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Hoop La Voila, Uncertain Aura
The vast majority of people in Somaliland had their hopes high when the first democratically elected parliament in the country was sworn in late last year. The prevailing supposition was that an opposition-dominated assembly would take the nation’s democratic record a level up, increasing performance of state organs.
However, from the start, many, including myself, had a reservation about this kind of assumption, particularly the incoming parliamentarians’ ability to hold the formidable political formation in the country together. Recent political developments in Hargeysa attest to my concern as the new parliament fails to operate within the contextual reality in Somaliland.
The unnecessary controversy surrounding the extension of duration for the upper house is partly due to the new member’s inability to solve issues through consensus. Members are profoundly divided in this issue.
UCID and KULMIYE members see the house of elders as an UDUB chamber that will block any action they could have taken against the executive. The opposition’s main line of argument revolves around presumed unconstitutionality of the extension of duration for the Guurti.
UDUB’s strongest point was not legality but rather impracticality of holding consecutive elections within a short period of each other, against an annual budget of 26m. The opposition did not buy this even though this was good enough a reason for the extension of present Guurti life.
Derivations that can be made from this kind of rejection are quite limited and leave one with no alternative other than contemplating that the opposition parties just want to get the present elders out of their way so as to replace the presidency.
Replacing the presidency would not be such a bad idea at all but, however, replacement is dangerous when the trade-off is uneven and the replacor is not any better than the replaced.
The present heads of opposition parties for whom the presidency seat are groomed are quite unfit for the position given their past record and present political extremity. This might be little too judgmental but quite rightly very observable.
Warabe, the chairman of Ucid, is very much preoccupied with Sool, preferring war to dialogue to bring the eastern provinces under control. Likewise, he is quite sensitive to the issue of talking to Mogadishu, even though, that is the only viable way a divorce from Somalia could be made peacefully.
Sillanyo is not any better as he is known for his hard-die belief in SNMism, which was – regardless of the rightfulness of her struggle – , by large a clan based movement almost exclusive to Isaaq, of which I am a ‘member’ (a note for those who see in clannish lenses). This is not to suggest that Sillanyo is an outright clannist, but so long as he relies on SNM as the core formation of his political base, the upshot of his approach will make him one. In essence, the communal balance in the country would disappear.
Worth mention is also the fact that political parties in Somaliland are not themselves as democratic as they are depicted. Neither the ruling party nor the opposition parties hold fair grassroots party elections. These make the political establishments in Somaliland inequitable in the first place.
On moral grounds, opposition leaders elsewhere normally resign from party leadership if they loose an election, something that Warabe and Sillanyo should have done too. In fact, had they done so, talk of replacing Rayale would not now raise an eyebrow.
On the other hand, the new parliament’s determination to impose a purist western model of governance that ignores the local context could easily jeopardise the mixed-model fragile system in place. Fears stemming from the new members diasporic outlook and probably the consequences that can be inherited from introducing drastic changes lacking parity with the local context are now ripe.
Of course, nothing is wrong with borrowing a leave from the west and or the application of effectively working system, for that matter, from afar places into the locale but when such a system is introduced in a manner incommensurate with the local context, there is a call for concern.
In the Somali culture, the clan identity overrides everything except ‘may be’ faith. Typically, political equation in Somaliland is scaled to clan sums. The opposition seems have started ignoring the local context by overlooking the clan factor in the political equation.
There is a general acknowledgement that a speedy transformation failed in the past and is bound for failure again. The new parliament exemplifies such failure as it has already begun to be characterised by clannish inclinations and backyard irregularities informed by the so-called collective clan interest.
Few days ago close to ten MPs from UCID nearly broke ranks with their party policy, of course, because of behind-the-door clannish manoeuvres. Having observed this, one gets inclined to conclude that the only sensible approach through which we can move away from the clan quota is to facilitate a gradual transition rather than hasty shift.
It is noteworthy that the much praised peace and stability in Somaliland are achieved through a mix of local and western model.
The opposition parties have endangered this by employing a ‘winner takes it all’ purist western model when the two parties agreed to make the speaker of parliament some one who is not from Sool as should have been the case had the idea of balance still played a role in their thinking.
The overwhelming aura and enthusiasm greeted with the new parliament, seems to be in shatters now. Next time, we should rather be cautious about that which we celebrate.