Somaliland: developments in the political dispute over the opening of parties and its effects

The postponement of political elections in Somaliland resulted in a serious defect in the conformity of the legislation regulating the political process with the political process that was supposed to be regular. This led to political tension with an escalation in the tribal discourse, and this paper attempts to identify the implications of these developments.

Political tension is escalating in the Republic of Somaliland, declared on the eighteenth of May of 1991, the political entity that has not yet received international recognition, as a result of the heated dispute between the political parties in the country, over the law to open registration for new political associations, and Somaliland, which is considered one of the closest Political systems in the Horn of Africa are manifestations of democratic political action, which arose after the announcement of its separation from the Republic of Somalia, which was formed from the unit of the former British protectorate “Somaliland” and the Italian colony “Somalia”. The declaration of secession came as a reaction to the general feeling of marginalization, which was exacerbated by the repression practiced by the regime of General Mohamed Siad Barre, against the areas to which dignitaries, politicians, and officers returned, who tried to remove him from power through political and social movement in addition to military action.

And pushing for a transition from a state of conflict between the armed movements of the different tribes on the one hand, and their clan wings among themselves on the other hand, to the creation of a council of wise men, which in turn produced a council of elders that included representatives from most of the components of the region that includes the former British protectorate, whose name has since become a republic Somaliland, and from that stage, the internationally unrecognized republic began to gradually move from indirect elections to electing presidents and legislative councils through the ballot boxes, starting in 2002; The first elections for municipal councils were held, marking the beginning of the completion of the manifestations of political work.

The course of political elections in Somaliland

Somaliland moved after the two terms of rule of presidents “Abdul Rahman Mahmoud Ali” and “Muhammad Haj Ibrahim Akal” from the stage of declaring the nascent state, establishing its pillars, and indirect elections, during that period from 1991 to 2002, through the establishment of the Senate “Gorti” “The drafting of the constitution and the referendum on it in 2001.

With President Tahir Riali Kahin assuming power in 2003, a new era began in which the adoption of the democratic process as an agreed upon method for the peaceful transfer of power was settled. Municipal elections were held in 2002, and parliamentary elections in 2005, and two presidential elections were held in In 2007 and 2012, the first president, Tahir Reyali Kahin, won for the United People’s Democratic Party “UDUB,” and the second, former president, Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud “Silanio,” won the presidency for the Solidarity Party “Kulmiye,” which led to the defeat of the “UDUB” party.The ruling, and the retirement of its leader, the priest of political work, led to a leadership crisis in the party that caused the dissolution of the party, while the Justice and Development Party “UCID”, the oldest on the political scene in Somaliland, maintained its presence as a competitor in the presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, despite the defection of the current leader of the National Party “WADDANI” Abd al-Rahman Abdullah Arro, who was the deputy head of the party and the speaker of the parliament for the party, announced the establishment of a “national party”, which inherited the place of the dissolved “UDUB” party, and whose deputies were distributed among the three Ummah parties.

In its new form, following municipal elections held in 2012Abd al-Rahman Abdullah Arro, on his behalf, who was the party’s vice president and speaker of the parliament, announced the establishment of a “national party,” which inherited the place of the dissolved “UDUB” party, and whose deputies were distributed among the three nation’s parties in its new form. Following municipal elections held in 2012Abd al-Rahman Abdullah Arro, on his behalf, who was the party’s vice president and speaker of the parliament, announced the establishment of a “national party,” which inherited the place of the dissolved “UDUB” party, and whose deputies were distributed among the three nation’s parties in its new form. Following municipal elections held in 2012(1) .

Starting in 2011, the Parliament of the People’s Representatives of Somaliland approved the amendment of the Parties Law “The Law Regulating the Registration of Political Societies and Approval of Parties” No. 14/2000 and replacing Law No. 14 of 2011 with it, to be the control of the democratic political process in the country, to upgrade the deliberation process the peaceful form of power, to a more smooth and stable form, allowing to avoid the occurrence of political crises, which may arise from differences between the different parties, by limiting the process of competition for power between three parties, which were named in the law “the parties of the nation,” to distinguish them from the political associations that compete in Preliminary stages stipulated by the law, making the results of the municipal elections an indication of the qualification of major political societies in terms of representing the largest number of citizens, and distinguishing them from associations that are less fortunate in attracting voters, and Law 14/2011 stipulated in its fourth chapter and sixth article that “The three political parties/associations that garner 20% of the votes in each governorate of the country in the municipal elections become recognized as nation parties and are given a certificate stating that they are parties.”(2) .

