The colorful investiture took place in the capital Hargeisa on Wednesday as Mr Bihi reached out to his political opponents who are still challenging the outcome of the polls.
With his opponents in mind Bihi said: “If you have grievances I urge you to come to the negotiating table.”
He promised to resolve all disputes stemming from the election and unite the Somalilanders in the interest of development.
Mr Bihi is a former military pilot replaced Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo who did not seek a second term
The November 13 election featured the world’s first eye-identification biometric voting system which had been on trials since 2015 to prevent election fraud.
Musa Bihi Abdi of the ruling Peace, Unity and Development Party (KULMIYE) faced Faisal Ali Warabe of the Justice and Welfare Party (UCID) and former House Speaker, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro of the National Party.
Although Somaliland is not recognized as an independent country, 24 nations sent observers to the election which was jointly funded by the United States, Norway, and Denmark to the tune of $20million.
800, 000 Somalilanders were registered to take part in the poll.
The poll originally scheduled for March 2017 had been postponed due to the area’s prolonged drought.
Under the new voting system, prospective voters were identified individually through an iris-recognition device before they were cleared to vote once.
The idea of introducing this unique voting system was the brainchild of the University of Notre Dame’s biometric specialist, Kevin Bowyer who was approached to develop the method ahead of the 2017 elections.
Proponents of the system say it ensured a rig-free election in Somaliland and boosted its chances of winning international recognition as an independent country.
Somaliland has been holding regular elections since it declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia following the overthrow of federal president Siad Barrie in 1991.