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QARAN’s Letter To The Representatives Of The International Community
“ Somaliland’s democracy is based on the multiparty system (see article 9/1 of the Somaliland Constitution). It is on this basis that the next election is scheduled to take place at the municipal level on July 7, 2008 and the presidential election on Aug. 31, 2008.
We (Qaran Political Association) believe that we stand on strong legal ground when we assert that we have every right to participate in the coming local election, and if successful at that level, we also are aiming to contest in the presidential one as well. Our argument is not based on fancy legal footwork, nor do we seek to establish a new paradigm. What we are asking for, and in effect demanding, is to have the same chance and to have access to the same process the current existing parties went through when they qualified to become the three (3) national parties.
Replenishing our democracy with regular elections where the people have a real chance to choose among new and old ideas can only improve the chances of this young democracy to take roots in Somaliland. Allowing a larger participatory base (instead of just three parties) is also conducive to maintaining stability and curbs inevitable resentments generated when a given group is excluded from the process.
Unfortunately the current administration has chosen a different path, this path is one in which the rule of law and due process have taken a distinctive lesser role and are trumped by totalitarian tendencies disguised as a democratic exercise. Illegal detentions and draconian judgments issued by discredited courts have been deployed against us in order to keep us from exercising our most basic fundamental citizen rights, and that is to vote, or to be voted into office.
For all practical purposes this government has rendered us non citizens when it stripped from us our right to vote or to be voted into office. To add insult to injury, this action goes squarely against the Somaliland Constitution which guarantees the right to vote as a fundamental right that cannot be amended by any branch of government (Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive), see articles 22/2, 127/d and 130/5.
In addition the Somaliland administration is adamantly opposed to opening up the registration process for new political association, and entertaining the notion that the difficulty lies in time constraints instead of a stubborn president who steadfastly refuses to open a single registration office where new political entities can submit their papers is a false choice, and is one the EU and US donor nations should be wary of.
The solution does not lie in compelling us (Qaran) to join the existing three parties, if we felt they represented our ideals and values we would have done so without the hardship of detentions and all subsequent insults and harassments. For us, this is a matter of principle, the democratic principle which should be defended and safeguarded from the impulse of reaching and expedient solution which could result in depriving us of our most fundamental right.
Opening up the process not just for Qaran, but to all qualified contesters is not just the right thing to do, but will be an essential component in holding a peaceful and inclusive election in the country. Allowing parties in power to develop strategic chock holds that deny the rest of the population the true choice of democracy will foster discontent and may lead us to the path of unintended consequences.
We continue to be impressed by the strong support and special attention given to our case by the international community and are thankful for the opportunity provided to us by the Undersecretary for African Affairs Dr. Frazer on her recent visit to Hargeysa when she included us into her busy agenda and gave us a chance to make our case.
The EU has been equally forceful in delivering a strong message to the Somaliland administration as the letter from the EU president Mr. Jose Barroso to Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck the president of ELDR indicates where he points out that:
“The EC Special Envoy for Somalia has directly engaged with the Somaliland authorities on the issue of political associations being permitted to participate freely and, more generally, on the democratization process which should lead to Presidential and local elections in 2008, to be supported, inter alia, by the European Commission.
The EU remains committed to maintaining concerted pressure on the Somaliland government to address the ban on the formation of political association”
We remain committed to continue our struggle and redouble our efforts to bring about the change we seek peacefully and with deliberate care, and we hope all who value the democratic process, honest debate and the exchange of ideas in the political market place will stand with us.
As the famous slave abolitionary figure Fredrick Douglas once said “Power concedes nothing without demand”. This statement was true then and remains so today.
We are engaged in a good fight and we aim to stand firm on the solid grounds of democracy, legality and liberty.
It is our fervent hope that you will stand with us.
Dr. Mohamed A.Gabose
Source: Somaliland Times