UN Special envoy to Somalia James Swan has reiterated his call on Somaliland to hold elections in 2020 despite the delays by parliament announced last November.

Addressing journalists in Hargeisa following a meeting with Somaliland president Muse Bihi, Swan said there was need to fast track the process to ensure the break-away region holds parliamentary elections this year.

The last parliamentary elections in Somaliland were held in 2005 and any attempts have since failed following perennial delays.

“We encourage rapid progress to complete all necessary steps for Somaliland to hold parliamentary elections in 2020. We welcome the inter-party dialogue and urge implementation of the recent agreements that would enable preparations for elections to be held in 2020,” said Swan.

Swan’s remarks follow similar calls by the international community in November following the decision by Somaliland’s House of the Elders (Guurti) to add itself three more years and two to the Lower House.
The international community had expressed concerns over the delays and urged Somaliland authorities to ensure elections are held this year.

Swan also pressed Bihi’s administration for suppression of freedom of expression and urged respect.

“We call on Somaliland authorities to ensure respect for freedom of speech and assembly, as well as the ability of political parties to organise and function. Such political space is essential for a credible process.”

The UN envoy also urged continued efforts to finding lasting peace in Tukaraq and other disputed areas between Somaliland and Puntland.