When Peace Ends

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Hundreds of protesters clashed with security forces in Somaliland Friday in a deadly demonstration over fears that the breakaway region’s president will attempt to delay the upcoming elections later this year, Al Jazeera reported.

President Muse Bihi Abdi said at least five people died and at least 100 were injured, but did not specify whether those killed were civilians or security personnel.

Somaliland police said dozens of officers were injured and that more than 100 people suspected of involvement in the clashes have been arrested.

The demonstrations began after negotiations between the government and opposition parties failed, with the latter accusing authorities of seeking to delay the Nov. 13 presidential election.

Abdi’s term ends in November, but the opposition suspects the president will try to extend his term through the “Guurti,” a council of elders that acts as the de facto parliament of Somaliland.

Following the unrest, opposition leaders criticized the violent crackdown by police as “atrocities” against protesters. Meanwhile, six foreign diplomatic missions, including those of the US and the European Union, condemned the “excessive use of force” and urged the region’s leaders “to engage in constructive dialogue in order to reach consensus on a roadmap for elections.”

Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991, although its independence has received little international recognition. While Somalia has been embroiled in decades of civil conflict, the region has remained relatively peaceful.

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