Policy Brief : Somaliland Presidential Elections:Political Context ,Electoral Standards and Anticipated Challenges

A woman casts her ballot in the presidential election in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland. photo by AFP

Horndiplomat-The Republic of Somaliland enjoys a multiparty political system in which competitive elections is center to its pattern. Successive elections were conducted in Somaliland, including the municipal elections in 2002, the first competitive democratic presidential election held in 2003, and the parliamentary elections in 2005, the second presidential election in 2010. The third presidential election is scheduled in November 2017.

Nonetheless, delays to timely elections overshadowed the blatant democratic reputation of Somaliland, which occasioned international partners to reconsider its sums of its assistance to Somaliland. There was also a domestic frustration over the elections postponements, and failure to honor timely elections. The upcoming presidential election was due in 2015 and has been delayed two consecutive times, while the elections of the Somaliland legislative houses are overstaying the constitutional limits. Somaliland has succeeded to recover its post-conflict political polarization through indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms, and constitutional democracy. It is notable to mention that multilayered political and social conflicts resolved in between 1991- 1997 without external assistances. And, this has contributed to the establishment of political system which led to the foundation of power sharing and broader political and clans’ reconciliations.

Somaliland’s state- building process is dubbed as “hybrid political order” in sense that Somaliland combines the House of Guurti which is more inclusive political organ and unelected House with the democratically elected bodies— President, Local Councilors, and the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, the House of Guurti was blamed of legitimizing postponements of elections, as were unconstitutional in a number of occasions, and also the act of avoidance of laying the foundation of its electoral system, the Guurti election law. It is worth to mention that the House of Guurti has made tremendous efforts in resolving political and clans’ conflicts during the decade of fragility in 1991-1997.

The House of Guurti was only the political and traditional organ with capacity and leadership to handle political and clans’ reconciliations; creation of the House of Guurti was a vital instrument to restore peace and political stability. Thus, there is a heated debate on how the electoral system of the House of Guurti will be, and it is beyond reasonable doubt that unelected House of Guurti ascertains key democratic challenges in the post-transition and constitutional democratic process. This policy brief is examining to what extent the upcoming presidential elections will comply in conformity of international electoral standards.

In Somaliland, the electoral process has experienced constant challenges that hugely affected the electoral process. But in this year there are some improvements considering the secured voters list, impartial national electoral commission, development electoral laws and code of conducts and some degree of political parties maturity adds to the democratic pride that is enjoyed in Somaliland comparing other African countries. Finally, the domestic and international observers, civil society organizations and independent media were an integral part of the process and now are playing constructive role on how the presidential elections to be held in a manner which is free, fair, transparent and peaceful.

Mohamed A. Mohamoud-Barawani
University for Peace, Costa Rica

BY:Mohamed A. Mohamoud – Barawani
University for Peace, Costa Rica

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Policy Brief about Somaliland elections

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