Somaliland elections: Opportunites and way forward

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Somaliland elections will take place in 2020 after a consensus has been reached between the three political parties of Kulmiye, Waddani and UCID. The newly created electoral commission is now working on a timetable towards the preparation of the long-awaited city government and parliamentary elections, which has been delayed several times due to technical issues and misunderstandings between the political parties.

Challenges:

There are growing complaints coming from the western regions of Somaliland, especially the “Gadabursi” clan. They argue that it is unfair to have only 13 representatives in the parliament. Furthermore, the ethnic minority clans and women are seeking approval of the quota to have their representatives in the parliament as well (Yusuf, 2018).

Earlier in 2015, the constitutional court issued the decision to elect the parliament members that of 82 representatives that were based on the 1960s parliamentary elections results of 33 from the six districts multiplied by 2.5. As a result, the President of Dahir Rayale Kahin and late parliamentarians implemented this decision reached by the constitutional court to facilitate the parliamentary election process and held the parliamentary elections in 2015.

However, Awdal and Salal elders, elites and intellectuals had discussed with President Silanyo this concern and they clearly stated in 2016 that they would not ever accept any kind of future parliamentary elections that will allocate only 13 parliamentarians for the upcoming elections to Awdal and Salal regions. Still, this issue is going on while the “Gadabursi” clan elders held consecutive meetings and shared their concerns with the public through the local media(ADAL MEDIA, 2020).

Besides, Somaliland women and minority clans have shown the same concern of seeking a quota to maintain equality and have their voice in the upcoming parliament. To maintain equality and ensure active participation of Somaliland women in domestic politics, Somaliland need to adhere to the Beijing Platform for Action that recommends eliminating all obstacles hindering women’s economic empowerment to allow them to enjoy their economic rights and achieve fair access and participation in economic structures and policies (Tungaraza, 2007, p. 30).

All of these issues are notable challenges that Somaliland will face while the President and his cabinet sent these concerns to the constitutional court to reach a decision again on the issue. The only solution for these complaints is to conduct a country level census and open the constitution that does not mention any quota or clan-based power-sharing system. Therefore, conducting census is not suitable now and any kind of political disagreement between the Somaliland regions, clans and women who are advocating for the quota will delay the planned councils and parliamentary elections.

Opportunities:

Somaliland political parties and the President should call on national level talks and invite Awdal and Salal regions elders and intellectuals, minority clans and women that have complaints about the current parliamentary election system. Besides, political parties and government should involve civil society organizations, independent politicians, researchers, and institutions for policy analysis to consulting on approaches for addressing and resolving those outstanding concerns and problems.

Furthermore, lawyers and the University of Hargeisa Institute for Peace & Conflict Studies need to research the root causes, its legality and suggest ways to end this case. The Academy for Peace and Development must also be involved in these conflict resolution efforts to contribute their experience in solving such kind of problems.

Way Forward:

His Excellency President Bihi needs to look at concerns of Somaliland citizens and re-structure his current government to sustain our democracy, stability and prosperity and, therefore, should make necessary reforms to increase the number of government officials from those complaining regions, clans and women.

On the other hand, the people of Somaliland who brought these reforms up in our power-sharing structure (government) must ensure that stability, security and national well-being are sustained. Nevertheless, boycotting elections will not bring democracy and solve our domestic problems, but the suggested ideas would offer Somaliland, sustainable solutions and will ensure continued democracy and statehood.

References

ADAL MEDIA. (2020, August 12). Boorama: Nuxurka Warmurtiyeedkii ka soo baxey Shirkii Beelaha Gadabuursi ee Awood Qaybsiga. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/B3op833dLTU

TUNGARAZA, M. B. (2007). WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOMALILAND. Retrieved from https://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/default/files/Womens-human-rights-in-Somaliland.pdf

Yusuf, H. (2018, August). The Saga of the Pursuit of Women’s Quota in Somaliland. Retrieved from https://soradi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Chapter-7-The-Saga-of-the-Pursuit-of-Womens-Quota-in-Somaliland.pdf

Khalid Sahid Dirir – Senior Political Analyst

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