The old party law and the necessity of amending it

Despite the repeated extensions and postponements of the elections since the start of the direct elections phase in Somaliland; Two municipal elections and two parliamentary elections were missed, and the presidential terms witnessed two extensions of two years each. The term of President Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Silanyo witnessed a delay in the electoral entitlement, including the elections for municipal councils, the House of Representatives and the Senate, which created a state of confusion in the The course of implementing the presidential decree under the name “The Law Regulating Political Associations and the Approval of Parties” is an amendment to the original Law (14/2000), which was approved on August 20, 2011, under the name Law (14/2011), and then it was further amended in December thirteenth of the same year, the extension obtained by Silanyo increased(3) .

Therefore, the Somaliland state sensed the seriousness of the political impasse towards which the democratic process is moving. This led to a proposal for an amendment to the law regulating the registration of political societies and the approval of parties. However, the dominance of the ruling party over the House of Representatives on the one hand, and the approaching presidential elections, led to a weak legislative and political dialogue about items that are likely to provoke differences in the political arena, and with the passage of a proposal Parliament a draft law to amend the provisions of Law (14/2011), under the name Law (14/2021), and deliberations took place on it in April of 2021, i.e., before the parliamentary elections that were held weeks after it, i.e. the 31st of May After the House of Representatives approved the bill on June 27 and presented it to the Senate, and the latter’s approval on June 28, 2021, the House of Representatives on the following day submitted the law to the President of the Republic for his signature, signature, or response.(4) .

 The positions of the three parties

The government led by the Solidarity Party “Kulmiye” adheres to the passage of the leave entitlement to political associations, as an entitlement whose time has come, and to focus on the importance of returning the political process to its regularity, after the delays in the parliamentary and municipal elections that harmed the compatibility of the legislative framework of the political process with the reality of the political arena itself, considering it a success. Which achieved in organizing the long-awaited municipal and parliamentary elections, a threshold from which to rearrange the political process, so that the defects and gaps that occurred in the previous period could be overcome, claiming that the government could hold primaries to qualify political societies for obtaining a political party license on the twenty-sixth From November, and considering the three Ummah parties as transitional parties, to make up for the expiration of their licenses, which falls on December 22 (5) .

While the opposition parties consider that the implementation of the elections under the current circumstances is unfavorable given the proximity of the presidential elections on the one hand, accusing the current president, Musa Bihi Abdi, of wanting to make these amendments and their requirements as a justification for postponing the presidential elections to be held on the thirteenth of November The second of this year, which necessarily means an extension of his presidential term, in addition to the ambiguity surrounding the issue of considering the three parties of the nation as transitional parties, with a clause deeming them ineligible to run in the elections – including the presidential one – until the results of the primaries appear, which will follow the presidential elections with three Ten days, holding the ruling party that holds power in the country for the second term responsible for the delays that occurred, asking it to bear the results of the delays that occurred during its tenure in holding the municipal and parliamentary elections, which lasted for seven years, bearing in mind that the previous party law considered political societies to contest the elections.

The municipality is the main mechanism for sorting out political societies, and a means of qualifying them to become one of the nation’s three parties, while the next municipal elections will not be held until four years from now, which requires a change in the law regulating the registration of political societies and the approval of parties, in a manner that will cause a major imbalance in The willingness of the opposition parties to fight it, the maintenance of the political arrangements within those parties, the connections and alliances that they built to ensure success in obtaining votes that would enable them to achieve their goals in reaching power, a defect that will lead to confusion that the opposition parties do not want to pay the price for. The culprit is the ruling party, And he must pay the price for his decisions according to her point of viewA major imbalance in the opposition parties’ willingness to fight it, and the maintenance of the political arrangements within those parties, and the connections and alliances that they built to ensure success in obtaining votes that would enable them to achieve their goals of reaching power, a defect that will lead to confusion that the opposition parties do not want to pay the price for. The ruling party, and it must pay the price for its decisions according to its point of viewA major imbalance in the opposition parties’ willingness to fight it, and the maintenance of the political arrangements within those parties, and the connections and alliances that they built to ensure success in obtaining votes that would enable them to achieve their goals of reaching power, a defect that will lead to confusion that the opposition parties do not want to pay the price for. The ruling party, and it must pay the price for its decisions according to its point of view(6) .

