Does Somaliland legislative electoral system need a reform?

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Lewis Center, Ohio—-On May 31, 2021, Somaliland will hold the second legislative elections since 2005, to elect new MP’s. However, the current parochial, bias, divisive electoral process for electing legislators is highly flawed. Therefore, we need a constitutional amendment, or parliament passing statutory laws, or an inclusive independent commission to replace the current entrenched system into a more fairer, constituency based legislative election system, to correct the bias in Somaliland legislative electoral system.

Somaliland’s parliament houses 82 MP’s each of whom represent a sub clan. But the number of voters for each MP varies wildly. The MP’s representing the smallest voters are from Sahel, Awdal and Sanaag regions.; the MP’s with largest voters are found in the Greater Hargeisa/Gabiley region.

For example, in the Greater Hargeisa/Gabiley region, when a 44% of total popular valid vote results into a 24% of the seats in Somaliland parliament ( 20 seats out of 82 MP’s) , there is something terribly wrong with our so-called electoral system it purports to represent. That is not a fair system, that is totally un-democratic. How could anyone govern with a clear conscience such a flaw system?

The current legislative electoral system divides people along sub-clans. The manner the party bosses nominate the candidates is a rig system, and the distribution of the seats in the parliament is not fair and undermines democracy, the rule of law, and disenfranchises many voters. If we do not reform the system, the faith people had in the election will fade away.

The Somaliland constitution does not clarify the number of voters required to be in the parliament.

Since Somaliland parliament is made up of 82 MP’s, we should have 82 constituencies with defined geographic location and equal number of voters. The representative must represent both people and land.

We should use a Quota that is the number of votes that is entitled for a candidate or a party for a seat in the parliament—can be established once it is known many valid votes have been casted. There are 82 MP’s in Somaliland parliament, for instance, so if a total 550,000 voters cast valid votes, the quota is 550,000 divided by 82, or 6,707. The higher the turn out, the higher the quota. As the number of valid votes increases, the number of votes a candidate to obtain a seat in the parliament increases proportionally.

While using modern GPS technology we can precisely come out with an electoral map of the 82 constituencies in Somaliland. Each voter living in a village, township, or major town, would have a representative. The representative would represent all people living in his or her constituency regardless of clan, tribe, gender, or income. By contrast, the current system, a representative only represents his/her sub clan. Moreover, the candidates are campaigning to get only the votes. from his or her sub clans. We do not have political campaigns that are based on ideas, policies, or platforms.

The process of selecting the nominees is also corrupt, and highly flawed. The corrupt party bosses usually manipulate and decide who is going to be a nominee for the legislative seats, with little input from the clan elders. The voters have been cut out completely from the nomination process.

There are reports of some party bosses taking bribes up to $20,000 to be a nominee. The party bosses dictate like Soviet style elections the list of the nominees. This flawed system must have to change, if we want to become a true functioning democratic country.

For example, if a death occurs to an MP, a special election should be held for that constituency and not be chosen from a Soviet style list on the pockets of the party bosses as the current system does.

We must stand up against a system that wastes and misrepresents our democratic vote and will, and we must speak out against corruption in the electoral process. We must fight and demand changes to make the whole process of electing legislators a better and fairer. Every voter must vote at the constituency that he or she lives and works at. We must build communities and not rival clans.

Today, there are townships, for example like the farming Arabsiyo constituency and surrounding townships, 40 km west of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, with a population of close to 20,000 people or Large swaths of the country that have no representation. This is unacceptable.

People are tired of a rigged political system that effectively turned Somaliland into a monopoly between two rival political parties and whose apparatchiks change roles between and within the parties at will. Without allowing more parties or independent candidates to compete in every legislative or presidential election, the situation will be akin to doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different result. That is a dictionary definition of insanity.

I would urge the Arabsiyo communities to come together and fight against the three-party monopoly rigged election process system. What the party bosses in Hargeisa are doing is bad for Somaliland and Arabsiyo. They do not want a change. The local elders, women groups, politicians, and youth must together in an open and transparent process like a caucus to decide who is going to be the nominee for the upcoming 2021 legislative elections.

United we win. Divided we lose. That is what Bibi and his Kulmiye apparatchiks want. We must send a signal to the Kulmiye party that Arabsiyo can make history by becoming the first constituency to hold a political caucus to elect a nominee. With Allah willing, money, bribes, and manipulation to corrupt the integrity of the election will end in Arabsiyo.

Ali Mohmed

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