February 23, 2023SL ReporterLeave A CommentOn Somaliland Hard Earned Stability At Risk Due To Political Turmoil According To House Of Commons Library
The current political turmoil in Somaliland has placed the country’s hard earned stability at risk according to a report by the International Crisis Gorup.
An accusing finger is being pointed at the government’s failure to give a clear road map for the presidential elections.
In a report by the United Kingdom House of Commons library released on Wednesday expressed concern at the political developments in the self declared independent nation of Somaliland.
“The self-declared Republic of Somaliland has in recent years been lauded for its stability, largely avoiding the violence of Somalia. The UK Government has described Somaliland as a “beacon” for democracy. However, it is currently in political turmoil, and the International Crisis Group think tank says Somaliland’s “hard-earned stability is at risk,” Sid the report.
The presidential elections were scheduled to be held in November 2022 but were postponed.
As a result political tensions emerged between the Government and opposition parties over the sequencing of the presidential elections and the election to decide which political associations would become the three official political parties (Somaliland has a constitutional limit on the number of political parties, designed to promote inter-clan dialogue).
Following the postponement of the presidential election, Somaliland’s Parliament extended President Muse Bihi Abdi’s term of office by two years. The main opposition parties have refused to recognise the extension.
The Centre for Policy Analysis, based in Somaliland, says the current political stalemate over the licencing of political parties is the result of the repeated extension of terms and delays to elections
The UK Government has urged Somaliland’s political actors to “agree on an electoral roadmap.”
The constitution limits the number of political parties to no more than three. The constitution also makes it unlawful for any political party to be based on regionalism or clannism. The selection process for the three political parties eligible to participate in national elections is set in the Law for Regulation of Political Associations and Certification of Political Parties (Law No. 14).
Political associations would compete in local council elections, with the three receiving the most votes eligible to stand for subsequent elections. To allow for changes to parties, in 2011 the law was amended to allow for the registration of new parties every ten years.
In the 2012 local elections, three parties – UCID (the Justice and Welfare party), Kulmiye and Waddani – received the most votes and were licenced as official parties for the next ten years.
The local council election schedule would have had elections in 2017 and again in 2022. The 2017 elections were postponed until 2021, meaning no local council elections in 2022 when the political parties licences expire.
In 2021 Somaliland’s Parliament responded to the problem by amending the law to change how new political associations compete to become parties. Parliament removed the linkage with local council elections, instead creating a direct election for political associations and parties.
Disagreement between the President and Parliament over the amendment resulted in the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Parliament’s amendment. However, when this election for new political parties should take place is a matter of dispute, as the sequencing of the vote with the Presidential election has become an issue. Crisis Group says, “there is no obvious legal mechanism for extending the soon-to-expire party licences beyond ten years.”
During 2022 differences emerged between the Government and opposition parties over the sequencing of the presidential election and the election for political parties. The sequencing matters, International Crisis Group says, because “the ruling party and opposition both see the evolving electoral calendar as central to their political fortunes, and both are trying to control it.”15 Crisis Group says President Bihi and his Kulmiye party are believed to favour holding the party vote first, thinking that their party’s chances will be boosted if newer and potentially lesser experienced parties gained licences.
By contrast, the opposition Waddani and UCID parties favour holding the presidential vote first. According to the Centre for Policy Analysis, this is because they fear potentially losing out to new political associations, and therefore it is in their interest to hold the presidential election first.
Africa Confidential reports that Bihi supporters have created nine political associations to undermine Waddani and UCID. In August 2022 several people were killed when security forces clashed with protestors demanding presidential elections be held in November.
In September, the electoral commission announced the postponement of the presidential election to mid-2023, saying they needed nine months to organise the poll. The commission said the election “is not viable due to time, technical and financial constraints.