The ruling party Kulmiye convened its central committee meeting on the 10th October 2015 to nominate its presidential candidate to succeed their incumbent president, after he had decided not to stand for a second term for the next presidential election expected to take place on 17th April 2017. The chairman of the party, veteran, Mr Muse Biixi Cabdi, one of the highly decorated national heroes who had led the armed struggle against Somalia in which Somaliland successfully regained its independence at a hefty price was deemed to be the natural success of the incumbent president. However, two former government ministers and a member of the House of Representatives declared their candidacy to challenge him. That challenge emanating from the other three candidates immediately failed to materialise as they had withdrawn their candidacy when a rumour was leaked purporting that the president would be supporting the veteran for presidential candidacy of the party. This article looks into the huge success of the Veteran and the impact he made on the ruling party’s popularity as well as his own that has now set him on course to be the next Somaliland president. Evidences are based on my experience and circumstantial evidence.
Within minutes of celebrating his success for being nominated for presidential candidacy, it was overshadowed by the boycott (thereafter, I used the term withdrawal to reconcile with the facts) of the other three candidates to challenge him. Their withdrawal from the race was hastily based on the decision in reaction to the president who was said to have been secretly discussing his associates regarding his view that veteran Biihi would serve in the best interest of Somaliland to succeed him –his position would be to back him. Although the other three candidates expected the president not to align any of them, the president has the rights bestowed by the constitution of the party to exercise his prerogative by supporting the right candidate for the party and the country to succeed him. That decision perplexed the other three candidates – and all felt that their already decimal support blatantly collapsed. Instead of congratulating the veteran Biihi to exalting power in which he was democratically elected, the three candidates accused him of a deceptive claim that the election had not been held in a conducive environment. The overwhelming majority of the public did not corroborate that fairy tale; it was seen to appear as a counterfactual claim with no subsistence. Having failed to produce a single document today substantiating their claim regarding why they had felt the election was undemocratic – it was pitfall for them not to have congratulated him.
However, the fact of the matter was the veteran had the full support of the party central committee members who were intuitively poised to reflect their decision on the wish of their constituents. In addition to that, most of the Somaliland people in the country and in the Diaspora, including those who have never been supporters of the Kulmiye party were of the view that veteran Bihi has a lot to offer his country and the right person to lead Somaliland into the next five years. His towering track record in his thirty years he offered his service to his country, including in the armed struggle, in government, in reconciliation of Somaliland clans, democratisation of the country elicited unprecedented track record that none of his challengers could have matched in the slightest.
Furthermore, the majority of the public also appear that it would not have been possible for the other three candidates to mount a credible challenge had they decided to take part in the election within their party. Albeit a dozen of ministers resigned from government, it would not have scantly impacted on the support of the veteran. Their protest short-lived as the people came to the realisation it would have been impossible to turn around the support of the veteran had within the central committee members. That is to say when the votes were casted; 94.2 % of the votes went for veteran Bihi, including the president’s one. The turnout was 93.6%. This means that of the 390 committees, 365 members were present at the meeting. Eventually when the vote was casted, 344 voted for the veteran Bihi, 14 opposed him and 7 abstained. Of those who voted against him, include a serving minister who did not vote in line with his president, albeit it raised few eye brows but was a true reflection of the strength of the democratisation of Somaliland that everyone has the right to express their view.
Succinctly, the election of the Kulmiye Party was by far fair and free. No single evidence has been shown of irregularities. With that huge confidence shown to veteran Biihi, he is already seen to be endorsed by the public to be the president in the waiting. This further supported the lack of effective challenge emanating from the opposition party is an intrinsic factor to be a run-away presidential candidate. In the social media, people attribute the popularity of the veteran that he would make Somaliland a strong state that fights tribalism, nepotism, corruptions – and fosters strong social cohesion.
In contributing my thought to this discourse, I have taken part the process of the Somaliland democratisation as a one of the founding members of the oldest political party of Somaliland and hugely interacted with the Somaliland public. To this end, my advice to the hopeful presidential candidate is to endow the public with his election manifestation delineating:
- What would be his health policy be as the state does not have the capacity to provide basic health service i.e. HIV/AIDs and other communicable diseases;
- What would be his gender policy as Somaliland women ostensibly suffer, and are underrepresented in every institution and workforce, both in the public and private sectors;
- What would be his education policy in improving the standard of education from primary to tertiary level;
- As rich in natural resources Somaliland is, what would be his policy in exploiting the resources to aid economic growth;
- What would be his foreign policy in achieving internationally recognised statehood;
- What would he be envisaging the size of departmental government Ministries to be?
- What would be his policy on reforming house of elders and representatives; as they are currently not fit for purpose;
- What would be his economic policies in inducing economic growth , tackling extreme poverty, and unemployment;
- As Somaliland lacks effective and efficient taxation system in which billions of taxation uncollected; what would be his strategy in in overhauling tax avoidance and evasions; and
- As Somaliland people become drug addicts in which billions of dollars are spent on financing the habit; what would be his policy in addressing the drug trade.
Finally, veteran Biihi is a highly decorated veteran and hugely contributed to the reborn of Somaliland independence– having divulged a life time of service to his country and people – he is seen to be the icon of Somaliland independence and its future hopes. People feel indebted to his contribution he made to his country – and that made the ruling party the most popular political party. The courage of the president not to seek out a second term and the nomination of the veteran Bihi set the Kulmiye party beyond the reach of the opposition to challenge the presidential election.
Ahmed Abdi Isse
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