Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates

Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates
Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates.

Despite facing internal conflicts and ongoing political instability, President Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland has officially declared the dates for the general and presidential elections.

The general elections are scheduled to take place on 28 December 2023, while the presidential elections will follow on November 13, 2024. The announcement comes after the Somaliland Electoral Commission had previously set these dates.

The decision to hold the party elections first has created political tensions and led to armed unrest within Somaliland. This has resulted in the emergence of the Garhajis militias, which have been responsible for clashes with the Somaliland army in the Sanaag and Sahil regions. These armed groups, associated with the Garhajis sub-clan, have been engaging in violent confrontations against the government.

Most recently, a new branch of the Garhajis militia, known as the Eastern Garhajis, has been detected on the outskirts of Erigavo, the capital and largest city of Sanaag. This group has threatened the Somaliland government with war. In a video that circulated, one of the militants claimed that they took up arms to protect Somaliland from the “dictatorship of Muse Bihi Abdi”, referring to President Abdi, who recently confirmed the extension of his term in office.Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates

The announcement of the election dates comes at a critical juncture for Somaliland, as the country faces significant challenges, including political divisions, security threats, and grievances over the electoral process. The decision to extend President Abdi’s term has been met with widespread criticism and accusations of him consolidating his power. This has further deepened the divisions within Somaliland’s political landscape, sparking tensions between various clans and sub-clans.

However, President Abdi defends his decision, stating that the extension is necessary to ensure the stability of Somaliland during these turbulent times. He argues that the delay in holding the elections is due to logistical and security concerns, as well as the need to implement much-needed electoral reforms to ensure a fair and transparent process.

The announcement of the election dates is a step towards resolving the political impasse and moving towards a peaceful transition of power. It provides an opportunity for Somaliland to address the grievances and concerns of its citizens and work towards strengthening its democratic institutions. The international community has also called for a peaceful and inclusive electoral process, urging all parties involved to engage in dialogue and pursue a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.

The Somaliland Electoral Commission has recently sparked controversy with its announcement of the election schedule in mid-July. This decision comes on the heels of a highly debated move by Somaliland’s House of Elders to extend the presidential term of Muse Bihi by two years, effectively prolonging his total tenure to 7 years. The opposition leaders are not shy in expressing their disapproval, accusing Mr. Bihi of undermining the democratic process and refusing to adhere to the scheduled election timeline.

With the extension of the presidential term, Somaliland now finds itself in the company of other nations known for their leaders’ lengthy reigns, not necessarily by choice, but by means of constitutional amendments. Countries like Burundi and Equatorial Guinea have had to adopt such reforms to prolong their leaders’ stay in power, and it is disheartening to see Somaliland heading down a similar path.

Understanding the dynamics of the Somaliland Electoral Commission is crucial to comprehend the gravity of this controversy. The commission comprises seven members, three of whom are nominated by the President of Somaliland, two by the House of Elders, and two by opposition parties. These nominations are then confirmed by the House of Representatives. While the process may seem fair and equitable at first glance, a deeper analysis reveals a clear disparity in power allocation within this supposedly independent body.

Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates
Somaliland Elections: President Bihi announces official dates.

The fact that the President holds the power to nominate three members immediately tilts the scale in favor of the incumbent leader. This lopsided distribution of nominations raises concerns about the independence and impartiality of the commission. It becomes evident that those in power wield a significant influence over the electoral process, potentially jeopardizing the chances of fair and transparent elections.

The controversy surrounding the SEC’s decision is not limited to just the extended presidential term. The concern also lies in the potential manipulation of the election schedule. The announcement of the mid-July election date has left many questioning the motives behind such a decision. Skepticism arises when one considers the accusations made by opposition leaders, claiming that Muse Bihi aims to consolidate his power by manipulating the timing of the elections.

By announcing the election schedule in mid-July, Mr. Bihi effectively narrows the window for opposition parties to prepare and campaign adequately. This limitation on their campaign time gives the incumbent an unfair advantage, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.

In a country that aspires to be a shining example of democracy in a region fraught with political instability, it is disheartening to witness such questionable practices. Somaliland’s electoral process should be a beacon of transparency, fairness, and inclusivity. Unfortunately, recent decisions and actions have cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity of the upcoming elections.

It is crucial for all stakeholders involved, particularly the Somaliland Electoral Commission, to uphold their responsibility to the people and the democratic principles they are meant to protect. Transparency, independence, and fairness should form the pillars on which the electoral process stands. The concerns raised by opposition leaders must be addressed, and measures must be taken to ensure that the election is conducted in a manner that is free from manipulation and bias.

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