Somaliland election: local move but not acknowledgment By: Ahmed Osman Jama
Somaliland has declared its break away from rest of Somalia on 18 may 1991 after more than one decade of armed struggle led by Somali national movement (SNM). Since Somaliland announced its independence nor international community or state has not recognized but it has familiarized homemade democracy and traditional reconciliation process with very limited international support. Somaliland celebrated its 20th anniversary on May 2010 and created well-functioning state built as modern states that consists legislative body, executive organ and judicial branch.
The state building and formation of strong government institution has been initiated in 2001 where constitutional referendum took place most of regions and districts. The citizens voted this constitution as a result of more than 97%. Starting from the constitutional referendum Somaliland begins to transform from clan based government to constitutional government which provided citizens opportunity to elect state leaders.
To implement supremacy of constitution Somaliland started multiparty system early 2002 where new political associations has been created to contest the first local council election happened in Dec, 2002 where six political associations contested which were UDUB, KULMIYE, UCID, HORMOOD, SAHAN and ASSAD. This election is also qualified three national political parties which succeeded by UDUB, KULMIYE and UCID.
When Somaliland held local municipal election in 2002 it started serious elections as presidential election happened in 2003, parliamentary election took place on Sept, 2005 and second presidential election held on 2010.
Somaliland Municipal election in 2012
As mentioned above the local council election of 2002 three political parties qualified to become national parties which were UDUB, KULMIYE and UCID. During presidential election in 2010 the ruling party of KULMIYE pledged to the public that political associations will be reopened to enhance democracy system. Somaliland president nominated early 2011 committee that advices reopening of political parties. The committee collected data that citizens willing to reopen political parties. The parliament enacted law No.14 of political associations to create new political associations and president appointed national registration & approval commission of political associations as states by law No.14. The commission of registration and approval of political parties started to reshuffle more than 15 new political associations established throughout the regions and short listed six new political associations and three former national parties.
Organizing of the election
The national electoral commission mandated by the electoral laws to organize the local council election. The commission declared that the election scheduled to happen on 28th Nov, 2012 and seven political parties contested which were KULMIYE, UCID, WADANI, XAQSOOR, DALSAN, RAYS and UMADDA. The election has been funding two sources where two third from the donors and one third from Somaliland government. This shows that the ownership of the election is not complete since the state cannot paid its budget and its one of the weaknesses of Somaliland that ten years later to dependent international donors.
Campaign of the election
The national electoral commission officially announced that the campaign started on 28th Oct, 2012 and each political party has specific day to rally throughout the regions. The political party printed tremendous posters, stickers and banners printed by names and numbers of the candidates. The commission planned more than 1800 polling stations of local councilors of 21st districts where more than 2300 candidates contesting 353 seats of 21st districts. The electoral commission nominated monitoring board to oversee the standard campaigns of competing political associations. The main observations of the campaign include school children and under persons participated the rally days of political associations which resulted that many children miss their daily classes. Another reflection was that government officials used public property for ruling party campaign as monitoring board reported third week of the campaign.
Youth and women candidates
The number of youth candidates in the election increased compared to the former elections where more than 34% of the total candidates; this is due to the removal of legal barriers. The age of candidates of 2002 municipal election was 35 years old but this time it is reduced to 25 years old which provided great opportunity for youth. The women candidates were also increased although there is no removal of legal barriers as women quota. President Ahmed Silanyo nominated committee to advise him of women participation of decision making body of state organs. The committee proposed bill called women quota that provides fixed seats for each state organs and the president submitted the proposal to the parliament and House of Representatives dismissed the bill on Sept, 2012 to debate it by the parliament which reduced the expectation of women to win direct election of local councilors or MPs.
On 28th Nov, 2012 the election started throughout the regions of Somaliland where more than 1840 polling stations are assigned to place ballot papers. The election happened peacefully and without interruption except an incident in Hudun district of north east Lasanood of Sool region. The voters were in long lines early morning. The voters were enthusiastic and interesting to vote their candidates. The main observations of the Election Day including police soldiers fired bullets on sky to disperse crowd queues which some areas threatened the lives of the voters. The voters were attempting multiple voting as much as possible because the ink used was soft and easily cleaned up. The process of multiple voting seemed organizing scenario which all contesting parties informed their supporters because each political association involved double voting. I have seen some candidates formed mobile voters and voting different polling stations. The government closed borders and prohibited vehicle movements except vehicles which were the plate numbers of national electoral commission (NEC). Unfortunately the candidates carrying their supporters vehicles marked with NEC plate numbers which increased the momentum of multiple voting. There were also supporters used observers ID to pass long lines and have accessed to vote more than 5 polling stations. This problem of multiple voting resulted dismissal of voter registration ID.
Election and international community
The election has been participated by international observers consisted of more than 50 persons of 18 countries. The observers dispersed throughout the regions and oversee the standard and voting process of citizens. The international observers issued preliminary press conference on 29th Nov, 2012 and highlighted that the election happened peacefully and nationwide participation especially female and youth groups. The international observers also highlighted some concerns including apparent attempts at underage and multiple voting.
International media and municipal election
The role of international media during the preparation of the municipal election was too limited. During the election day the number of international media presented in Somaliland is very confined and I remember only one team from BBC preparing documentary film. I watched most of international TVs as Aljazeera , BBC, CNN etc to see any coverage about the election but it did not existed therefore, let me call Somaliland election is local move but not international acknowledge to reward them what Somaliland people sacrificed voluntarily more than two decades as state building, stabilization, democracy and peace building.
Ahmed Osman Jama
Afeef: Aragtida maqaalku waa mid u gaar ah qoraaga, anaguna hadaanu Oodweynenews nahay waxaanu leenahay Magacaagu yuu noqon mid xumaan ka marag kaca, haka talin masiibiyo wax makhluuqa kalla dilla.