After breaking away from Somalia in 1991, the self-declared state Somaliland went to the polls for the third time since their independence to elect their new president. Three candidates were competing to replace President Ahmed Mohamed (Silanyo), who opted not to seek re-election: Muse Bihi Abdi of the ruling Kulmiye party, Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID and Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi of the Waddani party. Results of the 13 November elections, certified as free and fair by a team of 60 international observers, announced ruling part candidate Muse Bihi Abdi as the new president of Somaliland with 55 percent of the vote.


Day-after-day, I closely followed the election campaign until the most awaited announcement, capturing historical moments on the streets, in polling stations, and rallies, as well as in meetings of the three political parties in course.

It was moments worth sharing: people’s hopefulness and their unique expressions, street parties, youth and women’s engagement in the process, mothers running neighborhood offices for political parties, being at the core of community organization.

I was trying to share a colorful and bright inspiring side of this part of the world.

I’ve been following the elections and its preparations since 2016. I was able to go out and capture the registration, the campaigning and the general atmosphere; people sticking posters and stickers on cars, roaming the city with big speakers telling people through microphones to go out to the nearest voter registration spots.

And coming to 2017 and the elections, it was cheering to see people celebrating and going out while chanting different songs supporting the candidates, or women with drums dancing in circles in those different locations where rallies were happening. Each day, one party was allowed to campaign and go out for rallies, tons of people outside wearing different things representing their parties, colorful scenes throughout the city.

National electoral commission with collaboration with civil society groups started preparing the Voting ID Card registrations campaign in 2016 in Burao. 

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Volunteer asking people to go out and get their Voting ID Card in Burao.

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Presidential candidates at the first Somaliland presidential election debate. 

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Ali Senyo (a Somali famous tv presenter) moderating the first Somaliland presidential electiondebate.

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Muse Bihi (Now elected president) at the Somaliland presidential election debate

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One of the group volunteers resting backstage at the Somaliland presidential debate.

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Muse Bihi, the elected president, prior to the elections, with his cabinet discussing between segments at the first Somaliland presidential debate.

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One of the group volunteers assigned for timing the candidates debate at the Somaliland presidential debate.

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Young WADDANI Party supporters at one of the party rallies. 

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Music selector fixing sound system for WADDANI Party rally outside a neighborhood office. 

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KULMIYE supporters partying at football ground outside one of the party offices in a neighborhood, preparing for the morning party rally

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At a Kulmiye party rally, supporters show off different prints on fabrics, stickers, and some paint their face and body.

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Woman chanting slogans with Durbaan (Somali drum) At a Kulmiye party rally.

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UCID supporters at one of the party’s campaign days at the Freedom Park in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

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young supporters filled a car at a UCID party rally,

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Supporters at a Kulmiye party rally

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Kulmiye young supporters on a Bulldozer at one of the party’s campaign days.

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WADDANI supporters partying outside one of the party offices in a neighborhood, preparing for the morning party rally

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A Waddani rally in the Freedom Park of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.

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A Waddani rally in the Freedom Park of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.

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Leader of one of the groups representing so-called ‘occupational castes’ leatherworkers, metalworkers and haircutters collectively known as the Gabooye, joins a Waddani rally on horse.

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Media lining up documenting politicians and supporters campaign speeches at the freedom park at one of the parties campaigns day.

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A supporter at the UCID party rally

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Supporters of the Waddani political party on trucks campaigning on the streets before the election day.

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Proud voter showing her inked finger outside a voters queue line (Electoral stain is used as an effective security feature to prevent double voting in elections.

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A Waddani rally in the Freedom Park of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.

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Billboards in Hargeisa promoting the candidates and the different parties.

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People in the streets celebrating the victory of Muse Bihi from the ruling Kulmiye party.

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