Somalilandsun: Somaliland, citizens are expected to go to the polls in May 2021 to elect legislators and local councilors for the first time in 15 and 8 years, respectively.
These will be the seventh elections since 2002 and the introduction of multiparty democracy.
Somaliland was praised for conducting timely elections ever since and gained the reputation of a peaceful and growing democracy within the region of the Horn of Africa, which is marked by hostilities and autocratic regimes.
However, Somaliland is yet to graduate into a mature democracy and has drawn condemnation in recent years amid sustained term extensions despite the fact that the Somaliland constitution clearly limits office terms for elected officials to five years.
There are only 3 political parties and over 990 candidates in total contesting the elections for seats in the House of Representatives- HoR and Local Councils- LC).
The HoR comprises 82 seats, all of which are directly elected, with no seats reserved for women and minority groups. With over 90% of the candidates expected to be newcomers, the elections could see the emergence of a new wave of young and homegrown leaders, despite the absence of affirmative action to representation for people from minority clans and women.
Conversely, there is a myriad of challenges facing the newly elected members of parliament (hereon, MPs) and councilors on ways to tackle corruption, fix the stagnant economy, and create jobs for the rising youthful population.
A major issue on the agenda of Somaliland politics is the relations with Somalia.
The upcoming 2021 parliamentary elections, in particular, will have an impact on the relations between Somaliland and Somalia.
As there is no consensus between both sides on the political status of Somaliland, the newly elected parliament has a high potential of influencing Somaliland’s future.
In addition, the Somalia government is currently in the process of electing members of parliament and a president through indirect elections.
The post-election term is expected to be a new era in establishing the nature of relations between Somaliland and Somalia.
The above is narrated as introduction to a policy outlook prepared jointly by ISIR Think Tank and Africa Foundation with the objective of presenting an overview of the context, history, and political settings on the upcoming 2021 Somaliland elections, as well as the various political actors and issues driving the race.
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