Inside Somaliland's historic inter-parties agreement for local and parliamentary elections
HARGEISA, Somalia - Somaliland is set for the first elections in 15 years, following a comprehensive agreement among all major parties, which was brokered by international partners, Garowe Online reports.
The northern Somali breakaway region has been battling with internal squabbles, which have often degenerated into political divisions and at times contributed to arbitrary arrests targeting dissidents.
But in the agreement, signed by Waddani, UCID, and the 53ruling Kulmiye party, major changes have been engineered, with electoral commission's powers significantly trimmed.
Previously, NEC has been the subject of contention, with the opposition accusing President Muse Bihi Abdi's regime of choosing his loyalists to spearhead the process.
To strike a neutral ground, the parties agreed to establish a Technical Elections Management Unit [TEMU], which will execute most roles throughout the processes.
NEC, the agreement states, will sub-delegate a host of responsibilities to TEMU, which will now plan, organize and supervise local and parliamentary polls.
Among others, TEMU will in collaboration with NEC, also review the budget, appointments, and dismissals within the newly constituted team, it added.
Further, voter registration, identification of polling stations and the announcement of preliminary poll results will be done by the TEMU team, before submitting final outcome to NEC.
"Following preparatory by TEMU, the NEC will submit a budget to government, implement, appointments, dismissals or disciplinary matters, announce election dates and results," read the statement.
TEMU team will comprise of ten  members, seven from former NEC, who will have voting rights while the remaining will come from the international committee.
All major stakeholders led by President Bihi [Kulmiye], Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi alias Irro [Waddani] and Faysal Ali Waraabe of UCID signed the agreement.
Any dispute out of or related to this agreement or any amendment or interpretations to it, it read, "must be referred to and settled by Supreme Court in 14 days. The decision shall be final and binding".
Supreme Court's decision is not subject to appeal, a strong gesture that the three parties are now committed to holding the elections, which have been postponed for over a decade.
Interestingly, the agreement comes weeks after Bihi accepted an apology from Somalia, after his historic meeting with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
Although Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991, Mogadishu has constantly maintained that it remains part and parcel of its territory.
However, the date for the polls will be given at a later date, a move that allows all parties to adequately prepare. The US is one of the parties closely following the process.