Somaliland: President Wants Constitutional Court to Settle Election Dates Dispute


As Guurti remains adamant on the irrevocability of its April 2017 slated date disputed by opposition parties

Somaliland Constitutional Court to intervene political parties fight over national cake

By: Yusuf M Hasan

Somalilandsun – The judiciary is soon to be the next battle ground for the dispute surrounding postponed presidential and parliamentary elections.

The shift from political machinations that have polarised the country since the National Election Commission-NEC announced it cannot hold the polls as slated in June 2016 is to be fronted by the president of Somaliland Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo.

According to GeeskaAfrika president Silanyo is expected to approach the Constitutional Court soon with a request for legal interpretation of the Guurti vs. political parties tussle.

“The head of state seeks the courts’ interpretations on whether the Guurti has the legal mandate to allocate election dates as well as extend the tenure of the president and parliament’s House of Representatives that expired on the 26th June 2015” revealed gesskaafrika which quoted reliable sources within the presidency in Hargeisa.

The election dates dispute that refuses to go away ensued on the 21st April 2015 when NEC announced that “For a number of Technical and legal reasons elections slated in Somaliland mid this year is untenable”

Revealing that the electoral body can complete voter registration latest by December 2015 while The country’s registration and election laws still require some amendments by parliament, NEC proposed 26th June 2016 as its viable date for the ballot.

This announcement which not only postponed elections but set the stage for Elders of Guurti, the Upper chamber of parliament to intervene as well, thus extend tenure of the executive and parliament as per constitutional stipulations also jumpstarted the political wrangling.

A 25 member Guurti committee established by house Chair Suleiman Aden slated 27th April 2015 as the election dates thus an automatic tenure extension of 22 months.

This decision that is to date the first from the Honourable elders to kindle a dispute rather than pacify it as is usual met with vehement rejection from opposition political parties of UCID and Wadani as well as the international Community-IC.

With tensions Simmering nationwide exacerbated by the disapproval from and castigation by the IC mainly European Union and United Kingdom the country’s major Humanitarian, Development and Democratization donors, discussions between the ruling Kulmiye and opposition parties of UCID and Wadani proposed November 2016 for the polls, almost five months more than the NEC ones.

L- R Leaders of the three national political parties Abdirahamn Irro Wadani Musa Bihi Kulmiye and Feisal Ali Warabe UCIDThe refusal of Wadani party to sign the agreement escalated the controversy and with prodding from the IC the presidency facilitated another round of an interparty reconciliation move that though staggered in the process under the chairmanship of Vice president Abdirahman Sayli ended with a tripartite consensus that designated presidential and parliamentary elections be held in December 2016 but with a provision that NEC slated the actual date and president legitimized it.

Acclaimed by many both on the country and from the IC as the ultimate triumph of the Somaliland home-grown conflict resolution mechanism, in jump a fire breathing chairman of the elders chamber Suleiman Aden alleging that the Guurti decision was inviolable thus not only trashing the tripartite agreement but rekindling the standoff.

Incensed by the alleged “Guurti decision is Sacrosanct” the opposition parties called for a national conference and wide spread demonstrations in protest.

This move was countered by the government with an order banning any assembly by opposition parties and conference facilities from hosting them.

With security personnel having taken over most Wadani party offices and arresting numerous national and branch officials in Hargeisa, Burao, Erigavo and Berbera the opposition parties went to court.

In a landmark verdict of 23 July 2015 the constitutional court ruled that the opposition parties have been granted rights to assembly by the constitution as long as they conform to Somaliland laws.

UK envoy to Somaliland and Somali Ambassador Neil Wigan flanked by assistants follow proceeding at the Egal int Airport in HargeisaA jubilant opposition immediately released a six point’s ultimatum after a three days joint opposition parties Alliance conference in which the government was stressed upon the imperatives of implementing the tripartite agreement.

Though prompted but not cowed by the ultimatum president Silanyo approached the Guurti for a reconsideration of its April 2017 decision in favour of the December 2016 of the tripartite parties.

Despite the absence of the fire breathing Guurti Chair Suleiman Aden, the elders during the first post recess session on 8th August 2015 unanimously rejected the presidential request.

Briefing the press after the session the deputy Guurti chair Saeed Jama Ali re-echoed his boss as he reiterated that the elder’s decision was irrevocable thence the presidential request denied which effectively translates unquestionably to April 2017.

With this rejection by the elders the planned move to settle the dispute through legal channels, president Silanyo wants the constitutional court’s interpretation as to whether the Guurti has the mandate for its said and contested decision.

According to the opposition parties the constitution grants Guurti the mandate to allocate elections dates only in case of war or natural disasters, of which none is prevalent thus the parties argue their tripartite decision or that of NEC stands.

If so approached by the president the constitutional court ruling shall once and for all settle the election dispute that refuses to dissipate.

Even though much is expected from the highest court in the country whose youthful head, Chief Justice Aden Haji Ali assumed duties recently, recent judiciary reshuffles that ensued after the landmark decision on opposition parties rights to assembly are to contend with.