A powerful House of Elders in the Republic of Somaliland on Saturday extended the term of the president, days after a scheduled poll was put off over technical and financial reasons.

The Guurti — composed of unelected Somaliland elders — said they had extended the term of Muse Bihi Abdi for two years to end a protracted political conflict.

“There are 74 members sitting in this session and 72 of them voted in favor of the mandate extension,” chairman of the council Saleban Mohamud Adan said.

Somaliland House Of Elders Extend President Term
Somaliland’s Upper House of Parliament

The House of Elders, made up of traditional elders representing the local clans, is the most powerful body in the country.

It has the final say in resolving political issues, including disputes in parliament.

A vote to pick the next president of the republic of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa was scheduled for November 13, a month before the term of Abdi expired.

Somaliland House Of Elders Extend President Term
Saleban Mohamud Adan, the chairman of the Upper House of Parliament (Guurti)

But the Electoral commission said last week that technical and financial issues meant the poll could not go ahead.

The commission did not indicate a potential new date, saying only there would be “a nine-month delay from October 1, 2022”.

There was no immediate reaction from the opposition to the parliament’s extension of the president’s term.

Somaliland House Of Elders Extend President Term
President Muse Bihi Abdi

The opposition had earlier voiced concern that the government was dragging its feet over preparations.

The run-up to the scheduled poll was marred when several people were killed and dozens wounded in early August after police fired on anti-government demonstrators in several towns, according to opposition party members and witnesses.

A former British protectorate, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but the move has not been recognized by the international community, leaving the Horn of Africa country of about four million people poor and isolated.

Somaliland has however remained relatively stable while Somalia has been wracked by decades of civil war, political violence, and an Islamist insurgency.

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