Somaliland: Legislators Reject Opposition Parties Nominees to the National Elections Commission

Somalis increase breastfeeding

Somalilandsun: The Somaliland Constitutional stipulations that the two national opposition parties must be represented at the National Elections Commission-NEC are yet to be fulfilled.

This follows the rejection of parliament’s House of representative of the two persons nominated by the UCID and Wadani parties as representatives at NEC.

Though both chambers (Guurti-Upper and House of representatives-Lower] of the bi-cameral Somaliland parliament are on a one month’s leave as part of social distancing measures towards Covid-19 prevention, the lower house convened for an urgent and special session with the purpose of approving the two opposition parties nominees.

The two in pursuit of approval as Commissioners at the Somaliland electoral body are  Abdifatah Ibrahim Hasan nominated by UCID and Mahmud Saeed Dalmar from the Wadani party.

During the special session which did not muster the full quorum of 81, the UCID nominee received 29 votes and that of Wadani 31 votes thus both failing  to garner the required 41 votes.

The failure to approve the two makes it untenable to fulfill constitutional stipulations which dictate that 2 of the seven NEC commissioners represent  opposition party’s’, 3 appointed by Guurti, parliament’s upper chamber and 2 by the head of state.

As matters stand now the legality of NEC is in a very fragile legal standing since the opposition parties are not represented since the current commissioners came to office late last year.

The absence of opposition parties representation was due to dispute with the government over some individuals at the body that sprawled to heightened political tensions in the country that were further precipitated by postponement of parliamentary and local council elections.

This dispute was resolved through the inter-parties agreement mediated by the European Union envoy to Somaliland and Somalia Ambassador Nicholas Berlanga in Hargeisa recently.

The ruling Kulmiye and opposition UCID and Wadani inter-parties agreement resolved the NEC dispute by establishing a 10 member unit dubbed the Technical Elections Management Unit.

The Berlanga Agreement also saw to it that the  hotly contested postponement of  parliamentary and local council’s elections is reversed and parameters to hold then anytime in 2020 put in place.

With the failure of the two opposition parties to muster enough approval votes, does this signify diligence on the part of the Somaliland members of parliament or a covert rejection of the inter-parties agreement.

While the rejection of Mahmud Saeed Dalmar from the Wadani by the legislators can be taken in its stride pending nomination of another one by the party, that of UCID sends the right signal.

For Abdifatah Ibrahim Hasan the dilemma of his nomination comes from the fact that he was not only replacing Hasan Yusuf Dualeh whose resignation from NEC had been rejected by the UCID party but from the fact that he was a member of the immediate past NEC whose term expired mid last year.

The confusion emanates from the fact that the Amb Berlanga  inter-party agreement established a ten member Technical Elections management Unit-TEMU composed of three member’s representation the international community with a stake in the Somaliland democratization process and the seven members of the immediate past NEC, of which Abdifatah was a member

The TEMU –NEC membership muddle is not a sole preserve of UCID since one of the president’s (read Kulmiye party) nominee to the current body Ms. Kaltun Sheikh Hasan is herself a carryover from the outgone body.

Despite Kaltun having served in the immediate past electoral body thence technically a member of TEMU, her re-nomination was done long before the inter-parties agreement thence the president is expected to rectify the anomaly.

So which way forward now for the opposition parties representation at NEC, will they nominate other representatives or will they maintain status quos while lobbying for support from members of parliament.

Will the House of Representatives approve future opposition party’s nominees to the national elections commission or are the legislators bent on wrecking the Berlanga inter-parties agreement.

What cannot be ignored is the fact that while most Somalilanders welcome the agreement which if implemented puts all political differences to the dust is that the establishment of TEMU that will oversee the proposed 2020 elections is a bit dubious for it completely negates NEC a constitutional body.

But while the rejection of the two came courtesy of votes the clerk to the House of Representatives Abdirizaq Saeed Ayanle revealed otherwise at a post session presser in Hargeisa

According to the House of Representatives clerk the UCID Nominee Abdifatah Ibrahim Hasan was denied approval because

  1. He was a member of the former NEC
  2. Thence in contravention of the inter-parties agreement which established TEMU whose members are to be drawn from the outgone NEC

Why Legislators denied approval to Wadani Nominee’s  Mahmud Saeed Dalmar

  1. Refusal to appear at the parliamentary internal affairs committee
  2. Upon orders from Wadani he prioritized political party over the national assembly and
  3. Acted illegally by refusing to adhere to laws upon Re-nomination as party representative to NEC