HARGEISA, Somalia – Nearly one million voters will have a chance to elect their local representatives in North Western of Somaliacivic and parliamentary contests, in what could be a major test for President Muse Bihi Abdi, who is trying to control the House for agenda-setting.

This will be the first direct election in Somalia’s breakaway region, which claimed independence in 1991 but has not yet been recognized internationally.

Scheduled for May 31, Monday’s election will see dozens of candidates vying for over 82 constituencies. Another 966 candidates are vying for 249 municipal seats in the six regions, making the 2021 parliamentary and civic elections the most competitive in the country’s history to date.

“We have just sent out the last shipment of election materials from Djibouti Airport. The NEC is ready to make it happen … Your prayers would also be helpful,” Mustafe Mohamed Dahir, Vice President of the North Western of SomaliaElectoral Commission, was quoted as saying on 16 May.

“Encouraging to see over 1.06 million voters registered for the upcoming parliamentary and local elections in Somaliland. Congratulations to Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission for handling such a successful registration process,” the Danish government added.

Great competition is expected between the ruling Kulmiye party and the main opposition, the Wadani party, which had almost fallen out with the government due to delays in the election. Last year, a number of opposition leaders were arrested following protests against delays in the election.

The election campaign for the municipal council and parliament is in full swing. The ruling Kulmiye party, led by President Muse Bihi, attended the meetings in Hargeisa. Supporters of the Kulmiye party came out in droves and held rallies in support of their favorite candidates across the country.

“We have chosen the most competent candidates. We have been entrusted with power and are ready to serve the nation. No one will lose the election. They will all win,” he said.

The president added: “Somaliland’s political parties are competing with each other. The Kulmiye party has been tested and controlled.”

Two political parties have ruled North Western of Somaliafor the past 30 years. The first ruling party was founded by a former leader, Mohmed Haji Ibrahim Egal. The current Kulmiye party was founded by Ahmed Mohmed M. Silanyo, the third president of the republic.

The Wadani party, led by Abdirahman Irro, has also intensified campaigns throughout the region and expressed optimism that it will control the House of Commons. The party had previously accused Muse Bihi Abdi of dictatorship and claimed that his record for political freedoms and human rights was frightening.

Meanwhile, Somaliland’s armed forces have increased security ahead of the election, the interior minister said. The Armed Forces, the military, the police, the detention corps, immigration and the traffic police work together patrolling the streets and large freedom parks where the meetings are held.

Interior Minister Mohmed Kahin called on citizens to be prepared to take part in the forthcoming elections.

Security has been upgraded and security forces deployed across polling stations. The campaign is now underway and will end on Friday.

President Bihi Abdi has warned officials and security officials not to engage in political acts or to be considered politicians. The head of state reiterated the need to uphold the country’s laws set out in the constitution.