Challenges of Somaliland Elections: When the Election Disputes Become the Opportunity of Politicians to Remain in Office

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citizens of Somaliland head to the polls to elect their local municipal council representatives.photo by dailysignal
citizens of Somaliland head to the polls to elect their local municipal council representatives.photo by dailysignal

Brief Summary, Translated from the Original Somali Version Report.

The original version of this report was released in Somali Language, but this is a summary translated from the Somali Version, which is highlighting how Somaliland Political Leaders are failing to solve the Election Related Disputes, and in other hand, how selected or elected houses and local councils are benefiting the election disputes to remain in office, so Election Disputes will exist till we get a political will and root cause analysis of why election disputes are coming back every time? Why House of Elders failed to draft or initiate their election bill for the last 22 years? Why the House of Representatives and Political Leaders failed to solve the issue of seat allocation to approve the election bill in the House? How it happens that elected councilors to remain in office when their term expired, even without extension? These and other important questions.

This Summary will focus on the Challenges of the upcoming Elections, Youth and Women Representation in Parliament, The Members of House of Elders, Extensions etc.

SUMMARY

For the last 20 Months, there was an ongoing political tension between Somaliland’s Ruling Party of Kulmiye and the Opposition leaders about the Election issues. They met more than 30 times to solve their political differences, but still they don’t agree or resolved any issue of the main challenges of Somaliland’s upcoming Elections.

On 27th July 2019, when the Somaliland Political Parties failed to solve their political differences about the issue of National Electoral Commission, the International Community led by the EU Ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga and Head of British Office in Hargeisa Stuart Brown, mediated and finally the leaders of the three political parties reached 8 points agreement, solving the issue of National Electoral Commission and the selection process of the new NEC. Unfortunately, that agreement was not fully implemented, and the timeline in the agreement was not followed as all sides have agreed. A new NEC was nominated, and the House of Representatives Approved 6 of the 7 members of the commission, while the Waddani party withdraw its member. The Opposition parties rejected the new NEC, because they accused the current chairman of the new NEC, that he was an active member of the ruling Party of Kulmiye.

On November 17th 2019, the chairman of the Opposition Party of Waddani Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullaahi Irro, called his supporters a gathering in front of their main office in Hargeisa, to share with them an important information, but a different government officials including the Police commissioner called the supporters not attend the gathering of Waddani party in their office, and the police commissioner told the media that the government banned that gathering, but the spokesperson of the Opposition Party of Waddani Barkhad Jama Batuun reiterated that the gathering of his party supporters will happen the next morning in the main office in Hargeisa. Then the government arrested the Spokesperson, the General Secretary of Waddani Party and other supporters, but released after ten days without any charges.

On November 24th 2019, the House of Elders extended 2 years’ time to both Houses of the Parliament, the 6th time to extend the House of Representatives and the 10th time to extend their House of Elder’s term, the new extended term of House of Elders will Expire 2023 while the new term of House of Representative will expire 2022, but the Opposition Parties Opposed the Extension.

On November 27th, 2019, the International Partners and Friends of Somaliland called on the leaders of Somaliland to hold the parliamentary elections and to solve the dispute of the National Electoral Commission. The international partners in a joint statement expressed concerned over the decision to extend the terms of both the House of Representatives and the House of Elders 2022 and 2023 respectively.

  • We are especially concerned by the decision of the Guurti to extend both House of Representatives and Guurti’s mandates to January 2022 and January 2023 respectively. Both Houses, established to represent the women and men of Somaliland, have been sitting for a period much too long by any democratic standards. Local councils have been operating without a democratic mandate since April 2019, We therefore call on the government and all political actors to reaffirm, through both words and deeds, the long-standing culture of mutual agreement, consensus and compromise, to find a way through this current impasse in order for both parliamentary and local elections to take place without any further delay, well before the end of the calendar year 2020,” said the International partners in their joint statement signed by the United Nations, IGAD, European Union, United States of America, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Finland, France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland. The International Partners called the need of a National Electoral Commission that inspires broad trust from all political actors as well as from the citizens of Somaliland.

Somaliland is seeking an international recognition and it is selling its good examples of maintaining locally owned peace and modern democracy to attract the international partners, so, Somaliland needs to listen carefully the concerns of international partners. It is not a simple press release when all partners including EU, UN, IGAD and other countries jointly send a message to Somaliland Political Leaders, but it is a strong message.

