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Lost Faith In The System
Written by: Ibrahim Saed Hussein
Since declaring its independence from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland has set up its own Government institutions, written its own laws and constitution, and held credible elections. No government in the world has yet recognized Somaliland’s independence and for 18 years the territory has been left in legal limbo—a country that does not exist. During that time Somaliland has gone a long way towards building security and developing democratic institutions of governance.
Somaliland is unrecognized state that managed holding three elections peacefully without registering the voters; among those elections, the first presidential election includes, which its results was ruled by the court verdict. It was believed that Somaliland finished a clannish based political process and moved to ballot based power climbing. This political system promotes individualistic participation and diminishes collective representation based on the clan. Also the introduced democratic model didn’t omit absolutely for the traditional governance system which is based on clan values and it is final product of combination of tradition, religious and western democratic governance system. The new system was expected it would have been improving the overall governance mechanism in the country as well as socio-economic indicators.
Since the last parliamentary election, a number of political and electoral related disputes were observable and gradually they were increasing and escalating. The conflicting parties polarized new tactics that enables them precede the arguments from their own perspectives; It was reported that Somaliland witnessed more then ten electoral disputes variant from one to another but have common factor of pursuing each one’s own needs, concerns and interest. from the first arguable decision between opposition and ruling party was related to the nomination of a new electoral body, since then the conflicts wasn’t de-escalating until recently over the abandonment of voter registration lists and the expulsion of Inter-peace staff person from the country. On the other hand, this tension is the worst, it happened at crucial period while Somaliland presidential election was due to happen in two months time.
However, the existing pre-election disputes and political conflicts attracted the eyes of the local and external stakeholders. These tensions are being perceptive to Somaliland stability is in dangerous, rather then expecting it was improving socially and economically. Since last parliamentary election was held peacefully, Somaliland witnessed a wave of political dispute which was involved by political parties and ruling party, NEC or donor agencies. However, the election related disputes could happen at any stage in any place of the world Regardless the strength and weakness for particular state. But, the consequence will vary over the states; the volatile states like Somaliland will likely having severe consequence rather then established countries;- it would have been a threat to rule of law, governance structure, peace and stability and human right record. If not taken proper measures at righteous time, for Somaliland it wouldn’t be possible maintain its stability as well as the process of democratization. The repetitive and escalated arguments are symptoms predicting incredibility of the elections that lacks fairness and freedom.
What are the current election related problems in Somaliland?
Somaliland witnessed number of election related crisis. Key stakeholders were playing an influential role for the existence of the crisis. Precisely, Key stakeholders lost their faith in the process of democratic governance and they failed to integrate the framework of governance system with human right, democracy and peace context. The escalation for the current crisis were contributed by the ineffectiveness and weak institutional capacity regardless to Executives, legislatives and judiciary and also opposition political parties, they operate under poor governance conditions.
In this case, Somaliland electoral stakeholders are identified all interesting parties that have either have direct engagement or indirect involvements, Donors, Somaliland Governments, Political parties, citizens, civil society organizations, supreme courts, legislatives, international observers etc. therefore, except the international observers which engaging the elections at voting day, but all other above groups have contributed the disputes escalating that endangers the stability and the rule and law.
Somaliland Government and ruling party
I deliberately focus on this article the contribution of donors, political parties, NEC, legislatives, supreme courts and Somaliland governments to the escalation of the electoral based conflicts. First I should start looking down what the Somaliland government has contributed to the current political crisis?
Somaliland government failed to frequently hold periodic elections. The current government’s term expired and was extended accordance to a provision in the constitution that is disputable. During its mandate, it arrived into power through consensus reached by key stakeholders which was mediated by elders and intellectual people from Somaliland. It should be praised for the losers accepting for court verdict as well as consensus built and substituted it for surviving peace in Somaliland. The government of Somaliland was to be there to serve not to rule, it presently seems that it encoded vice-verse; it is there because of to rule not to serve. I am trying to identify the role played by the Somaliland government and its ruling party for the escalation of the election based conflicts?
If the responsibility of the current problem is to be divided for its stakeholders the government would receive the big portion. This reflects to my beliefs, I know that for other stakeholders aren’t pleading guilty free. Enlightening how significantly the government should be blamed for the existing political crisis particularly on voter’s lists. The constitutional responsibility for the government includes holding periodic election at every five years once. This means that the financial, Technical and logistical arrangements for the elections should be available in order the elections to be hold periodically. It is constitutional, it wasn’t stated that international community should contribute financially and technically to Somaliland electoral process in order to be conducted a periodically. There isn’t a way that Somaliland government should avoid to be blamed that it failed to conduct a periodic elections without relying on the financial support of the international community.
The voter registration task is like a project which has several progressive cycle that needs before passing the next cycle the first one should come into finishing ; if one cycle isn’t finished or omitted before it get finished, it wouldn’t be possible for the project achieving its goals. Vice verse, if one cycle is considered has more significance then others the project will fail. Therefore, it wouldn’t be possible for Somaliland government argue that the production for the voter’s list isn’t reflecting to free and fair election while the process was abused at initial stage before the government’ eyes. It failed to ensure and monitor that actual registration tasks are in compliant with the objectives of the registration. Therefore, if the registration has failed produce a list that is fair, because it is a mistake that was done in the process of registering the voters.
Why the government shouldn’t abandon the registration process while it was reported multiple registering is undertaking or underage registration? The same is true for the NEC why they don’t suspend temporarily for the tasks of registration after Sahel? Why Sahel wasn’t considered as pilot for the project and should be reviewed by all key stakeholders for the outcome before they go into other regions? Why inter-peace shouldn’t be expelled from the country while the staffs of the registration company were withdrawn from Somaliland? Why presently they are expelled? If all these interventions weren’t taken, they are indicator showing that registration failed at initial stage not its final stage of production of final lists. It is the responsibility and duty for the government safeguard the interest of the country as the president currently emphasizing that abandonment in the registration safes from Somaliland fall post election conflicts.
If the above measures were taken at its convenient time, by now, we would have fair registered voters and accurate lists that allow us hold a credible presidential election. Somaliland then becomes a model for the post conflict countries. The people analyzing the political conflicts in Somaliland argue that the current problem isn’t based on efficiency or effectiveness of the voter registration project, they say it is conflict of interest between opposition political parties and ruling and government party. If the current produced lists was reflective to the interest of government they would have accepted and indicate it as credible and accurate lists, and the same was true for opposition parties.
Therefore, the decision that is abandoned for the lists of registration was irrational and illegal for three main reasons;
I. It is relevance to a particular project cycle, while the project was deviated from its objectives at initial implementation stage; the Somaliland government didn’t engage the process of rectifying to avoid such problem happen at final stages.
II. The approach that decision was reached symbolizes partiality while the key actors was ignored in the process determination.
III. determining going election without registering the voters isn’t a decision that was based on public interest as it was based on preferential results that is unfavor for the ruling party and the decision didn’t consider the negative impact that it could have for the entire nation.
Continue… to opposition party’s contribution to the current crisis