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 the 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 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 that all 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.
This article was first published in the Somaliland Chronicle and is republished with permission