Delaying Somaliland’s Elections could undermine Country’s Fragile Democracy
There is a serious concern among many Somalilanders about the upcoming election that is scheduled onMarch 27, 2017, because the main opposition party is requesting for a postponing the election. The 2017 presidential election is a contest between Mr. Muse Bihi, the Chairman of the incumbent party, the Kulmiye and Irro, the Speaker of the House, of the Waddani party. In 2015, Somaliland the unelected Upper House, Guurti, had extended President Silanyo’s term for two more years.
The reason for the postponement? According to Mr. Ismail “Buuba” Hurre, spokesman for the Wadani party is that drought is ravaging some parts of the country.
But Somaliland is located within the drought prone Horn of Africa. The current drought to hit the country is one of worst droughts in decades affecting thousands of Somalilanders. The drought was caused by the lack of rain from two consecutive rainy seasons, which decimated vegetation, including rain fed crops and pastures for livestock. The drought has caused thousands of nomadic people to walk days in search for food and water after losing their livestock. The epicenter of the drought is in the eastern regions: Sanaag and Sool. The drought has affected the lives of poor pastoral communities in Somaliland, who depend on livestock for their livelihoods, for milk, for trade, and for transport. Somaliland’s economy depends on the export of sheep and mutton to the Arabian Gulf.
In fact, last year, Somaliland exported 4 million of sheep, camel and cattle, which generated an estimated revenue of $240 million for the pockets of exporters. If the government were to just allocate $1 surcharge for each livestock export toward rural development and future normal drought occurrence, water, food shortages and hunger could be mitigated.
Somaliland is overwhelmed with Non-governmental aid groups, both secular and religious, for the sole purpose fighting poverty and human disasters. These humanitarian aid groups, and their sponsors has become more powerful than our government, and they are not accountable to anybody.
The Somaliland people have been feeling the affect of drought for the whole year. But, the response of the Somaliland government (Silanyo administration and the Parliament) on the drought in Somaliland is ineffective, feeble and uncoordinated.
Irro as the Speaker of the Parliament is responsible for holding the Silanyo administration accountable for the slow response of the drought. If he really did care about the drought victims, as he is showing now during the election cycle, why has he not passed any piece of legislation dealing with or appropriating funds for relief efforts or creating a cabinet level agency that coordinates and manages emergency and relief and efforts?
Instead, he prefers flying to Nairobi to beg money from donor countries for drought victims or promoting his political goal: Making Somaliland a region of Somalia.
Why does Speaker Irro and his attack dog, Buuba, a man who pledged allegiance to the fictional Republic of Somalia constitution, and was onetime a member of its cabinet— request for a delaying of the election? Why do they think delaying the election would give them more time to make the election more competitive or even win?
We can’t entertain what Irro or his surrogates are demanding. We must not allow Irro and his surrogates to delay Somaliland elections. Somalilanders are sick and tired of their charades, distortions and distractions.
Moreover, though constitution allows for election to be postponed, but delaying election solely on the basis of drought in a region prone to the drought would not address the long term solutions to ease the drought effects on pastoral communities, which needs a sustained efforts, resources and commitment from our government.
So voters must reject his delaying tactic. A poor and unrecognized country like Somaliland does not need election delays. Because delaying elections not only undermines good governance and stability but it would also hinder Somaliland’s quest for diplomatic recognition. What it needs is to hold a free, fair and credible election, to show to the world that Somaliland is committed to democracy and the rule of law in a region rife with despotism.
By the way, a peaceful and credible election would also give a chance for the voters to hold accountable for the government’s slow response on drought.
Ultimately, Irro must put the interest of the ordinary people ahead of that his cronies and his foreign sponsors. And if he is defeated in a fair and free election he should also accept the election result.
Because we want the revolution to succeed, the one that started when the first shot was fired in Hargeisa, on December 9, 1961, by a group young revolutionary junior officers, who were fighting to reclaim the freedom that we lost to corrupted, factional and selfish politicians like Irro, Feisal Ali Warrabe, and Buuba who made the Republic of Somaliland a region of Somalia.
Lewis Center, Ohio
He can be reached @ email@example.com