HARGEISA (Reuters) - The breakaway enclave of Somaliland will vote in a long-awaited presidential election on June 26 after a string of delays angered the opposition and worried rights groups, its electoral commission said on Thursday.
Mohamed Ahmed Hirsi Ghelle, spokesman for the National Electoral Commission (NEC), said the date just needed the president's approval, which the semi-autonomous region's leader indicated he would give.
"I will approve the date fixed by the National Electoral Commission," President Dahir Rayale Kahin told reporters on his return from a three-week foreign visit.
The vote in the Horn of Africa region has been delayed three times since April 2008, which clan elders blamed on problems with voter registration.
The setting of a date will likely offer some relief to those who feared the extended political strife in Somaliland could be exploited by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels who control much of central and southern Somalia.
The region has enjoyed relative peace and stability compared with the rest of Somalia but is frustrated by its total lack of international recognition as a sovereign state.
The former British colony will also mark 50 years of independence on June 26.