By: Zakeriye Ahmed, Horn diplomat correspondent
The peaceful protest that Somaliland’s opposition leaders announced turned into violent demonstrations after the police used tear gas and live ammunition against pro-opposition demonstrations, calling the ruling party of Kulmiye to hold the presidential election on November 13.
A press conference held by Somaliland’s police confirmed the death of three civilians and the other injuries. The Internet was cut off in Somaliland regions ahead of planned demonstrations, and metrics show reduced connectivity on multiple operators with a high impact on Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital.
Last night, the interior minister Mohamed Kahin accused the opposition party of Waddani’s presidential candidate Abdirahman Irro that he has connections with arrested soldiers from Mogadishu. Although Abdirahman Irro denied this accusation by saying, “What Ina Kahin said tonight is a lie. He is already used to it, and it is not something new. It is a lie that has no basis, it is a card you have scratched many times but failed. Politics is not a lie and a scam”.
On August 7, Somaliland opposition parties’ representatives submitted a notification letter to the interior minister requesting demonstration permission. During the session, the interior minister asked for a meeting with the opposition party leaders to discuss how they would conduct demonstrations. On August 19, the government released a press statement on opposition demonstrations that will be held on Thursday, 11/08/2022, from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM, in the offices of the opposition parties in the six regions, not the public places.
Somaliland’s government informed the leaders of the opposition parties of WADDANI and UCID to protect their protesters in the designated areas; if the protesters cross the designated areas, the opposition leaders will take responsibility for the demonstrators, per the statement.
International partners stated Somaliland’s situation. “International partners are deeply concerned about reports of public disorder and the excessive use of force during the political demonstrations in Hargeisa, Burao and Erigavo today. We call upon all sides to ensure that both the demonstrations and police response are peaceful and follow the rule of law. We reiterate the need for all sides in Somaliland to engage in constructive dialogue to reach a consensus on a roadmap for elections. Somaliland’s leaders must work together with its people to decide their future and to protect Somaliland’s peace, stability and democracy.”
Somaliland’s disputes started after the government announced that the registration and the political parties’ election should be conducted six months before the parties’ mandate expires, as stipulated by law number 14. The presidential and political parties’ elections are the centre of the crisis. The political crisis circulates a disagreement on which election should conduct first.
The opposition parties argue that the party’s mandate will expire in December, while President Muse Bihi’s term will end in November. So the government should hold a presidential election, and the political parties’ election should come after the presidential election.
Last month, the ruling party of Kulmiye and the leaders of the opposition parties of the Waddani Party and UCID negotiated a settlement to resolve the election crisis, but the efforts have not yielded a result.