The leaders of the opposition parties do not seem to be marching in lockstep with the rest of the Somaliland people who are calling vociferously for the total boycott of the planned civil/voter registration scheme.
The people accuse the government that the scheme is lopsided and puts an overwhelmingly large number of voters on the losing side for many elections to come.
In a recent press conference, leaders from the opposition parties, UCID and WADANI, clearly spelled out that they, too, will boycott the planned civil/voter registration scheme, but for a completely different reason.
These officials believe, and rightly so, that the whole idea behind the scheme is nothing more than a stumbling block designed to disrupt and ultimately push back the date of the 2015 presidential election as much as possible so that the House of Elders will eventually be forced to extend the president’s term of office for another year or so.
However, the opposition leaders conveniently failed to mention the misgivings of these communities regarding the civil/voter registration. In so doing, the opposition leaders painted themselves as a bunch of cowards who cannot call a spade a spade.
Needless to say, both party leaders failed to articulate in their joint press statements that the electoral map or rather the list, as they call it, issued by the government with regard to the areas that the civil/voter registration will take place has been deliberately gerrymandered in an apparent attempt to give certain communities an electoral and political advantage over others.
This intentional gerrymandering of civil/voter registration areas was unwittingly admitted by the powerful minister of presidency, Hersi Haji Ali, who described the gerrymandered electoral map issued by the government as one jam-packed with thorns. He tried in vain to reassure the public however that they will revise the electoral map and start “pulling the thorns out of it [qodax-saar]”.
This was the tipping point that ultimately led to various communities throughout Somaliland to call for a nationwide boycott of the planned civil/voter registration scheme. The resulting massive outcry reverberated across Somaliland and beyond.
Sadly, the aggrieved communities and the opposition parties are not speaking on the same wavelength until now.
The opposition parties are engaged in a race against time and want the presidential election to be held by next year, come what may. For their part, the public wants a just and fair electoral map before the government embarks on the civil/voter registration scheme.
Sizeable communities in Hargeisa, Burao and Borama have already declared their intentions to boycott the government’s flawed registration scheme, which they see as a major form of disenfranchisement that disproportionately affects their respective communities.
Even government sycophants described the way the electoral map was drawn as a staggering stupidity. But the government wants to push its own agenda and force the civil/voter registration down public’s throat.
The opposition leaders should put up a brave face and condemn the civil/voter registration, not just because it is a major obstacle to the forthcoming presidential election, but also because the playing field has been outrageously tilted to the advantage of one side.