By: Ismail Ahmed
Somaliland took the system of democratization and exercised the multiparty system for the last couple of decades. This tiny, unrecognized de facto state, which locates in a very volatile region hindered by prolonged political turmoil, a massive economic crisis, religious fanaticism, external interventions, and proxy wars, had tremendously succeeded to establish a peaceful democratic system and well-grounded security institutions.
Somaliland is commonly perceived as “the diamond in the mud”, in reference to the security and democratic status of the neighboring states. In 2002, more than fifteen political associations fairly competed to become a national party, as the constitution prescribed. The majority of these political associations were led by renowned political figures and veterans. Undoubtedly, the people had little concepts about a multiparty system and elections apart from some of the elderly people who had minor experience on elections or voted during the elections of the first civilian government of Somalia in the 1960s.
Transformation from informal election to one man one vote election encountered a fierce political resistance and skepticisms by some politicians who viewed that it is too early to in place a multiparty system.
However, existed government had impressively managed to hold both political association elections and first ever presidential election in 2003 which the elected president won a narrow margin.
Subsequently, Somaliland adopted successive elections (three presidential, two parliamentary and three local elections), these elections run into challenges and setbacks.
The gloaming and glamorous prospects of the country’s democracy was overshadowed by subsequent delays without proper procedure and excuse. Term extension, particularly presidential tenure, results in political grievances and inflammatory outrages.
In 2008, a presidential term extension sparked political tension and raised security concerns at the time. Prominent opposition party members of (Kulmiye, at that time, were alleged to have mobilized a clan militia to destabilize the national security. However, there was no clear sign of any security threats caused by the alleged figures. Although, the concern was at the peak.
Currently, the unreasonable two-year presidential and five-year upper house term extension have explicitly dimmed the nation’s quest for recognition and transformation of democracy. Perhaps, it was predicted by many political academia that an unnecessary extension would occur. Giving an alert to prevent an unconstitutional extension has been the center of the debate for the past years. This did not stop extensions to happen as habitual without clinically analyzing its political repercussions and backlash.
Argument of pro-extensionists revolves around that former presidents had been extended their tenures and current president is indifferent from his predecessors. Contrarily, anti-extensionists view any sort of delay to the election as unconstitutional and undemocratic unless valid procedures are followed.
International communities and friends of Somaliland expressed their concerns and distress towards any postponement of elections. Although, the combined elections held in Somaliland in 2021 had attracted the attention of international actors and brought in diplomatic gains. Thus, the ongoing political impasse is quite evident to have weakened the momentum of securing the national interest including political stabilization and diplomatic engagements.
Legalization of term extension depicts imaginary lines and political masterpiece that successors will try to adopt and consider as legitimate act to surpass their designated tenure. Any unlawful acts diminish the democracy and prompts up insecurity, conflict strive and endless political grievances.
The social cleavage and political divergences are deep-rooted into tribes. In Somaliland, politics and clannism are almost impossible to be separated. As a result of this, prolongation of election terms can flare up a conflict at any time unless rational decisions are reached. One of the biggest threats towards the peace and decades of security in Somaliland is, the intermingling of traditional elders with politics who have undeniable role on clan discretion.
However, there is a long history and attested resolution which Somaliland has implemented to overcome any kind of latent and confrontational conflicts in the past and that is national consensus. This is the secrecy behind Somaliland’s marvelous peace and security within a conflict ravaged region of HOA.
To sum up, it is mandatory to learn from old mistakes and political torts. Realistically, there has to be a constitutional review to avoid delays in elections and comprehensively understand when it is legitimate to make extension.
About the Author
Ismail Ahmed holds a Master Degree in international relations and MA in leadership and Management. He is serving as Executive Director of Somaliland Journalists Association since 2021.For the past 10 years, he has been a regular lecturer of politics , development studies and social work related courses. .
Ismail has enormous experience on elections and electoral process and served as senior staff of elections in Somaliland. He is also a political commentator on HOA affairs. Twitter :- @ismaelAhmmad
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Horndiplomat editorial policy.
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