Mar 18, 2011

Somaliland: Broadening the Political Dialogue?

Lawmakers in Hargeisa are discussing making room for more political parties in order to represent other voices as the de facto state broadens its multi-party democracy

Below is an article published by Somaliland Press:

This week President Ahmed Silaanyo of Somaliland issued a press release in which he announced the formation of committee that will research into whether more political parties should be permitted in Somaliland politics. Even though, Somaliland is multi-party system country with viable democratic institutions, many groups including the young generation have been calling for more parties than the current three. Those that are advocating for more political parties feel it would increase diversity of viable voice in the political dialogue of the country. Some are even disputing that by consenting to more political parties Sool residents who currently feel reserve from the three political parties can create their own party whereby they can voice their grievances. Also pro-union Somalilanders can form their own political party whereby they can speak for those that feel Somaliweyn is the right bath forward.

On the other hand there are those that think the current three political parties United Peoples Democratic party (UDUB), Justice and Development party (UCID) and the ruling Peace, Unity and Development party (Kulmiye) are doing an adequate job and therefore there is no need for another party to join the group. Their concern is if Pandora’s Box is opened then each tribe or region will create their own political party thus dividing the cohesiveness that has made Somaliland democracy model in the region and Africa’s best kept secret.

It was in 2002, during the formation of Somaliland’s multi-party system that more than ten parties had registered. The legislation stated a party must receive at least 20 percent of the popular vote from four of Somaliland’s six regions in order to advance to the next stage. Six parties met these criteria and went into a battle to further minimize the number of parties in the country. A constitution was agreed on that only three parties with the most votes will be approved. The electoral commission announced the current three parties received the most votes and the other three parties had to merge with one of the three.

To come back on the previous question does Somaliland need more political parties, I say not at the moment. I feel that the current three political parties that we have are doing a sufficient job for a country of our size and population. I am aware of the discontent my generation has with the current political parties and the elderly bureaucrats that are still holding on to the post, however in time these old lions will have to retire. In the meantime the three parties need to reform where by the leadership position must have a term limit and not be a life time position thus giving young ambitious politicians an opportunity to guide.