Motives for the difference in the positions of political parties

At a time when the government led by the Solidarity Party “Kulmiye” believes that there is no escape from the political associations, the two opposition parties believe that the clearing at the present time and in its current form, aims to break up the electoral bloc represented by the two opposition parties, especially the National Party “WADDANI”, given the the existence of accusations against the ruling party of supporting the establishment of political associations directed at specific groups, in terms of the affiliation of the leaders of the new associations to the same clans of the leaders with the largest weight in the National Party “WADDANI”, which means squandering the capabilities and resources of that party in an attempt to save its supporters from scattering along clan and sub-clan lines. , leaving the broader political space open for the Solidarity Party “Kulmiye”The ruler, leaning on his influence and the resources available to him as the ruling party of course, and the opposition party’s objection is focused on provisions that allow the government to dominate the election of the committee charged with managing the process of clearing associations and parties, and following up on the progress of those organizations fulfilling the conditions stipulated in the law, especially the third paragraph of Article 8, which states, “Parties whose license expires during the period of party ratification cannot participate in presidential, parliamentary and regional elections, and they will remain temporary parties until direct elections are held and qualify as nation parties.”(7) .

Reasons for the Supreme Court’s decision and legal controversy

The opposition parties’ criticism of the efforts to activate the amended parties law has escalated, and despite the general welcome, it was tinged with caution regarding the entitlement to allow the registration of new political associations, and opening the way for them to operate freely in the country’s political arena, and differing views on how, which led to the intervention of the Supreme Court to find A legal way out, allowing compromise.

Supporters of the ruling party see the importance of enforcing the amendments moved by the party’s representatives in Parliament, and considering the parties’ law, which many believe passed without a presidential response, to exceed the stipulated period according to Articles 77 and 78 of the Constitution, while supporters of opposition parties welcome opening the door. For the new political associations in a fictitious form, according to the Political Societies Law issued in 2011, and considering the stage as an extension of the period of delays that marred the municipal and parliamentary electoral process, and postponing the necessity of releasing the associations, by extending the licenses of the three parties of the nation, to run in the presidential elections on the status quoThe current parties, and the continuation of these parties as they are until the holding of the next municipal elections, to be held in the year 2026, at which time the licenses of the nation’s parties will automatically fall, and they will turn again into political associations that compete with other political associations to obtain a place for them at the top of the political process in the country as parties his mom.

The inclusion of the name of the Supreme Court in political discussions about the disputed laws, as it is the final body authorized to adjudicate those disputes, coupled with media campaigns launched by the opposition targeting the court’s credibility, has led to great political pressure, which prompted it to deal with the two petitions submitted by members of the Bloc.

The ruling parliamentary party, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the petition submitted by individuals known for their political activities, in a way that ensured that it was out of the field of political bidding, by responding to the request for interpretation submitted by the representatives of the ruling party bloc, on the pretext that the book they submitted violated the preamble approved by the Applying to it, at a time when it accepted the petition of independent individuals, and based on it the position it announced regarding the current political dispute, in the light of the law in force.

Results of the Supreme Court’s decision

The Supreme Court of Somaliland received two petitions, one of which was submitted by forty-six deputies for the purpose of obtaining an interpretation of Law 14, and another on the twenty-first of December 2021, while twenty-four citizens submitted their petition, demanding the activation of the provisions of the law to allow the opening of political societies, Allow it to compete in the upcoming electoral benefits, foremost of which is the presidential elections to be held next November, and prepare to contest the elections for the upper house of parliament “the Senate” as well, which have not yet been determined. The approval of the Supreme Court for that request came Earlier, and on the basis of the aforementioned law through the fifth paragraph of its sixth article, which states: “A political association may be formed every ten years under this law. However, a political association must be formed at least six months before the date of the municipal council elections. “(8) .

The court’s careful handling of the two petitions submitted to it, along with the entire stifled political atmosphere, led the political parties in their entirety to express their satisfaction with the court’s position on the issue at hand, despite their deliberate not explicitly giving preference to either of the two laws involved in the dispute, but rather placing the contentious issues on the table for a political solution. ; As the court preferred to reject the petition of the representatives from the ruling party bloc in favor of the amendment to allow political associations, in favor of the petition of the group of citizens supporting the same amendment, claiming that there were procedural irregularities in the preamble to the petition of the representatives, so that it threw the ball in the court of the conflicting political parties, and through that the Supreme Court retains its position As a supreme state body, it is not subject to the domination of the current government, as well as closed the door to the opposition’s attempts to reap gains, through political and media escalation, under the threat of complicating the situation more than it threatens to prolong the political crisis, since time is not its ally.

