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Somaliland is African democratic success

Presidential elections in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland began peacefully on Saturday after multiple delays in the last two years.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2010 01:33 IST

Presidential elections in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland began peacefully on Saturday after multiple delays in the last two years.

The rest of the Horn of Africa state has been gripped by violence for almost two decades and the latest government is wrestling to overcome near-daily attacks by Islamist rebel groups bent on ousting it.

The violence, mostly between government troops and al Qaeda's proxy in the region known as al Shabaab, has killed at least 21,000 people and uprooted another 1.5 million from their homes.

The former British colony of Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognised internationally as a sovereign state despite its relative stability and the establishment of democratic institutions.

The elections in the region have been postponed three times since 2008 due to disputes over the number of registered voters.