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Somaliland’s Forthcoming Presidential Election Is Predicted
By Dr. Mohamed A Omar, London, UK
With a view to the upcoming presidential election, Somaliland’s contemporary political narrative points to a potential winner. If the current national context is anything to go by, Kulmiye should get ready for office, and Mr. Ahmed Sillanyo can start rewriting his long overdue inaugural speech.
While Mr. Rayale and his administration are contemplating change of foreign and defense policies, as stated by his foreign Minister recently, Somaliland’s electorate is planning for a change of leadership. Up and down the country, the change agents are in operation. In Sool, the deputy parliamentary speaker, a heavyweight MP from Kulmiye, Mr Bashe M Farah, has been making positive headway in Las’anod. In Buro, local elders and political leaders from all sides of the city have invited Mr. Sillanyo and declared their full support. In Northwest region, already Kulmiye stronghold, the pledge has been reconfirmed. And, community leaders and politicians, hailing from Awdal, have held public meetings in support of Kulmiye. In short, Somaliland’s electorate is increasingly taking pro-Kulmiye stand.
As Kulmiye celebrates this success, Udub, the ruling party and Kulmiye’s main challenger, loses ground. There are many reasons are for the loss but they mainly centre on government’s lack of commitment to adhere to the constitution, absence of accountability, interference with the judicial system and denial of civil and political rights. The recent ban on Qaran and the arrest of its leaders is a case in point. The attack on Qaran represents a blow on Udub’s credibility as a responsible ruling party.
This was not an isolated incident. Earlier this year, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, a journalist and publisher, along side with two other journalists have been sent to jail. Despite the fact that the allegation brought against them was slander, they were held in a maximum-security jail and were treated as though they had been a threat to the national security. Several other newsmen have had similar ordeals recently. Also in this year, the security agents have targeted Mr. Muse Bihi Abdi, a prominent Kulmiye politician for expressing his views. The decision to arrest him has been halted last minute amid speculations of civil unrest.
As regards with the constitution, the government made a habit of interpreting ambiguous laws to its advantage, ignored laws passed by the parliament and introduced draconian and unconstitutional laws. This has negatively impacted on the democratization process and state building.
What is even more damaging is the government’s lack of accountability. No financial report has been made available for parliamentary scrutiny since Rayale came to power. And the government is extremely cagey about its procurement details and international trade and investment deals. The recent row over the controversial budget proposal relating to the presidential office reveals even deeper financial management misconduct. This is only the top of the iceberg.
On the issue of Sool and east Sanaag, the picture is gloomy too. Udub administration has lost full control over Sool, and its recent myopic operation in east Sanaag has indicated how government is ill-equipped in resolving the matter.
The reality is that under Udub, Somaliland has become poorer, lost control over parts of its land, suffered a loss of civil rights, and has been subjected to controlled judicial system and constitutional violations.
Instead of addressing these concerns, Mr Rayale may choose to rely on numbers as a tool to extend his tenure. He would probably say that he costs the nation less than his predecessor by asking 1.29% of the total national budget. He may add that he has succeeded 300 million US Dollars worth of international investment pledge. He may also mention that he is planning to build 3 factories, 3 main roads, 2 bridges and that he will create an employment opportunities for 5000 workers.
To counter balance these figures, Kulmiye leaders will have to set the emotional agenda of the nation first, before they present their interventions. They will need to attach to each of Rayale’s figures with a heavy moral and emotional price tag by reminding the electorate of the realities behind the figures. Kulmiye can use numbers too, but they will have to be at the service of eliciting a feeling, moral outrage, a value of fairness and justice. This is what wins you elections more than numbers and abstract plans.
As it stands today, Kulmiye appears to be winning the upcoming presidential election. However, Kulmiye needs to strike a chord with the nation, which has to be located within the context of Somaliland’s shared and contemporary experience. And finally, Kulmiye will have to stick with the current leader and avoid a leadership contest. Voters are usually moved by leaders with whom they feel an emotional resonance. Mr Ahmed Sillanyo is, surely, one of those.
Dr. Mohamed A Omar, London, UK
Senior lecturer, IOE, University of London