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14 November 2017, 11:56 | Elsie Buchanan
An estimated 70 percent of Somaliland's population are under 30
Voting begun on Monday morning in the breakaway Somaliland in the third poll to elect the 5th president since 1991.
Three candidates are vying for the state's top office: seasoned politicians Muse Bihi of the ruling Kulmiye party and opposition leaders Abdirahman Iro and Faysal Ali Warabe, who was defeated in a previous election in 2010.
"I can tell you that vote counting got underway in some areas after polling stations closed, the Voting has so far been peaceful and we are glad", said Sa'eed Ali Muse, a member of the Electoral Commission. It said it recorded an incident in Togdher region where at least one person was injured after a soldier's gun accidentally discharged.
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Tight security was observed as more than 700,000 registered voters turned out at 1,600 polling stations across Somaliland.
Final results are not expected for several days. It is not known how many eligible voters casted their ballots, as the results are still being counted by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Sixty worldwide observers from 27 countries have been invited to oversee the elections by Somaliland's electoral authorities.
"There were also some complaints from parties of voters being prevented from voting, though again, we didn't hear of anything that seemed systematic or widespread".
The vote comes as much of the rest of Somalia battles Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, who were blamed for the country's worst-ever terrorist attack - an October 14 truck-bombing in the federal capital, Mogadishu, that claimed more than 300 lives. Turnout was thought to be high, but the commission says it was too early to give figures.
The worldwide election observation mission (EOM), which has been invited by Somaliland's National Electoral Commission (NEC), said it will conduct its observation activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for global Election Observation, emphasizing the impartiality and independence of that observation. The territory has run its own affairs since, but has never been recognized as an independent country.
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