“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU’s Amb Nicholas Berlanga

“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU's Amb Nicholas Berlanga

Somalilandsun: Since the presidential elections of 2017 cohesion within Somaliland communities has diminished.

This was stated by the European Union envoy to Somaliland and Somalia Ambassador Nicolas Berlanga Martinez in Hargeisa during launch of the voter registration exercise by National Elections Commission.

The  launchwhich jumpstarts the Parliamentary and local councils elections slated for April 2021 was witnessed apart from the EU envoy by leaders of the three political parties of ruling Kulmiye, opposition Wadani and UCID, government officials, legislators, civil society organizations as well as ordinary citizens.

According to the voter registration schedule NEC will undertaking the exercise in four phases between 29th November 2020-13th January 2021 as follows

“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU's Amb Nicholas Berlangs
Somaliland political parties leaders at the launch of voter registration by NEC in Hargeisa

Phase One, Awdal Region, Gabiley District, , Baligubadle and Salahley districts 29th November to 02 December,

Phase 2, Hargeisa District and Sahil Region December 13th to 16th, 2020.

Phase 3, Togdheer Region, Aynaba District, Gar-Adag District and Ceel Af-weyn District, 27 December to 30 December.

Phase 4, Erigavo ,Badhan, Dhahar District, Lasqoray District, Las Anod , Hudun and Taleh Districts 10 January to 13 January, 202.

These dates will see NEC undertake only the registration of new voters while those already registered and have list their cards or want to change voting venue will be accommodated later.

Ambassador Berlanga who has worked tirelessly and successful towards ensuring that the oft postponed polls take place as slated through reconciling the political divide, urged ongoing unity of purpose to be sustained.

Seemingly having discerned deterioration of unity of the Somaliland people, following the 2017 elections whose results were termed as rigged thus hotly contested by opposition parties culminated with sitting president Muse Bihi Abdi of Kulmiye ascend to office, the EU diplomat said

“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU's Amb Nicholas Berlanga
EU Envoy Nicholas Berlanga visible at the joint press briefing revealing Somaliland political parties’ agreement on 2020 elections -file photo

“The unity of the society (Somaliland society) whether you liked or not is not the same as it was 2016, 2017 election or 2005.” Stressing that “Compared to post 2017 polls your (Somaliland) unity has diminished”

Though he painted a gloomy disunity within local communities Ambassador Berlanga had sweet words for the unity of purpose (elections) of three national political parties.

The top European Diplomat whose tack was behind resolution of the political differences especially as relates to composition of current commissioners of the electoral body through the now famous Berlanga Accords said he appreciated this and suggested that the unity should continue.

“Having been privy to past discord among the political parties Today the unity attained and sustained is very impressive and commendable”

Stating that bi-partisan political action was a rudimentary of the democratization process Amb Nicholas Berlanga said “I urge the parties to stay on the path to unity.”

While the European Union has from the onset been major stakeholder in the Somaliland democratization process through elections funding as well as other interventions, Amb Berlanga has personally done much towards breaking a political deadlock that started after the 2017 polls.

This deadlock between the administration of President Bihi, the ruling Kulmiye party he leads and opposition Wadani and UCID parties that had caused even pre-2017 perpetual postponement of elections especially those of the national legislature now in office for over a decade.

Following frantic efforts but unsuccessful by local leaders and some International Bodies with a stake in the Somaliland democratization process ,to avert a looming political crisis that was driving the country to a major collision within, Amb Nicholas Berlanga made it in February this year.

After candid deliberations mediated by the EU envoy in which the three political parties having put grievances on the table and reconciled a tripartite agreement titled

“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU's Amb Nicholas Berlanga
Signatories to Somaliland political parties’ agreement July 2020 L-R, Eng. Feisal Ali Warabe Chairman UCID Party, Muse Bihi Abdi President of Somaliland and Kulmiye party Chairman and Abdirahamn Mohamed Abdilahi Irro Chairman Wadani Party with VP Sayli 2nd L as witness

Agreement to Conduct Somaliland Parliamentary and local Council’s elections in 2020 which was Signed 27th February 2020 by President Muse Bihi for Kulmiye, Abdirahman Irro-Wadani and Eng Feisal Ali- UCID

With objective to allow mechanism be put in place for purposes of facilitating holding of the two elections in 2020, through establishing mutually agreeable bodies for settling disputes emanating in the elections

Stating that “In lieu of the democratic importance of undertaking parliamentary and local council’s elections

Upon acknowledging disputes leading to postponement of the elections and
In recognition that all political parties must be part and in agreement of the ballot decision making process

The most poignant of the now dubbed Berlanga Accords was managing to break the deadlock over composition of NEC by creation of a Technical Election Management Unit-TEMU

TEMU was to have been composed by the previous seven NEC commissioners assisted by a couple of none voting members representing the International Community.

Though TEMU creation broke the deadlock it was short lived due to the constitutional impracticalities of having another body other than NEC oversee elections in Somaliland.

This was resolved in June this year when the parties crafted another agreement in which TEMU was replaced by an Election Monitoring Unit but subservient to NEC, simultaneously asked, ordered with expedited scheduling of simultaneous parliamentary and local councils election.

While the Berlanga Accords had dictated elections by end of 2020 subsequent events like the Corona Virus pandemic and yet to be done voter registration saw the Parliamentary and councils elections slated for April 2021.

Signatories to Somaliland political parties’ agreement July 2020

Despite being successful in resolving the political impasse that resulted in today’s bipartisanship , legal representation of women and minority clans by quota which is very dear to Amb Nicholas Berlanga remains a tough nut to crack in a country where of the two houses with a quorum of 162 there is only one women.

With parliament having for the uptenth time failing to approve amendments to the election law thus include the desire quota, claiming that all citizens of Somaliland were equal in the eyes of law, Amb Berlanga went covert, seemingly.

For after this no vote in parliament followed by visits to Hargeisa by the EU envoy the three national political parties of Kulmiye, Wadani and UCID came up with their own version of women and minority clans quota representation.

Thus a tripartite agreement of 5th September of this year read as follows: –

In cognizance of the negative impact the absence of Women and marginalized communities have in the country as pertains representation in the national parliament and local councils , Somaliland’s three national parties, UCID, WADDANI and KULMIYE hereby jointly agree that in the forthcoming elections

  1. It is mandatory that 18 women vie for parliamentary seats nationwide

  2. It is mandatory that 3 candidates from marginalized communities for parliamentary seats nationwide and

  3. Both women and marginalized communities should nominate as many candidates as possible to vie for positions as Councillors during forthcoming local council elections

“Unity among Somaliland Citizens has Weakened Post 2017 Elections” says EU's Amb Nicholas Berlangs
EU envoy to Somaliland and Somalia Amb Nicholas Berlanga addresses launch of voter registration in Hargeisa

That so one would not be surprised by the passion of Amb Berlanga for success of the Somaliland democratization process thence his acquired insight and right to comment on status like national people’s unity , political parties and gender.