The election modalities expounded in the letter by the Speaker of the Somali Federal Parliament, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdurahman, has to “the European Union, United Kingdom, United Nations and United States” reflect how out of sync the Parliament is with Federal Member States and national politics. Last December, the Parliament passed an electoral law. As Halima Ismail Ibrahim, the Chair of National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), said at the Universal TV Doodwadaag (Debate) Programme the electoral model will get implemented when stakeholders “reach a consensus”.
One point in the Speaker’s letter stands out. ” The Somaliland issue will be treated as a special case and the Parliament will adopt a separate resolution where [sic] the Somaliland will have separate arrangements for the election of the Somaliland seats. During the drafting of the proposed Somaliland resolution, the Parliament will closely work with NIEC to identify and resolve any technical issues that may affect its implementation.” At Doodwadaag Programme Halima said NIEC “will not be involved in the preparation of the electoral law. It is the remit of the Federal Parliament.” The Speaker’s claim calls the independence of NIEC into question.
Somaliland Government has not participated in elections for the Mogadishu-based federal institutions. Two years ago, the International Community rejected the request of Jamal Mohamed Hassan, the Federal Planning Minister, to rescind the Special Arrangement that enable Somaliland to receive development aid directly due its track record of governance and successful conducting of parliamentary and presidential elections since 2003.
Somaliland Government has always distanced itself from the Federal Government policies and objected to the proposal to lift the arms embargo on Somalia. Puntland State has never raised any objections about repeated attempts by the Federal Government to have arms embargo lifted although Somalia does not have an inclusive National Army. Efforts to rebuild the Somali National Army have skewed the make-up of the “army” towards Mogadishu and nearby regions. This policy choice has implications for the stabilisation strategies for Somalia. The Somali political class plants seeds of future conflict while deepening Somalia’s dependency on Amisom as long inclusivity remains a discarded benchmark for funding the Somali National Army.
The 2017 enhanced elections in Somalia was partly made possible by the decision of Puntland State to adopt 4.5 power-sharing formula for federal elections on the condition that subsequent elections “will be based on one person, one vote”. The 2016 agreement signed in Garowe by the former Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid A. Sharmarke, and former Puntland State President, Dr Abdiweli M. Ali, entitles Puntland to federally represent some constituencies in the Ex-British Somaliland on the basis of “1998 Puntland Charter” although most of those territories come under the jurisdiction of Somaliland Government.
The Parliamentary Speaker’s letter could trigger a constitutional crisis if Puntland rejects election modalities the Federal Parliament is hammering out with NIEC. Constitutional crisis might give the incumbent government an opportunity for term extension despite the strongly worded statement of Somalia’s International Partners about 2021 elections.