Somaliland: The Constitutionally Lame-Duck National Elections Commission

Political parties wrangling holds Somaliland democratization process hostage

Somalilandsun: The abrupt resignation of Hasan Yusuf Dualeh as a member of the Somaliland Election Commission – NEC has turned tables on the government apart from establishing a new dimension in the protracted battle for elections.

Hasan Yusuf Dualeh rersigns as a member of the Somaliland NEC

First, the resignation of Commissioner Hasan Yusuf who represented UCID party leaves NEC devoid of any member from the country’s political opposition since Wadani party doesn’t have a representative at the electoral body for its nominee refused to take oath of office.

To make the electoral body fully legal as per dictates of the Somaliland constitution the seven NEC commissioners should be nominated by various bodies as follows

1. Guurti, the upper chamber of parliament 2 members

2. Presidency 2 members

3. Ruling Kulmiye party 1 member

4. Opposition part UCID 1member and

5. Wadani opposition party 1member

Since the president comes from ruling Kulmiye party this literally translates to the head of state having a majority in NEC not to mention that Guurti has in the past been known to nominate members of prevalent ruling party.

While this calculation is not currently in dispute the resignation of Hasan Yusuf and refusal of Wadani nominee to assume office leaves NEC Devoid of opposition political Parties’ representation which is unconstitutional in the sense that it is not only one sided but less in numbers by two as per constitutional stipulations.

Six of the seven members of the Somaliland Elections commssion take oath office in Hargeisa in November 2019

Since the current electoral commissioners took office last year Somaliland has been thrown into a political crisis following Guurti’s deferment of the late 2019 slated parliamentary and local council’s elections to 2022 thence subsequent and unprecedented standoffs.

Initially  the two official opposition political parties of UCID and Wadani rejected the current NEC commissioners immediately the presidency and ruling party announced their nominees most contentious being the sitting commission’s chairperson Abdirashid  Biyoraa.

The two opposition political parties raised a loud hullabaloo that saw a number of planned protest demonstrations in the capital Hargeisa disrupted by police not to mention arrest of numerous opposition politicians.

With tensions boiling high between the administration that refused to disband NEC and opposition political circles that were adamant in refusal to acknowledge the electoral body, in came local traditional and business leaders.

The reconciliation efforts of the local leaders ensued with an all antagonists, (opposition parties and presidency) agreement on the immediate removal of the current NEC commissioners from office and replacement by immediate past predecessors.

Not only were the main Somaliland national political actors in consensus in accepting the elder’s reconciliation recommendations  full acquiescence by members of the International community that support the Somaliland democratization process like the EU, UK, USA, among many was immediately availed.

But things were never to be even though President Behi met a couple of times with the two opposition parties principals Abdirahman Irro of Wadani and Eng Feisal Ali Warabe of UCID respectively.

The much touted meetings between these Somaliland leadership top honchos had initially with the president promising to disband NEC by the 15th January 2020 but this remains to be, the head of state having recanted as he alluded to nonexistent legal parameters giving him the authority to disband a constitutional body whose term is yet to expire.

With matters still as per before the elder’s mediation ordinary citizens and opposition politicians asked the commissioners to voluntary resign for the sake of the nation.

The entreat even though coached in nationalism language met with deaf ears from members of the electoral body in that direction thence the resignation of  UCID party’s representative Hasan Yusuf Dualeh who alludes his exit as one geared towards the Somaliland democratization process stays on course.

As it is now the Somaliland national election commission devoid of two commissioners’ representing opposition political is unconstitutional.

Somaliland politicians past unity Abdiraham Irro, Muse Behi and FEisal Warabe in Hargeisa 2017 nmow in the doldrums

So what is the next step for the administration which maintains NEC is legal, Guurti which postponed elections, opposition parties that are no longer represented and the International community with a stake in the Somaliland democratization process who insist that parliamentary and local council elections must be held before end of 2020/

Well only time will tell in which directions things turn but poignant is the Somaliland national election Commission is a LAME DUCK body constitutionally