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Parliament Reviews Local Gov’ Election Law
Hargeysa, Somaliland, July 14, 2007 (SL Times) – The lower house of Somaliland parliament began last Sunday a debate on making changes to the ‘local-government election law bill’. The debate on the new proposed bill amendment will cover articles relating to the voting system, quotas for women and minority groups in local authority assemblies, candidate registration fee deposits and voter registration criteria.
Twenty three MPs submitted their signatories to the house chair committee for this proposed bill amendment to the ‘local-government election law bill’. The bill was then passed to the select-house committee for internal affairs to review and make their recommendations for the house chamber to debate.
The biggest amendment made to the ‘local-government election law bill’ of 2004 by the select-house committee was the ‘Article 2’ clause which advocates a quota of seats for women and minority groups in local-government assemblies. Tempers rose during debates among MPs arguing for or against Article 2.
Abdul-Aziz Samale, the deputy speaker, filling in as chair warned rowdy MPs several times that they should not interrupt the speeches of other MPs.
The public gallery was taken up by many of the local Somaliland women’s groups and NGOs who champion women related issues as well as the women party members of the major political parties.
The MPs who opposed this new bill argued that ‘Article 22’ of the new bill contradicts ‘Article 8’ of the constitution under clause  which states that “All citizens of Somaliland shall enjoy equal rights and obligations before the law, and shall not be accorded precedence  on grounds of colour, clan, birth, language, gender, property, status, opinion etc.” Opponents of the bill proposed that women and minority groups should contest in local-government elections on equal footing and should not be given special status and priority over others.
Among MPs in favor of this new bill amendment was Khadar A. Hussein, the proprietor of the Ambassador hotel in Hargeysa who said, “I applaud the select-house committee for recommending these amendments to be made to ‘the local-government election law bill’ and I thank them for proposing these changes. It’s about time that we gave women and minority groups the chance to take part in the political decision-making process. The great majority of us MPs were elected by the women, more than 50% of the voters in the local-government, presidential and parliamentary elections were women. I think it’s high time we acknowledge this fact and show our appreciation by endorsing this amendment in the local-government election law bill.”
Meanwhile, the Borama based Awdal region women’s organisation ‘FORUM’ have issued a press statement in support of the clause in ‘Article 2’ of the proposed new bill amendment to the ‘local-government election law bill’, which will put aside a quota of seats in local-government assemblies for women and minority groups in all of Somaliland’s six regions.
The statement read, “FORUM women’s organisation in Awdal region welcomes the initiative to guarantee women and minority groups quotas of councillor seats in local-government authorities. For so long we have been campaigning to get women and in particular the minority groups of Somaliland to be given the chance to have a say in local and national government decision making processes and FORUM and its members are very happy to witness the national parliament of the country taking positive steps towards achieving this goal.”
FORUM Chairwoman, Marwo Wasiro Abdi speaking to Muhammad Omar, Haatuf reporter in Awdal region, said, “we will be so happy as an organization representing the interests of women in Awdal region if parliament passes this new bill. We will see women councillors in all of Awdal region’s district local authorities. We may even see Borama local authority being blessed with a woman mayor. I would also like to thank Nagaad women’s umbrella organisation for constantly campaigning to get our awareness raised in fighting for this issue and uniting us to have a single voice and say ‘No more’ will Somaliland women be invisible in the republic’s political scene”.
Source: Somaliland Times