TESTING THE SOMALILAND’s 20 YEARS OLD DEMOCRACY

This May of 2021 is a very historic month. It is the 30th anniversary[1] of Somaliland’s Statehood, the 20th anniversary[2] of Somaliland’s Multiparty Democracy, and the first time to hold two elections together. After 10 years of delay for the House of Representative’s Elections[3] and three years and six months delay for the Local Council Elections, finally, Somaliland is holding these important Elections on May 31st, 2021. The upcoming elections are vital for the democratic process of Somaliland people because it is the first time that Somaliland is holding a parliamentary election since 2005. The youth generation who are under 30 years old, who are the majority of the population, have never got an opportunity to elect their House of Representatives members[4], so, this time, the youth generation of Somaliland will get the chance to elect their House Representatives. On the other hand, only one female is in the House of Representatives, and the minority groups have no representation at all. So, these elections are very crucial for the Women, Youth, and Minority Groups.

Read here the Full Report:

For the last two decades, Somaliland held six elections of one person one vote,[5] the referendum of the constitution and three advanced voter registrations. Somaliland’s Voter Registration became one of the most advanced voter registrations in the world to secure and increase the integrity of the elections.[6]

798 candidates are contesting the upcoming Elections including 552 Local Council candidates and 246 Parliamentary Candidates. 28 female candidates and 5 candidates from the Gabooye clans (Minority groups) are included the final list from the National Electoral Commission (NEC). The 552 Local Council candidates are contesting 220 seats from 20 Electoral Districts.

NEC increased the number of Polling Stations from 1,642[7] to 2,709 polling stations, due to the COVID19 pandemic and allowing the voters to have enough space for social distancing. 1,065,847 voters registered to cast their vote. Comparing to the 2017 presidential Elections, the number of registered voters increased 66%[8]. More than 30,000 people are expected to work during the Election day including NEC staff, Party Agents, Security Officers, Domestic Observers, and International Observers. 

Somaliland is one of the most expensive elections in Africa, every vote cost nearly $20. The president of Somaliland Muuse Biihi Abdi recommended a comprehensive electoral reform after this election, called that the election stakeholders to discuss how to minimize the cost of Elections and holding it timely.[9]

Summary:

  • The National Electoral Commission succeeded to implement the Voter Registration Process and the Preparation of the combined Elections within 9 months with overcoming all challenges.
  • For the last four months, the Election Monitoring Office (EMO) recorded that 10 candidates were arrested, 6 of them from UCID Party, 3 from Kulmiye and 1 from Waddani. Two female candidates from Waddani and UCID targeted and issued their warrant of arrest. The EMO also recorded the detention of 15 supporters of two parliamentary candidates from Awdal Region. These detentions from the security forces are alarming, even though the election stakeholders discussed and reached a consensus.[10]
  • On September 3rd, 2020, the three Political Parties signed a voluntary quota to include 18 females and three minority group candidates in the parliamentary candidate list. Only UCID fulfilled their promise and included six female candidates in their parliamentary list. Both Kulmiye and Waddani failed to include the required six female candidates in their list[11]. Also, only Waddani included one Minority Candidate in their Parliamentary list, while UCID and Kulmiye failed to include any.
  • The EMO recorded concerns of voter card collections in some areas of Hargeisa and eastern regions, targeting the areas of the minority group voters, involved by powerful officers and monetary candidates.
  • The EMO Recorded that, articles of the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct and the Election Law[12] were violated.
  • The COVID19 awareness raising in election need to increase. Still the voters did not have much information related to the Election Campaign Safety Protocols.

Since the campaign is starting, the EMO recorded concerns from the Opposition candidates related to the use of the public resources to the Election Campaign, as the Code of Conduct requires, the President did not issue three presidential decrees, prohibiting the use of government resources to Election Campaign, that Civil Servants not involve the Election Campaign and that the Government agencies and commanders to closely work together with NEC.

 


[1] Somaliland reclaimed its independence on May 18, 1991

[2] Somaliland’s Constitutional referendum was held on May 31st, 2001

[3] The current House of Representatives was elected in September 2005, and their term ended in October 2010. For the last 10 years, their term was extended 7 times.

[4] In 2005, the youth generation who was born in 1991 and after, were 14 years old and they were not eligible to vote

[5] Three Presidential Elections, two Local Council Elections and one Parliamentary Elections.

[6] “Somaliland Successfully Launches Voter Registration.” Interpeace, 21 Jan. 2016, www.interpeace.org/2016/01/somaliland-successfully-launches-voter-registration/.

[7] At the 2017 Presidential Elections, the number of Polling stations were 1,642

[8] The number of registered voters increased from 704,089 registered voters of 2017 Elections to 1,065,847 registered voters of the 2021 upcoming elections

[9] Khudbadda Madaxweynaha Somaliland ee Dahfurka Wadada HARGEISA BYPASS – YouTube (7:20)

[10] On May 10th, 2021 the President and the three Political Parties reached an agreement

[11] Kulmiye has 4 female candidates while Waddani has 3 female parliamentarian candidates

[12] Article 26 of the Law No. 91/2020