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Start of Voter Registration Signals End of Political Stalemate to Elections in Somaliland

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Under the Somaliland constitution, the political parties are allowed to serve a maximum of 10 years in office, and the tenure of the current three national political parties in Somaliland – the ruling Kulmiye, UCID, and Wadani – expired in December of 2022. The scheduled date for the Somaliland presidential election was in November 2022

Due to the unusual coincidence of these two major undertakings, which were supposed to be carried out separately just in little over a month, Somaliland experienced a political crisis that lasted for some time and resulted in demonstrations that led to losses of life and property damages.

The political atmosphere in the nation has calmed and changed for the better.

The leadership of the opposition parties in Somaliland appears to have agreed with the government and political associations in respect to party elections being conducted first, and presidential election only to take place after the three parties with the most votes advance and emerge as the official national political parties of the country for the next ten years.

Wadani party presidential candidate – Abdirahman with the party chairman – Hirsi in Ceerigabo for the launch of voter card registration

Opposition leaders’ participation in the nation’s voter registration drives demonstrates this political shift, and seals off the political feud that brought country to standstill over elections disputes.

On May 31, in the electorate districts of Awdal, Sahil, and Sanaag, the process of distributing voter registration cards by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission begun. The cards will be distributed, according to NEC officials, in 52 places in the Sanaag region and 22 locations in the Sahil region. The electoral commission’s personnel, their means of transportation, and the police units responsible for securing the registration precincts have all left Hargeisa. In the next phase, the voter registration drives will be announced for the remaining three electorate regions of Marodijeh, Togdheer, and Sool after the first phase is over.

The six electoral districts in Somaliland

Voter registration is a crucial step in the democratic process as it allows eligible citizens to enroll and participate in elections. By registering to vote, individuals can exercise their right to choose their representatives and have a say in the governance of their country.

This is an important step towards the democratization process of Somaliland Republic and contributing to the political landscape of the region.

To ensure a smooth and inclusive registration process, it is important for the authorities to provide clear information and guidelines to the public. This includes announcing the locations, and required documentation for eligibility. Additionally, efforts should be made to reach out to marginalized communities, remote areas, and individuals with disabilities to ensure their inclusion in the registration process

On the part of electorate during the registration period, citizens should make sure to gather the necessary documents, such as identification cards or any other forms of identification that may be required. It’s also essential to familiarize yourself with the registration procedures and deadlines to avoid any last-minute complications.

The first phase of the registration process for the upcoming Somaliland presidential as well as party elections will continue until June 9, 2023. Voters must be at least 18 years old and must have a valid Somaliland passport or national ID card in order to register.

The voter registration process is being overseen by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC). The NEC has set up registration centers in all of Somaliland’s six regions. Voters can register at their designated centers during the registration period. You can find a list of registration centers on the website of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The NEC has urged all eligible voters to register to vote. They have said that voter registration is essential to ensure that the election is free and fair.

The procedure to be followed at the precinct for voter registration.

The upcoming Somaliland presidential election is scheduled to be held within the president’s term extension period. The incumbent president, Muse Bihi Abdi, is eligible to seek a second term in office. However, he has not yet announced whether he will do so.

The elections are also expected to be a test of the Somaliland government’s commitment to democracy. The government has been accused of delaying the elections and of trying to rig the results in its favor. However, the government has denied these allegations.

The outcome of the election will have a significant impact on Somaliland’s future. If Bihi is re-elected, he will likely continue the government’s current policies. However, if an opposition candidate is elected, it could lead to a change in direction for Somaliland.

Somaliland elections are significant events, and they will be closely watched by the international community.

Somaliland NEC members with UK delegation led by the new Ambassador to Somalia & head of FCDO office in Somalia

The election is also expected to have an impact on Somaliland’s relationship with Somalia. The Somali government does not recognize Somaliland as an independent state and always impedes its quest for international recognition. However, the outcome of the election could lead to a change in Somalia’s attitude towards Somaliland.

Somalia announced on May 28, 2023, that it would introduce direct universal suffrage in 2024. This marks a significant change from the country’s current system of indirect elections, which are based on clan representation. The decision to introduce direct universal suffrage was made after a four-day meeting in Mogadishu between the Somali government and federal member states.

Unlike Somaliland, implementing a one-person, one-vote (1P1V) election system in Somalia is a complex challenge due to the country’s unique failed state:

  • Security and Stability: Somalia has faced significant security challenges, including the presence of armed groups and regional conflicts. Establishing a secure environment where citizens can freely exercise their voting rights across the entire country is crucial for a successful 1P1V election.
  • Logistics and Electoral Staff: Somalia’s logistics including transportation needs significant improvement to support a nationwide election. Adequate infrastructure is necessary for voter registration, ballot distribution, and the counting and reporting of results.
  • Political Consensus: Somalia is a federal republic and achieving a broad political consensus among the federal government, regional administrations, and other key stakeholders is essential for implementing electoral reforms.

Given these sets of obstacles that Somaliland has overcome more than three decades ago, Somalia has a difficult and lengthy road ahead of it before completely implementing a 1P1V system., and barely recent narratives out of Mogadishu amounts to wishful thinking.

Guest Piece first published on here 


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