On January 15th of this year, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo named a commission for the registration and selection of political parties, but at least half of the parties are crying foul over the commission's recent rulings. Somaliland formally adopted a multi-party system in August 2011.
During the registration process, 15 political parties started their campaign throughout the six regions of the self declared state of Somaliland by calling on their supporters to attend public rallies in major cities in order to fulfil the required conditions. The campaigns were conducted in a peaceful manner, and there were no reports of violence. On the 20th of April, the qualifying parties were announced by the Somaliland Commission for Registration and Selection of political parties.
The commission announced the parties which had fulfilled the requirements and those that failed to meet the set criteria. Only 6 out of the 15 new political parties fulfilled all requirements for registration.
The Council of Registration invited party leaders and other stakeholders to Maansoor Hotel in Hargeysa where they officially announced the qualifying parties. Security was tight as many police officers were deployed to the scene. The Registration and Selection Commission, the Somaliland Electoral Commission and party leaders attended the meeting.
Abdalla Ibrahim Mohamed, the deputy commissioner, made the announcement, “After examining and verifying the information of the political parties, we realized that only 6 parties had fulfilled the conditions that were given by the government. The qualifying parties are Wadani, Dalsan, Rays, Umada, Nasiye and Xaqdhowr. The other nine parties which are Nuur, Damal, Horyaal, NDB, Badbaado, Gurmad, Udhis, Jamhuuriga and SSCD have not fulfilled the requirements. This is our final decision and parties are able to appeal," Mr Ibrahim Mohamed told Somalia Report.
Hassan Ahmed Duale “Moalim”, the spokesman for the commission, confirmed only 6 parties were allowed to register.
“We started registering political parties on January 15th of this year. We had several lengthy discussions about the qualifications with the parties and found that only six are suitable and fit the criteria of political parties. I am calling upon them to observe and obey the law of Somaliland, the culture and the Islamic religion," Du’ale told Somalia Report.
Mr Duale described the major conditions necessary for qualification of a political party:
“The biggest conditions are; they have to have an office in all the six regions of Somaliland, they must register at least 1000 members from each province and give them party identification, they must organize a national meeting in the capital, and they have to act within the laws of Somaliland. After this, they can stand for local government elections. We also find out the source of funding of the parties to ensure that they are legally financed," he added.
Party leaders from the rejected parties such as those from NDP, Udhis, Horyaal and Gurmad rejected the announced result, saying it was unacceptable and unfair.
Fauzia Yusuf Haji, the chairwoman of NDB, the first and the only woman to have formed a political party in Somaliland, was jailed and beaten with dozens of her supporters by Somaliland government.
“The announcement was unfair and we are not satisfied. Our party fulfilled all the necessary conditions. The selection of parties was not transparent. The commission even refused to meet with us despite NDP having 300,000 registered supporters throughout Somaliland. There are some organizations that didn't even campaign and were given the approval letters. When we asked the commission to produce clearing letters and justify why they rejected our party, they kept silent. That shows us they are not ready to correct mistakes they have made against us and the people of Somaliland. Also, the government is backing the commission,” Miss Yusuf told Somalia Report.
The chairman of Udhis party, Mr. Ibrahim Abdilahi Hussein Dhegoweyne, expressed his frustration with the outcome.
“Our party had influential people and we met all the requirements. We believe it was a plan that only six parties were selected. We are not accepting the results and we are going to start demonstrations, and call our supporters to come to the streets," he said.
“The announcement was a plan made before by the commission, and they prepared their own things but they must prove this in front of the people and the law. We will go to court," he added.
Miss Fosiyo accused the government of torturing and humiliating her supporters.
“During the preparation for our demonstration, the Rapid Response unit and Anti Terror Forces were deployed against us. 30 of our supporters were detained for one day. Ten of our party officials and I were jailed for four hours without reason in Hargeysa. My supporters were humiliated and tortured by the Anti Terror police. We are denied our rights, we are not allowed to talk, we are made speechless by the government, we are under pressure, and no one is respecting our request and suggestions. I call on the international community and donors to intervene and demand accountability for their funds which are used to beat us," Fosiyo told Somalia Report.
On the other hand, Somaliland Internal Security Minister Mohamed Nur Aarrale (Duur), warned any party which tries to create violence or protest.
“Somaliland is a peaceful country. We have our own security forces and any party which is not satisfied by the law, commission of registration or government is not a party of Somaliland. And anyone who tries to start hostility in this country will not be allowed to and we will take action against them. We will not let those people destroy what we were building for the last twenty years. We will show them that there is a powerful government," Araale Nur declared.
Sultan Mohamed Abdulqadir, one of the oldest Somaliland elders, called on both the Somaliland state and the political parties to remain calm.
“I call on unsuccessful parties not to demonstrate. A strike can bring violence in our land. We are not going to demolish our country with our own hands," he said.
Then again, Nuur Farah HirsI, the chairman of Gurmad, one of the unsuccessful parties, was banned from holding a rally in Erigavo, Sanaag region. He claimed that they completed all the requirements for a political rally, but it was halted by government officials and security forces, sources close to Mr. Hirsi told Somalia Report.
“The governor, Adan Diriye Geljire and police commissioner of Erigavo, Mohamed Jama, went to the home of Mr. Xirsi and they told him that he cannot talk to the people of Erigavo and he must go back to Buroa. After a meeting, Mr. Farah was forced to leave the city, without talking to his supporters," claimed the source.
Yusuf Ismail Ali, the Chairman of the High court of Somaliland, said that he has not received any complaints from political parties.
“The country’s justice system is independent from the government and the government does not dictate to us. So far, the high court has not received any formal complaints from the political parties that failed to meet the requirements. If they reach out to us, we will review their complaints and will take the suitable action."
While many political leaders are angry about the decision by the commission, elsewhere, the chairpersons of successful parties held a joint meeting to congratulate the commission of registration for their effort.
Abdurahman Mohamed Abdullahi, the chairman of parliament and leader of Wadani party talked to Somalia Report about the results.
“We are very happy with the outcome. We welcome the decision and selection by the commission for political parties. This is a victory for the people of Somaliland. The commission has done the right job at the right time. We request them to schedule elections," said Mr. Abdullahi.
Mohamed Abdi Gabose the chairman of Umada expressed his happiness at his party’s victory and being one of the six qualifying parties.
“Umada party and its officials congratulate the commission. This was fair and we are very happy to be among the selected six. My party fulfilled all the requirements," he told Somalia Report.
Ahmed Musa, a Hargeisa-based political analyst disagrees.
“If I look at the matter of political parties and their approval, it seems it was not conducted fairly. Let me give you examples. Most of the selected parties were chaired by politicians who are holding different positions in the current government. Secondly, the commission stated that they will accept any complaints and so far they haven't talked to any one of the aggrieved parties. The third point is that this commission is required to produce a letter articulating how and why these nine organizations failed; the commission has done nothing about that. On the other hand, the government put pressure on the protestors and political leaders. All these points show us that there is something messy. Perhaps the government, commission and key politicians of the elected parties agreed at some points to drop the nine parties,” he explained.
Political tension in Somaliland is rising every day and especially in key cities like Hargeysa, Erigavo, Burao and Berbera. The government and its security forces are controlling the matter, while the disqualified but influential political parties are angry with the government whom they accuse of not listening to them and pressuring them.
While there have been no casualties from the demonstrations that took place after the announcement by the commission, the situation remains unpredictable as the disqualified party leaders and followers nurse their anger. They may fail to heed the call for calm by local elders.