Somaliland political parties strike deal with Electoral Commission over elections


HARGEISA, Somalia - Somaliland has finalized plans to held local and national elections, officials said, following years of controversy that sparked high octane politics within the secessionist state of Somalia, which has been enjoying autonomy since 1991 when it claimed to have parted ways with Mogadishu.

Throughout these months, the major political parties have been wrangling over elections, and at times, opposition leaders have accused the government of failing to hold elections despite pressure from both local and international actors in the secessionist state.

But the long wait seems to have officially ended after three major political parties and the electoral commission signed a deal to hold elections within the next nine months. The parties which signed the deal include Kulmiye under the leadership of President Muse Bihi Abdi, Waddani of Abdirahman Irro, and the UCID party.

In the agreement, the region will hold elections starting with those of local municipalities and city councils before preparing for House of Representatives elections. The elections will be held using the last Somaliland electoral law, officials said.

“The NEC and the three national political parties [Waddani, UCID, and Kulmiye] finalized today their ongoing discussions regarding the time for the overdue joint elections of the House of Representatives and local governments," said Abdirahman Irro, the chairman of Waddani party.

"They agreed elections be held within nine months -May 2021,” he added, ending speculations about Somaliland's electoral future, which had been marred with arbitrary arrests targeting opposition politicians, detentions, and police brutality.

For instance, senior Waddani party officials were arrested and detained incommunicado last year leading to international condemnation. During the fiasco, police raided Waddani party offices leading to riots in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway region, which has been agitating for international recognition.

The disagreements among the Somaliland political parties lead to multiple delays in the elections of the House of Representatives and local governments. The term of the House of Representatives expired in 2010 and the local council’s term also ended in 2017.

Earlier last month, The three political parties of Somaliland signed an election landmark agreement that presents new opportunities to advance preparations for the elections and requires the NEC to present technical time schedule within 14 days starting from 12th July 2020.

Somaliland is currently pushing for international recognition and has been using the relative peace and security to advance the agenda. The settlement of the electoral quest could be a strategy by political elites to portray the region as a strategic partner for peace at the Horn of Africa.

In recent weeks, Somaliland has been at loggerheads with Somalia and the two fiercely exchanged following Hargeisa's decision to normalize ties with Taiwan, and East Asia island that has been traditionally claimed by China. The People's Republic of China was the first to raise a concern.

In a tough-worded statement, Somaliland accused Somalia of "interference" and threatened to protect her territorial integrity. The outbursts came just a month after the two started negotiations in Djibouti, which were brokered by Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh.


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