The first-ever Somaliland Presidential Election Debate has been held in Hargeisa last Thursday, October 19, 2017. All three presidential candidates from the three political parties, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdilllahi from Waddani, Musa Bihi Abdi from Kulmiye and Faisal Ali Warabe from Ucid participated in the debate. It was a well-organized debate similar to the American Presidential debate, with an intelligent and educative performance by the presidential hopefuls. The debate lasted approximately three hours with the central focus on critical national issues such as justice, health, security, education, economy, inflation, unemployment, foreign affairs and human rights.
At the initial stage of the debate, it appears that the three presidential candidates were a bit confused, except Faisal Ali Warabe, the candidate representing the Ucid Party, who is seen by many people as the most outstanding amongst the three candidates, due to his vigour and the intelligent way he articulated problems and solutions relating to critical national issues, in sharp contrast to his counterparts. Faisal, who happens to be the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Ucid, proffers lots of resounding solutions and far-reaching ideas in tackling the various challenges facing the country, drawing inspiration from Scandinavian Social Democratic policy.
Information builds on existing facts gathered from popular social media platforms indicated that so many people have taken to his ideas and the smart way he presented his argument, even at a time when his party is undergoing destructive internal conflicts relating to the party’s power-sharing system, which had been a significant challenge in recent years. The energetic and eloquent-speaking Faisal who is contesting for the third time for the presidency accused the other candidates of being part of the problems plaguing the country since both of them have worked with the current and former ruling governments and have a clan-based policy which, in this context, suggests they have poor leadership qualities. Faisal (amidst laughter) emphasised his credibility as a ‘born leader’ and who is anointed to lead Somaliland from economic hardship, injustice and political turmoil in to a life of economic wealth, justice for all, infrastructural development, good health care, and political stability.
As the debate rages on, the other two Presidential candidates hopefuls, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi of Waddani party and Musa Bihi Abdi representing Kulmiye party, both agreed to introduce swift judicial reforms. Musa Bihi pledges to educate and increase the salaries payable to traditional leaders while committing to building all institutions to promote and create more legitimate, accountable and effective judicial system.
On the other hand, Abdirahman expressed his concern about the twin evils of inflation and unemployment, emphasising on the need to build a strong and functional central bank as the only solution for tackling inflation. Abdiranhman highlighted that the Central Bank of Somaliland has the potentials to tame and control inflation, provided the government take its responsibility and introduce strong regulations. The embittered Abdirahman went further by accusing the government and the ruling Kulmiye party of corruption and tribalism; strong allegations which prompted Musa Bihi, the candidate representing the Kulmiye party, to defend both the government and his party, stating that the Siilaanyo-led government have done lots of important things for the country during its mandate period and that he is willing to complete the rest, if given the mandate.
Conversely, Musa Bihi launched out at Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, accusing him of poor leadership qualities during his tenure as Chairman of the Parliament of Somaliland. Musa Bihi pointed out the inability of Abdirahman to lead some parliamentary members, as one of his numerous failures as a leader. Going further, Musa Bihi Abdi proudly underlined his wealth of experience and sound knowledge about the people and the country of Somaliland as the superior qualities that set him apart from the other candidates. Going back on memory lane, Musa Bihi enumerated on the selfless services and sacrifices he made towards building the nation of Somaliland, while his counterparts–Abdirahman and Faisal–were both living in the Diaspora (Finland). Against this backdrop, Musa Bihi Abdi expressed his concern that Abdirahman and Faisal cannot lead Somaliland in the future.
‘Inspire Group,’ a non-governmental organisation in collaboration with Somali speaking televisions and academy for peace and development were the organisers of the Presidential debate. The most remarkable point is that all those who arranged the debate such as organisers, voluntaries and sponsors were young Somaliland academicians. This portends a positive sign to Africa and the world in general, indicating that the youth of Somaliland are capable of building their future while demonstrating that Somaliland is a model for democracy in Africa.
The debate attracted lots of attention from different parts of the world, as prior research findings reveals that the debate clocked over 2.9 million impressions and followers on social media, particularly on Twitter. To make this happen, a well-trained voluntarily youth movement was doing a live streaming from the hall of the debate by using the Hashtag #SomalilandDebates #DoodQaran.
Finally, for those of you who have never heard about Somaliland, it declared independence after the overthrow of Somali military dictator, Siad Barre in 1991. Although Somaliland was not internationally recognized, it has a functioning political system, government institutions, a police force and its currency. The multi-party system has played a vital role in Somaliland’s democracy following the approval of the constitution by the people of Somaliland in 2001.
The year 2003 witnessed Somaliland’s first free and fair presidential election, which was followed by a second poll that was successfully conducted in 2010, bringing into power the current government of President Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo. The previous elections were primarily considered free and fair by international observers. Siilaanyo defeated the incumbent, Dahir Riyale Kahin, who was appointed by a council of elders in 2002 and won the country’s first multi-party elections in 2003. It was a peaceful transition of power in a democratically electoral setting.
Musa M. Isse is a journalist, author and social entrepreneur based in Stockholm, Sweden
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org