Twenty five years of independence and 15 years of democracy, Somaliland is widely praised for its dynamic nascent democracy in a troubled and turbulent region which the international news report terrorism, piracy, anarchy and dictatorship. With the apparent success and maintenance of peace and stability, flaws lie in the hybrid democratic system envisaged to help the people to reach their potentials in a free and open society where democracy and human rights are the core guiding principles.
Since 2005, the election of the House of Representatives has not been held despite expiration of the House’s term in 2010. The Upper House (Guurti) was never directly elected by the people. The serving members of the Guurti were selected by clan elders in 1997 and remain in seat since then by extending their own term. This article argues that the main challenge impeding conducting the House of Representatives election is political one, not a legal. The process requires a roadmap with timetable elucidating the timeframe in which the process will be concluded. In the absence of a roadmap, it is obvious that the issue will remain unresolved. One of the key factors obstructing success is that the political elites are in devoid of roadmap. Besides postponement, they have never presented a way out.
After a decade long struggle, the people of Somaliland finally declared restoration of independence at Burao in 1991 (Lewis, 2002). Interim government was set up to lead two years of transitional period. The interim government faced turmoil posed by abundance of arms and loss of control created by the collapse of the government institutions. In 1993, traditional elders and politicians held a grand conference in Borama as the term of the government lapsed (Jhazbhay, 2009). The conference put the first foundations of state institutions for Somaliland. Provisional charter was approved by the delegates, and president, vice president and bicameral parliament were elected (Walls, 2014).
The charter was a result of a long discussions regarding the nature of the government, the powers and structures of the state institutions and the legal system. The delegates were divided on whether to create a parliamentary or presidential government. Lastly, the latter option was favoured. A presidency with full executive powers was established. The decision of preferring the presidential system considered the experience learnt during the civilian parliamentary governments of 1960 to 1969. The main objective was to avoid unstable government at a time of a crisis in a new republic forming from the ashes of a brutal dictatorship and devastating war.
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Guleid Ahmed Jama
Guleid is a practicing lawyer, blogger and researcher with the Centre for Policy Analysis. He also chairs Human Rights Centre. He holds Bachelor’s Degree in Laws, MA in International Relations and is currently MA candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies.