19 years ago, when the people of Somaliland approved the current constitution which established a multiparty democracy. During the first circle of the democratization process, Somaliland succeeded to held different elections, including the first local council elections which happened in 15th December of 2002, then within six months (14 April, 2003) the first National Electoral Commission held the presidential election and the sitting president won less than 100 votes from the opposition party that accepted the result and the third election, which was the parliamentary election, occurred within two and half years (29 September, 2005). All those elections happened within three years, without having any previous election experience but the main reason why the elections happened in a short time was that the political leaders were committed to host elections.
The next cycle of the democratization process faced extensions and election delays, while the third cycle of the Somaliland Democracy is in a deadlock road, because the elected officials are not committed to maintain the democratization process as the election laws and constitution require. For those 19 years, there were two bad lessons in Somaliland’s democratization process, which are, Extensions and remaining in office after the term expires, even without having any legal mandate. All political leaders promise publicly that they are ready for elections, but mostly no actions followed.
The President of Somaliland Muuse Biihi Abdi, argued that the Somaliland Democratization process cannot continue as it is now, when the elected officials are not giving an opportunity to the citizens to elect their representatives “… Somaliland has a constitution. Both Houses of Parliament, the President and local councils are responsible for protecting the constitution and the rule of law. to protect the supremacy of law, those elected institutions must abide the constitution and other laws. The constitution limited their term into five years. so, to avoid the destruction of our constitution, our nation exists longer and to develop our country, it is a must to hold elections. The current barriers of holding elections are very small issues, all political parties and public are agreed to hold elections, also all members of the parliament know that their term ended and they need to be elected, so, why can’t we hold elections? who is between us? are there an external actors against our elections or are we crazy [people] who can’t solve these simple election disputes?” said the president of Somaliland H.E. Muuse Biihi Abdi and he promised the solution of the current election disputes as soon as possible “… the current election disputes are very simple, and we will solve it together, it is not to destruct our constitution such simple election disputes” added the President during his speech of the 26th Inauguration of Somaliland Army.
Both Opposition leaders, Chairmen of Waddani Party Abdirahman Abdullahi Irro, and UCID Party Faisal Ali Waraabe publicly stated that they are ready for elections, but questioned the commitment of the government, also the speaker of the parliament Baashe Mohamed Farah said that the members of the house of parliament are ready for elections any time, just they are waiting, he said, to hold elections and to elect a new House, to vacate the office.
Every political leader in Somaliland needs elections to happen; everyone is promising and showing publicly a commitment, but no actions followed. the other question is, the election disputes are very simple, for the last two years, the political leaders failed to solve the National Electoral Commission dispute, and still that challenge exists, they met more than 40 times to discuss how to solve, but it is still not solved. So, as the president said many times, the problem is very simple, but the main question is, what is wrong? Why can’t the political leaders solve such a simple election dispute? That is the question that Somaliland citizens are asking themselves.
It seems that Somaliland elected officials failed to abide the law, promote democracy, listen the concern of the citizens, fulfill the political commitments and to vacate the office when their term ends. Somaliland people elected 487 officials in public offices, all of them, except the president and his vice president, are in the office beyond their elected term. Only the President and his vice president have a legitimate term. Guurti members have been in office nearly 23 years, House of Representative members have been in office nearly 15 years and Local councilors have been in office nearly 7 years. These elected officials have enough justification to remain in office.
Somaliland Local Councils are the birthplace of political parties and they are responsible all social services as article 112 (1) of Somaliland Constitution mentions that the local councils and regional administrations are responsible for providing social services including Health, Education, Electricity, Livestock, Water, local security, telecommunication, etc. So, they are the bridge between the central government and citizens. So, it seems that most of the current local councils failed to deliver their promises and to provide the services to their constituencies, also they are preventing the citizens to elect a new local councils, since they remained in office after their term expired without having any legal mandate. This is against the constitution, the rule of law, the principles and democratic process.
Most of the political leaders of
Somaliland are agreed that something is wrong in Somaliland democracy and it
needs to be fixed, but the political elites have different opinions about the
solution, responsibility and the way out. So, it is the time that Election
stakeholders, leaded by the president office, Political Party leaders,
parliament, National Electoral Commission office, Universities, CSO who are involved in elections, grassroot voices including women
and youth activists and international partners including the donors who invested
in the Democratizations system to come together, reviewing the lessons learned
from the past 19 years, the main challenges faced for the Somaliland’s democratization
process and the way forward. That way forward will need a political commitment,
implementation and financial support from Somaliland government, Political
Leaders and the international friends. That is one of the best ways to renew
the stuck democratization process. The outcome of that high-level conference can
focus on a reform of electoral system, having some sort of accountability if
elected leaders fail to leave office, clear responsibility of holding
elections, more democratic and transparent political parties, strong and more
independent judiciary system that citizens and pressure groups can use to
challenge when elected officials violate the constitution, more inclusive
governance system that youth, women and other marginalized groups are included,
since citizens elect a political party to lead the country.
From 2001 up to 2005, Somaliland Approved the Constitution and other election laws, established both National Electoral Commission and Election Monitoring Boards and held nearly 3 elections within 3 years.
From 2006 to 2017, Somaliland hosted nearly 3 elections, but there were more than 20 extensions happened during this period.
From 2018 up to present
February 2nd, 2020 in Hargeisa