On December 4th 2019, a group of Politicians – the National Consultation Forum – represented by Guleid Ahmed Jama, submitted a case to the Somaliland’s Constitutional Court, challenging the new Extension of House of Elders. On December 13, the Court rejected the hearing, justifying the National Consultation Forum is not registered body and lacks a legal personality, but their Lawyer and the politicians confirmed that they will resubmit the case another time as ordinary citizens with no organization.

It is a positive move to submit a case to the Constitutional Court to challenge the unconstitutional extension made by the House of Elders.

On December 10th, 2019, President Muse Biihi Abdi, said that the political disagreement between the main political parties are the main reasons of delaying the Elections and he called an immediate meeting of the opposition leaders to solve the current election dispute. But the leaders of Political parties rejected the offer of the president and described the president that he normalized good speeches with great promised but no actions or commitment. The Chairman of UCID Party Faisal Ali Warabe, said, that they will not meet and work with the president till he holds the elections.

LOCAL COUNCILS

The Term of Local Councils Expired at April 29th 2019, their term was never extended; for the last 7 months and 16 days, the local governments including the Mayors were carrying out the day to day activity without having legal mandate. According to Article 111(9) of the Constitution, it is clearly mentioning, when the term of local councils expires to hand over the Executive Secretaries of local councils. Staying in the office, when your term expired and even not having legal mandate, is another bad lesson in Somaliland’s democracy. This will be a very serious issue, if the elected officials can stay the office without a mandate.

GUURTI:

The 82 members of the House of Elders were selected 1997 in a six years term. Since then, they have never re-elected, they made more than 30 extensions of the House of Representatives, their House of Elders, Former Presidents and Local Councils. Less than 10 members of the House of Elders are the original Members who was selected in 1997, all other 72+ are new. Article 59(1) of the Constitution requires that the age of the MPs of the House of Elders to be 45 and above, but there are new members who joined the House of Elders who are under 45 years old, and that is unconstitutional.

WOMEN AND YOUTH REPRESENTATION.

There is only 1 female member of the 164 members of the parliament. Youth are not allowed to join both House, because of the Age Restriction. Also, both Houses does not represent the Youth who was born in 1991 and after. For example, if you were born in 1991, when Somaliland Declared it’s Independence, you were 6 years old in 1997 when the House of Elders were selected and 14 years old when the House of Representatives were elected in 2005. So, both Houses of the Parliament doesn’t Represent the Somaliland Youth who were born in 1991 and after.

That is why, it is urgently needed to solve the current election disputes to give a chance that Youth, Women and other marginalized groups to elect their representatives in both Houses of the Parliament and Local Councils.

MAIN CHALLENGES OF UPCOMING ELECTIONS:

  • National Electoral Commission: New NEC was nominated, and the House of Representatives approved 6 of the 7 Members. Opposition Parties rejected the current New NEC and they are accusing that the chairman of the new NEC was an active member of Kulmiye, the Ruling Pary. But the deputy Chair of Kulmiye refused the claims of the opposition parties.

 

  • The Current Political Extension: The Former NEC Proposed a 10 months timeline of preparation and holding the elections, but now Guurti Extended 2 years time while the opposition parties opposed.

 

  • Election Bill: On June 2018, the President submitted the Election bill to the House of Representatives, but till now, the House never debated the bill. House Interior Committee said that they finished the bill but waiting a political decision about the seat allocation to approve it.

 

  • Seat Allocation: Different regions of Somaliland are complaining about the current seat allocation formula of the House of Representative, which is based on the 1960 seats in Somaliland Parliament, they are lobbying to re-distribute the seats of the House.

  • Women and Minority Groups Quota, which is needed to approve it.

 

  • Post Conflict Election Symptoms: Still there is a two years old political division in Somaliland’s political parties’ supporters. To hold a peaceful election, it is needed to unify the voters to peacefully elect their representatives and local councilors and can accept the results.

 

  • Armed Militias and conflicts in Sanaag Region are needed special attention to solve it, because it is affecting the polling stations in that area.

 

Published by

Election Monitoring Office (EMO)

Center for Policy Analysis (CPA)

The Election Monitoring Office of CPA was launched in January 2017, to closely monitor and follow up for the election related activities happening in Somaliland and to provide a briefing papers, recommendations and reports. The Office produces a series of reports about the challenges of Elections, timelines, updates about the Election Laws, etc.

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