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Published On: Sat, Aug 15th, 2015

Somaliland:Regional Allocation of House of Representatives Seats Debate

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The current heated debate about the regional allocation of House of Representatives seat is one which should have been undertaken years ago. I thought, in any case, that the following background notes on this issue might helpful to those who have not be aware of the similar debate in 2004 and the House Committee Report (The Jirdeh Committee) which  led to the then one-off agreement.

21/02/2015:  ………………………. the 2005 Election Law was promulgated on the basis of its application in that election only and its revision at a later date, specially on (the vexed) question of the regional allocation of seats and on voter registration (or census, as it was put then). Since then, other issues such as the introduction of quota seats for women and for excluded minorities have arisen and also need to be addressed. The 2005 Law did not need to address voting based on an electoral register and that and the fact that House has also resolved late last year that the elections of the President and the House should both be held jointly,  also require some, but not complicated,  revision of the old Law. The details of the 2005 Law are set out below in both Somali and English.

On the complexities of the allocation of seats to the regions, the House set up in 2004 a Committee headed by the then Deputy Speaker Abdiqadir Ismail Jirde (and assisted by Independent Researcher Dr Abdirazak Aqli) to consider and report on this issue. The Committee produced, in December 2004,  an excellent report  which still remains topical and pertinent to any deliberations on this controversial issue. It is does not appear that any further action was taken on this matter during the last 10 years,  and so, in all probability, the same decision taken in 2005 to base the allocation on the February 1960 Somaliland election seats allocation formula might  prove to be the only sensible course to take again.

 Note: As this 2004 Report may be of some assistance in the forthcoming debate on the necessary changes to the 2005 HoR Election Law, I have reproduced a copy   of  the  JIRDEH HoR AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT 2004 here and have added as footnotes updated voting figures relating to the elections held since the Report was produced.  The Report is especially relevant to the ‘sunset clause’ 12(1) regional seats allocation  of the 2005 Law which stated:

‘12(1) In order to give priority to the national interest which will be served by the holding of an election, the allocation of the seats of the House of Representatives to each region for this election only (emphasis added) shall be as follows:  1. Hargeisa Region  20 seat;  2. Togdher Region  15 seats;  3. Awdal region   13 seats;  4. Sanag Rgion   12 seats;  5. Sool Region   12 seats;  6. Sahil Region   10 seats.’

It is, of course, open to the Parliament (and the President) to retain the 2005 regional seats allocation by simply removing the ‘sunset’ qualification, in which case the rest of the 2005 Law will only require updating  to conform it to the requirements of the voter registration system and to add any other necessary lessons learnt since 2005. 

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