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Published On: Wed, Aug 19th, 2015

Somaliland: Irrelevant Constitution, A Puppet High Court, and A Disaster Waiting Country

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vlcsnap-2015-08-07-11h53m45s167By Magan Ibrahim

This summer common sense prevailed as the highest court in the land, which is by the way, is always in the pockets of whomever is president of the time, reached a compromise split decision to rule for the rights of the citizens to have political and social rally while allowing the government to be solely in charge of any national political conference.

This single act of concession to the public that never happens immediately impacted the mood of the country. People have collectively exhaled. Someone actually yelled in a packed restaurant when the news was heard, “This could be the end of the political gridlock” referring to the uproar caused by the Upper House, the Guurti’s illegitimate term extension for current administration. Imagine how the good people of Somaliland would appreciate if the courts would make more similar semi- good judgments?

Lack of Election and the Political Dispute

Constitutional crisis that never seem to an end resurface whenever Somaliland is close to having another election has become the norm rather than the exception. That is why the court’s symbolic decision briefly carried so much meaning to so many people. Unfortunately, the euphoria short lived as Siilaanyo reshuffled the court members throwing out the judges suspected of voting for that decision within the week. The cover story was that the new Chief recommended some new handpicked individuals, supposedly with more knowledge and experience.

The only light on the other side of the tunnel disappeared at the same speed as it appeared. Any hope for the country’s judicial system to be independent has been shattered. Yet, the President has asked this same puppet court to make a ruling about the legality of his term extension. What an irony and an insult to our intelligence? The predicted outcome has already been issued by the court.

In Somaliland, as it stands now, clan politics thrives and the rule of law takes a back seat. This is where the only organized clans have the upper hand to claim the nation’s meager resources over others. In the West we always hear the ‘organized crime cartel’ but the equivalence in Somaliland is the organized clan cartel. In contrary, this is where consensus filled with political inclusiveness had worked in the past. If similar harmony is simply applied, the nation could stay strong to avoid the looming self-inflicted destruction.

Nevertheless, the way Somaliland is governed today, current administration has peculiar agenda: divide, rule and conquer regardless of the consequences. The unique political reputation outsiders regarded Somaliland as the role model for the Horn of Africa has been slowly eroding over the past five years. Few infrastructures and building walls are showcased but the fabric of the society is immensely destroyed by power hungry unpatriotic forces.

The worse is yet to come and this is where it gets complicated. If, God forbid, current unconstitutional president dies today there are no mechanism to keep the government function until new leader is legitimately elected by the people.

Those close to the helm of power are quick to quote the constitution and will tell you there is a plan. The actual constitution they so eagerly and wrongfully drive their power from has compelling instructions in the event that the president resigns, dies, or impeached while in office. Article 89 states; the Vice President may complete any two or more remaining years if the president dies or be the care taker if it is less than two years where an election must be held within six months to choose a new leader.

Somaliland executed this article successfully when President Egal died, God Bless His Soul. However, if the term has already expired, what would the VP inherit? The key word in the Constitution is the “Remaining years…” {of the term before it expires}.

Why Guurti’s Action is illegal?

Nowhere in its entire 130 articles, does the Somaliland Constitution indicate a current president can stay in power after his term expires, unless elections can’t be held due to one of these circumstances:

  1. The Country is in the middle of a war triggering major security breaches threatening the national stability. This reason allows the executive branch to declare state of emergency which suspends the implementation of the law including the electorate process.
  2. An expired mandate can also be extended in short period of time if there are devastating natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunami.

None of these factors exist in the country, thus, the term extension for this government is unconstitutional. If that has a meaning in Somaliland!


Several implications may come out of this situational legal limbo which I expect the supporters of this Administration will shamelessly rush to defend without allowing an open and fair debate about the future of the country.

First; this proves the Somaliland Constitution is incomplete and in need of amendments to fix all the loopholes including the ambiguous articles that became the roots of this crisis that keep repeating itself every election cycle. That means a national constitutional conference MUST be held. A real conference attended by representatives of all stakeholders from every groups affected by the outcome. This consultative conference should recommend concrete amendments that resolve political disputes whenever they have escalated. This Administration must allow this to take place.

Secondly; more urgently and before any constitutional review and reform are undertaken; a national conference to discuss how to manage the transition is needed. Swift, closely guarded consultation process that brings together opposition members, the ruling party and traditional elders as well as legal experts must be initiated. Clear step by step points on how to handle the Guurti’s unconstitutional disappointment action, and incase the senior in the house kicks the bucket, should be adopted and agreed by all. This will help avert any fallout incase the unexpected occurs. More importantly, this transition must recommend a government of national unity.

Thirdly; tribalism made a remarkable comeback with vicious and destructive energy that swept the fragile institutions we have built over time. In result no rule of law is respected. Hence, regulations we have in the books became irrelevant. Those were trusted to safe guard the rules of law are abandoning their responsibilities. Consequently law abiding citizens are taken matters into their own hands to resolve differences. The product is chaos and we are only to blame mostly the ruling elites. The solution to this is tolerating courts to function independently. Leaders must accept the court decisions and enforce outcomes without fear or favor.

Unless the country’s current administration, elites, intellectuals, opposition parties and traditional elders realize the necessity to methodically deal with the source of this political pain cycle, which is mainly a lack of legal frame work and in the absence of easily interpreted guidelines driven from the constitution and better yet amending the constitution itself to fix the broken system, political disagreements not only will continue, but will endure to divide people and enhance the clan tendencies that evil politicians are so eager to exploit. And in result, as it turns out, in Somaliland, stability hangs on the balance and a political disaster is away from an old and fragile man’s heartbeat!

Somaliland High Court

The Constitutional Court, the High Court of Somaliland, has a role to play in all judicial conduct including political issues. We would never have been in this difficult political dilemma if the Court had been independent to reach impartial rulings. The Court has accepted the President’s call to rubber stamp the Guurti’s extension of his expired mandate. Unfortunately, we have all predicted the outcome of this sham court action, pretending to give the opposition a due process, to fool the public.

Whatever dignity and credibility left, the Court should salvage, to begin building its reputations. This is necessary for looking ahead well into the future. Let us pray that someday the court would stop acting as an extension of the Administration and miraculously gain the public’s trust.

We have been here before. The people are resilient. We shall overcome as we continue to stick to our principles of protecting the legacy and the blood of the heroes that died for this nation, believing their ultimate sacrifice would be the foundation of a prosper future for generations to come. Somaliland can do better and the President can leave a better legacy if and only if he is the one calling the shots!



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