Advocacy of Electoral Reform

On 18 May 1991, after suffering 21 years of the brutal military dic- tatorship of General Siyad Barre and experiencing three decades of marginalization as part of the united Somali Republic, Somalil- and unilaterally reclaimed its pre-union independence from So- malia. In the following years, a nascent democratic system was established. A National Charter was approved by consensus soon after the withdrawal of the union, in which it was agreed that government would be based on a system of power-sharing be- tween clans. This transitional arrangement was then superseded by a national constitution of the republic, which was confirmed near-unanimously by a national referendum in 2001, in which 97% of voters approved. With its approval, the constitution legally ushered in the progression for a clan-based politics to a multiparty democratic system.

Since then, Somaliland has held six successful democratic elections, including three presidential elections (in April 2003, June 2010 and November 2017), one parliamentary election (in September 2005) and two local council elections (in December 2002 and November 2012). All aforementioned elections were conducted in a peaceful and inclusive manner, a very rare occurrence in this volatile Horn of Africa region, which is overwhelmingly dominated by long-sitting, undemocratic and authoritarian leaders. Beyond that, in 2016, Somaliland conducted the most advanced

voter registration processes in Africa, according to Abdikadir Iman Warsame, Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Somaliland, in which an iris-based biometric system was used for one of the first times anywhere in the world.

Although Somaliland has been exercising multiparty democracy for almost 18 years now, it has in many ways failed to institutionalize this system. Of the several major setbacks and shortcomings of the democratic process, one of the most serious and intractable is repeated election delays, in which extensions are granted to the term periods of Somaliland’s representative institutions. Such delays have occurred at all levels of government, from the executive and legislative to the local.

According to the revisions of the election timelines, Somaliland’s National Election Commission, become the only institution that never being extended their term during the last 17 years. The House of Elders extended their own term in 10 times. They were selected in clan conference held in Hargeisa on 1997. The House of Elders also extended 10 times extended the term of the House of Representatives, 7 times the term of the President, and 3 times for the term of Local councils. The Political Parties delay their Central Committee conferences different times.