Democracy in Somaliland hijacked by ruling party

De-facto Somaliland set to become de-facto single party state

Democracy in Somaliland hijacked by ruling party

Women queue at a polling station in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
Women queue at a polling station in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

2009-03-26 16:21:01 – Officials from the House of Elders and the House of Representatives of Somaliland are in discussion to extend the term of president Rayaale for the third time running within 13 months.

The news comes amid yet another failure for an ambitious and suspect high tech computerised polling system introduced by Election Commissioners who all by now have resigned leaving the commission weak and fractured to carry out its objectives and duties. The Commission is unlikely to have a capacity to execute such technical requirements for the foreseeable future rendering the country

ungovernable by democratic means.

Military police were requested by the concerned ruling UDUB party chaired by president Rayaale for “security” purpose although officials from the House of Elders protested at the presence of such forces accusing the president of coercion and “show of force” against vulnerable elders. The UDUB party has been in power since the creation of an apparent quasi multi-party system in 1998 founded by the then transitional president of Somaliland Egal.

Major opposition party Kulmiye who sought to boycott any entertainment of extending the presidential term yet again without proper due process and scrutiny of the Election commissioners were again sidelined. Kulmiye proposed the country to be put under transitional status possibly led by current non-partisan activist Edna Aden until elections are held. Past extensions were passed by the House of Elders without proper consultations with opposition parties preventing them from exercising their legal right.

The resultant discussion is expected to extend Rayaale’s term until early 2010. Both the president and his vice president will automatically extend their terms under such circumstances. Critics say such unelected members of the House of elders make it easier for the ruling party to interfere with legislation procedures and allow the ruling party to accumulate wealth before their term. The majority members of the House of Elders were hand picked by the ruling party and president since elections in 1998.

Morale in the main cities is low due to poverty of ideas from a ruling party whose only accomplishments has been the cutting of ribbons during launches of private enterprises belonging to overseas Somaliland natives or charity groups. Students in Erigavo city angrily protested at the Minister of education during a visit to a construction site for two schools provided by EU and USAID for local people. The students cited the absence of local education authorities and proper facilities for their examinations. Schools in Somaliland are issued with books supplied by UNICEF Somalia forcing them to abandon Somaliland’s political reality as all reference of Somaliland’s existence are removed by UNICEF unlike its accommodation to Palestinian concerns.

President Rayaale was a former member of the Marxist party of former Somali Democratic Republic known as “Kacaanka” led by the then dictator Mohamed S Barre. Vice president Yasin holds Canadian citizenship and moved from Toronto to envisage a career in the UDUB party. Somaliland Police forces who often take direct orders from the president usually fire live rounds at protestors during rallies despite trainings provided for them by United Nations Development Programmes for Somalia to prevent such malpractices and crimes.

Shuun Isaaq