Shebaab threaten Somaliland voters

2010-06-25 17:05

Hargeisa - Somalia's al-Qaeda-inspired Shebaab warned voters in the northern self-proclaimed state of Somaliland not to vote in the presidential elections, in an audio message obtained by AFP Friday.

"Those who take part in those so-called elections will face the consequences," Ahmed Abdi Godane, the overall leader of the Shebab group, said in the message released ahead of Somaliland's Saturday polls.

Godane, also known as "Abu Zubayr" and a native of the Somaliland capital Hargeisa, said the elections were organised by "the anti-Islamic forces” in Somalia.

Somaliland's presidential polls, which were delayed three times since 2008, are due to go ahead on Saturday, 50 years to the day after the territory obtained its independence from Britain.

The region acquired its independence on June 26 1960, then merged with the rest of Somalia, which had been under Italian rule, but broke away again in 1991, in the aftermath of Somali president Mohamed Siad Barre's ouster.

While central and southern Somalia descended into chaos, Somaliland succeeded in ensuring stability and developed its economy but has yet to be internationally recognised as an independent state.