Somaliland: Open Letter to House of Representative and Local Council Elections Candidates

Journalist Mohamed Hussein Jama'Rambo' for Somaliland MP

Somalilandsun: Thanks for announcing your candidacy. I know you are so excited to run one of the highest responsibilities in the country. I’m excited too. Being an MPs or member of the local council is a huge responsibility. For a Member of Parliament, you representing the electorate, making laws, and holding the government to account its actions; for a Local Council, you are also representing your constituents, making rules and regulations, and delivering services. Both jobs require you to have strong commitment and dedication to better service for the country. I believe you aware of this. I know those of you who announced their candidacy have not only the knowledge, experience, and skills required for this job, but the courage and the commitment to make change happen in your community.

You have keep one thing in mind, the change you want to happen starts at the campaigning stage.  In the past, the house of representatives and local government elections indirectly based on clan systems whereby a candidate rely on their lineage for the vote to be elected. It is time to re-evaluate the course of action by asking ourselves why do we loyal to our clans when it comes to voting. One thing that comes to your mind right away is that if we vote candidate from our clan member, he/she will secure job opportunities for us or get better access to government resources or better services. Did this happen in the last two elections? The answer is no. All candidates were busy with their interests, other than their clan or public interest. Now, it time to vote for those who can deliver good services for the community.

I think if we need a change, we have to stop this and never happen again. Candidates have to come up with another political strategy to earn votes from their constituents. Having witnessed the poor performance of the outgoing PMs and local Counselors, now we know voting for a candidate through a clan neither brings change nor has a positive impact on our democratic process. Look at your city, it is still the same if not worsen since the last election. Nothing much happened. Local counselors have failed to perform their responsibilities. A simple example could be the wastes flying everywhere or hanging in every tree.

Raage Ahmed Yusuf and Mahmoud Ahmed Yusuf Dhadoon were arrested in Hargeisa after declaring their candidature in forthcoming Elections on an Opposition UCID Party’ ticket on 8th Feb 2021

Given the decade been in office, the House of Representatives is also a dysfunctional political institution. They have done nothing much about the legislature. Some ministries still have conflicts of roles. The Ministry of Health, for instance, provides basic health services (MCs), while this provision was given to local governments by law. They could propose many laws and clarify others during their tenure.

If you are wondering why the change you need didn’t happen in your city and the whole country in the past years, well, the answer is because of the clan voting system! Statisticians use the phrase “GIGO” to refer to their data quality, which means “Garbage In Garbage Out”. If voters don’t make sure the people they are voting for, the outcome will be garbage out.  I know most of you are young graduates and the bright future of this country. Now, it is time you can shine and showcase your acquired knowledge to make the change your constituents want. Candidates, we, the citizens of this country, are not expecting you, this time, to do business in the old days. We want you to use your acquired knowledge and experiences to craft an appealing political campaign message to earn enough votes to elect in your respective role. No more Waar ii codeeya tolkayooow !!!

To craft an appealing political campaign message, you have to go back to your community and understand their needs and interests. You have to commit and fulfill the identified community issue. At the local level, most of our cities require roads within the cities, public street lights, waste recycling, new building and demolition inspections, and public parks and recreational centers. Building parks and recreational centers are not common in our cities, but this provision comes under the promotion of art, sport, and culture in the law of 23.  At the parliament level, our country requires strong oversight of government policies and actions, ratification of international agreements such as political, economic, and security agreements, the power to summon ministers or officials and question them about the fulfillment of their responsibilities, and oversight of the budget and the financial accounts of the country. Promising your constituents to commit one of these issues could be one way to secure their trust.

After the election, some of you will be an MP or counselor. But to better service for this community, you must have value and integrity. The best way to get on track is to re-evaluate what went wrong with your predecessor and plan to fix it.

By Abdi Adawe