Somaliland appeal to vote despite al-Shabab threat

A policewoman stands in front of supporters of opposition Kulmiye party during a rally in Hargeisa Security has been beefed up ahead of the vote

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Somaliland's authorities have appealed to voters to turn out for Saturday's presidential election despite a warning from Islamists not to participate.

An al-Shabab leader in Somalia said elections were un-Islamic and called democracy "the devil's principles".

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 when the country descended into civil war; it has not been recognised internationally.

But 70 international observers will monitor its second presidential poll.

About 800 local personnel will also observe as 1.69m officially registered voters choose a new president.

Incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin faces two opponents.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in the capital, Hargeisa, says this week's al-Shabab warning by Abu Zubayr, also known as Mukhtar Abdirahman, has been the talk of the town.

But with campaigning finished and appeals from the government and respected traditional leaders to ignore the threat, the mood is quiet and security has been increased, he says.

Compared with its neighbour, Somaliland has been relatively stable.

After declaring independence in 1991, it formed its own hybrid system of governance consisting of a lower house of elected representatives, and an upper house, which incorporated the elders of tribal clans.

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