The current Somaliland parliament has been in office for 15 years due to elections postponed several times. Elections were scheduled to be last year on 27 March and were postponed ones again by the Electoral Commission. On July 12, 2020, the three political parties made an agreement to finally hold parliamentary elections in late 2020. However, the Electoral Commission has yet to announce the exact dates.
Members of parliament have been in discussion on the Election Bill for the upcoming elections last week and on Monday announced that they will vote on it Saturday’s session, September 12, 2020.
One of the most important articles of this bill is “Gender Quota”. Women and minority groups have been particularly disadvantaged in Somaliland politics where tribal dynamics and numbers play a major role in elections. The quota although not specifically codified in the constitution, will give women and minority groups fair representation in Somaliland’s legislator.
There has been a vibrant public debate about the treatment of minority groups and the role of women in politics, where politicians and imams have spoken on the issues.
Setting up a quota for women and minority groups have been in the works for a while and President Bihi and his cabinet have approved a quota allocating 21 seats for women and minority clans in June 2018. Similarly, all three political parties have expressed support for the quota.
During the discussion, some members’ of Parliament raised that the constitution guarantees equal opportunity for political office as a reason why setting a quota for women and minority groups might be unconstitutional.
It’s important to note that many members of parliament endorsed the quota and stressed the importance of approving it to ensure women and minority clans have access and representation in the political and decision-making arenas.
Mr. Abdiqadir Jirde an MP and a senior member of the Waddani opposition party stated that there is no religious edict that prevents women from participating in politics.
There is a lot at stake for women and minority groups regarding tomorrow’s vote on the Election Bill and although there is wide support for the quota for women and minority groups and although many members of Somaliland parliament have expressed support, it is unclear if women and minority quota will be approved as originally suggested by President Bihi and his cabinet.