Lewis Center, Ohio—Next year, Somaliland voters will head to the polls to choose a president. Three candidates from the main political parties will compete for the election. But the nominating process for the 2015 Kulmiye presidential nominee has became a highly contentious matter, because of the dispute over the delegates that would select the party’s nominee for the 2015 presidential election. And if the leadership of the Kulmiye party fails to address the current dispute, in a transparent and democratic way, not only it would hurt the Kulmiye’s chance for victory, but it could also undermine Somaliland’s fledgling democracy and stability.
President Mohamed Silanyo is not officially announced his candidacy, but according to his surrogates, he is running for a second term. And if he wins for a second one, he will be 81 years old by the time he takes the oath of the office. Only President Mugabe of Zimbabwe would be older than him as head of African state.
Of course, the President, as incumbent, has many advantages: He is running the country. He also made tough decisions on both domestic and foreign fronts. In addition, all of the governments’ resources would be available for him. In fact, his cabinet ministers are already engaging a full blown reelection campaign for him, just to save their jobs. And they are fomenting the current political dispute over the makeup and the selection process of the Kulmiye’s central and executive committee, which eventually will select 2015 Kulmiye presidential nominee.
President Silanyo and his cabinet members are also using deadly tactics of threat and intimidation including purging of any member of the cabinet, who do not agree their illegal and undemocratic way of selecting Kulmiye party committees.
Unfortunately, Dr Mohamed Omar, the former minister of foreign affairs and Commerce, was the first victim of such tactic: “Either you are with us or you are with the losing faction of Kulmiye party.” But he chose to do the right thing and I would commend his courage to stand for transparent and fair process.
However, the unfolding political dispute over the selection process of Kulmiye delegates might eventually split the Kulmiye party.
Both factions of Kulmiye party are vying for winning the party’s presidential nominee in 2015.One faction is led by the chairman of the Kulmiye Party, Muse Bihi, who is challenging the Silanyo for party’s presidential nomination. In fact, before 2010 election, then candidate Silanyo, publicly endorsed to back Bihi as Party’s 2015 eventual presidential nominee. But that pledge took place before the special interest groups took over the Kulmiye party.
Furthermore, Silanyo and his cohorts did everything on their disposal to marginalize Bihi. Silanyo even appointed Sheilh Samale a finance minister just to undermine Bihi, since both of them hails the same sub-clan. Despite all of that Bihi was patient and never quit the party.
And recently, Bihi announced his candidacy for the office of the president of Somaliland. He released his own executive committee of the party, to counter the list that President Supporters recently released.
Definitely, Kulmiye party has rules and procedure to select their leadership and other important committees: the central and the executive. For instance, last month, the party has held its convention and already selected the key leadership positions such as chairmanship and two vice chairmanships.
And according to the vice chairman of the party, Mr Kahin, in a recent interview, “The party leadership legally has the power to nominate both the executive and central committee.” He also added, “The organizing committee of the party’s convention has no authority to nominate or release the names of party’s different committees.”
The Kulmiye party’s dispute has paralyzed the Somaliland’s government, because some cabinet ministers are busy with the reelection efforts of the president instead of executing the daily business of the Somaliland government.
Since Silanyo is an elder statesman, the Somaliland people were expecting from him to use his leadership position to mediate the two factions.
But so far, it looks like; Silanyo has put his reelection campaign and the demands special interest groups ahead of the interest of his party and the nation. And each passing day, the president fails to address the gridlock of his party, it would hurt him politically, and the chance for the Kulmiye to win the presidency again would diminish.
Moreover, the longer the Kulmiye party’s political squabble drags on the more likely, the 2015 Welfare party Presidential nominee, Jamal Ali, a former banker turned politician , to offer alternative to dissatisfied Kulmiye’s supporters, If Silanyo use his political muscle to forced out the Bihi faction of the Kulmiye party.
In 2010, then candidate Silanyo only won only 40 % of the electorate. Keeping the coalition that put him in power, again, would be a challenging, if not impossible, because Kulmiye party has already split and eventually will end up the fate of the UDUB party.
Many Somalilanders, including I have a serious concern about the President’s health and age, which is a very touchy topic. But his close circle believes that the president is in a good health and fit to lead the country for another five years. Of course, the President Silanyo has a right to run for a second term. Today, the President’s record for his first term is mixed.
But Silanyo would do a big favor for the Somaliland people; if he would separate running the daily business of the country from his reelection campaign. Silanyo should also stop using government ministers as the Headquarters of his 2015 presidential bid.
Finally, I still believe Silanyo cares deeply about Somaliland and he wants to leave great accomplishments and good legacy for his people. But if he failed to lead for his own political Party, how the Somaliland people would expect from him to lead the country another five more years?
Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation. It is a grassroots organization, located in Lewis Center, Ohio that advocates for the advancement of freedom and democratic values for the indigenous people of the Horn of Africa. He can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.