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The Impact of Postponing Political Elections in Somaliland

Somaliland, a self-declared independent state located in the Horn of Africa, has been striving for stability and democratic governance since its separation from Somalia in 1991. With its own government, military, currency, and legal system, Somaliland has emerged as a unique entity in the region. One of its notable achievements has been the successful organization of free and fair elections, setting an example for other African nations. However, the recent decision to postpone political elections in Somaliland, due to a disagreement between major political parties regarding the sequence of elections, has raised concerns about the potential consequences for democracy, political stability, and socio-economic development. This essay aims to analyze the impact of postponing political elections in Somaliland, exploring the reasons behind the decision, its potential consequences, and the importance of open and transparent communication in addressing public concerns.

Somaliland, situated in the northwest of Somalia, has a population of approximately 4.5 million people. Since its declaration of independence, Somaliland has made significant strides in establishing democratic institutions and holding regular elections. These elections have been widely regarded as free and fair by international observers, showcasing Somaliland’s commitment to democratic principles and transparent electoral processes. In a region often plagued by political instability and electoral irregularities, Somaliland stands as a beacon of democracy, setting an example for other African nations.

However, the recent disagreement between the major political parties in Somaliland regarding the sequence of elections has resulted in the postponement of political elections. The ruling party and the opposition have divergent views on whether the presidential election should take place first or be followed by the party elections that determine the three major political parties participating in formal politics for the next decade. This disagreement has created a contentious political environment, jeopardizing the stability that Somaliland has worked hard to achieve.

To fully understand the impact of postponing political elections, it is crucial to delve into the specific positions of the ruling party and the opposition. The ruling party believes that holding the party elections first is essential for maintaining stability within the political landscape, while the opposition argues that the presidential election should take precedence to ensure a legitimate mandate for the elected government. This disagreement not only highlights differing visions for the future of Somaliland but also exposes potential power struggles and political maneuvering that can undermine the democratic process.

The consequences of postponing political elections in Somaliland extend beyond the immediate concerns of democracy. Political stability is closely linked to the timely organization of elections, as they provide a legitimate framework for governance and a peaceful transition of power. The disagreement between political parties has created uncertainty and a power vacuum, increasing the potential for political tensions and instability. This volatile situation can lead to protests, violence, and a loss of public trust in the democratic process.

The violent clashes in August, as well as the opposition’s threat to no longer recognize the government led by President Muse Bihi, highlight the potential consequences of the current political impasse. Increased political tensions can further escalate into social unrest, jeopardizing the hard-earned stability of Somaliland. It is essential to recognize that the consequences of postponing elections extend far beyond the political realm. The overall socio-economic development of Somaliland is at stake, as political instability hampers progress and discourages investment and international partnerships.

Moreover, the postponement of elections raises questions about the government’s commitment to upholding democratic principles and respecting the will of the people. Open and transparent communication becomes crucial in addressing public concerns and ensuring public trust. The government must take responsibility for effectively communicating the reasons behind the decision and engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders. Clear explanations should be provided to regain public confidence in the electoral process and demonstrate a commitment to democratic values.

In addition to the government’s responsibility, civil society organizations and the international community play crucial roles in supporting transparent communication efforts. Civil society organizations can act as intermediaries, fostering dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition, and amplifying the voices of the people. The international community, as a trusted partner of Somaliland, should encourage political elites to find a consensus path forward and offer to mediate if necessary. By volunteering to serve as guarantors for any resolution that emerges, the international community can reinforce public confidence in the electoral process and support the stability of Somaliland.

Somaliland’s hard-earned stability and international recognition are at risk. The postponement of elections and the ongoing political dispute threaten to undermine the region’s democratic trajectory. To mitigate these challenges, it is essential for Somaliland’s political elites to prioritize the interests of the nation above their individual party agendas. A consensus must be reached on the sequencing of elections, ensuring a fair and inclusive process that upholds democratic values.

In conclusion, the postponement of political elections in Somaliland due to a disagreement between major political parties presents significant challenges to democracy, political stability, and socio-economic development. To fully understand the impact, it is necessary to explore the specific positions of the ruling party and the opposition. The consequences extend beyond the immediate concerns and raise questions about the government’s commitment to democratic principles. 

Open and transparent communication, along with mediation efforts by the international community, can help address public concerns and foster a path forward. By finding a consensus and rescheduling the elections, Somaliland can safeguard its hard-earned stability, preserve its democratic reputation, and continue its progress toward international recognition.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sayidcali Ismail AhmedSayidcali Ahmed is a MasterCard Foundation’19 scholar currently studying at Westminster College (USA), double majoring in Political Science and Global and Transnational Studies. He works for the senate of the Student Government Association and as a treasurer of the Global Development and Progress Club. Ahmed also serves as a resident advisor and Math tutor. In addition, Ahmed is a fellow of The Public Policy & International Affairs Program at Princeton University. After graduating from Westminster College, Ahmed plans to pursue a career in public policy, especially in Education Policy and Analysis (EPA), to participate in policy development, research, analysis, and organizational leadership in developing countries and worldwide.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints of Somaliland Chronicle, and its staff. 

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Notice: This is an article by Somaliland Chronicle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Under this license, all reprints and non-commercial distribution of this work is permitted.

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