Recent deadly protests in Somaliland were incited by opposition leaders influenced by events in other foreign countries, authorities have said.
Addressing the public on national TV on Friday, Somaliland President Muse Bihi said the Thursday street protests that shook the three Somaliland cities of Hargeisa, Burao and Erigavo, were masterminded by the leaders of Wadani and UCID parties, after learning from the recent events in Sri Lanka where protesters forced their leaders out of office.
“Five people died, 3 in Hargeisa, 1 in Burao and 1 in Erigavo, as a result of violent protests instigated by Chairman of Wadani Party Hersi Haji Hassan, Chairman of UCID Party Faysal Ali Warabe and the Former Chairman of Wadani Party-cum- Somaliland Presidential Candidate Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro,” said Bihi.
“Abdirahman Irro has watched films depicting popular protests in Sri Lanka, thinking that public disorder can win him the leadership (of Somaliland).”
Protesters in Sri Lanka recently forced their President and Prime Minister to quit, accusing the leadership of the Asian country of running down the economy.
In Somaliland, the epicentre of the squabble between the government led by Bihi and the leaders of the opposition parties involves the presidential election scheduled for November 13.
The opposition parties believe the president is going to seek term extension by creating circumstances to extend his term. They said they will continue the street protests.
“We are going to continue the demonstrations until we ascertain that Bihi declares that the election is going to be held on 13th of November,” said UCID Chairman Warabe on Friday.
Bihi said protesters were violent and even attacked police.
“The protest instigators allowed the demonstrators to use stones, daggers, batons, etc. against the law enforcement agents,” he said. “That is why most of those wounded were police officers.”
But the opposition leaders who led the marches, including a number of members of the House of Representatives, accused the police of using live ammunition to disperse protesters, leading to the death of at least 10 people with several others injured.