Political escalation, calls for demonstrations and threats

Following the long-awaited municipal and parliamentary elections, the general feeling of dissatisfaction with the performance of the successive ruling government of the Solidarity Party “Kulmiye” led to its loss of the parliamentary and municipal majority, which meant the dominance of the opposition parties over the municipal and parliamentary councils in the state, which led to the two opposition parties being able to Communicating their objections to the overall course of the political process to the public, and calling on the government to find a solution to the impasses it has created during the past and current period, reinforced by the asceticism of the ruling party’s political leadership in reaching early settlements, in front of the demands of the two opposition parties, and the familiarity of the Colmé party, the legitimate heir of the national movement. Somali SNM, accusing the leaders of a national party of working for “Mogadishu”, caused the media and figures affiliated with them to resort to a political discourse that is considered dangerous, due to the transfer of clan oppositions to a new level by these means and personalities, to the point of questioning the legitimacy of the existing political system since the inception of Somaliland, by challenging the people and positions that established the establishment of the state in Somaliland.

Promoting a discourse of victimhood sees that the dispute goes beyond the mere political/legal dispute, but rather is a result of the outcomes of the civil conflict that the country witnessed in the early nineties, through a logic calling for the necessity of demolishing the existing to rebuild it again, by resorting to weapons and clan fighting.As the opposition parties continued their preparations to contest the presidential elections, the focus increased on the parties law, which was amended at a critical political period, which prompted the opposition to escalate political discourse on the one hand, and launch media campaigns of a clan nature, which led to tensions and alignments that are not guaranteed to benefit the people.

The various political parties, with fears of a regression towards the use of arms by opposition supporters, and the occurrence of defections in the armed forces, as happened at the hands of Colonel “Ara”, which lasted for more than one year, which portends cracks in the social structure, and raises a state of anxiety that has caused The slowdown in economic activity in the country, to make the bad economic situation worseWhich lasted for more than one year, which portends cracks in the social structure, and raises a state of anxiety that has caused a slowdown in economic activity in the country, to worsen the bad economic situationWhich lasted for more than one year, which portends cracks in the social structure, and raises a state of anxiety that has caused a slowdown in economic activity in the country, to worsen the bad economic situation(9) .

With the ruling party realizing the inability of the NDP leadership to change the status quo, given that it is a party to the political process through which most of the decisions, laws and extensions that created the current political impasse were passed, the government continued to ignore any demands that could change the stability that is in its interests.

What prompted the leader of a national party, “Abdul Rahman Arro”, on May 26, 2022, to call on his supporters, especially the young groups, to go out in demonstrations, saying: “Get ready to receive the government’s bullets in your chest.” Demonstrations, one of which took place in the capital, Hargeisa, resulting in injuries, while subsequent demonstrations were announced in the cities of “Barao”, the second city of Somaliland, and “Airgabo”, the capital of “Sanag” governorate, but the objections were raised by the people of the city of “Barao”. “On the impact of the demonstrations that coincided with university exams, and their impact on their children’s academic achievement, in addition to the departure of a group of dignitaries and traditional leaders on a tour across the country with the aim of putting an end to the possibility of political dispute spilling out into the street and out of control, which led the opposition to respond to these calls, awaiting an amendment The government’s position(10) .

The breakdown of talks and fears of a deteriorating political situation

In this country, if the fire breaks out, you are the ones who start it, and by that I mean your three parties, which cause us this short commotion, and if you are the cause of this commotion, it is your duty to restore peace to us. In the past period, you have brought something of fear into our hearts, and exchanged small and inappropriate words with you, and this dissonance that you disagreed with, all of this is not a cure, and it is not a health condition. A party, and I repeat: Let your dialogue be a matter of respite, and set a time for the completion of the dialogue… To notify us of its date and take a picture of your meetings, I mean to set a date for your first meeting… And I say to the three parties, Avoid any other concern, we are afraid, so do not cause us any concern. Resolve your differences in dialogue and brotherhood.”(11) .

However, the collapse of the talks adds more to the criticisms escalated by the two opposition parties, and some seeking to open political associations, all of which poured in considering the government’s behavior, devoid of good intentions, and even underestimating the dignitaries who were headed by the President of the Senate, after the government did not allow them to attend. talks between the ruling and opposition parties; This did not mean a great underestimation of them, which was highlighted by Representative Muhammad Aviv of the National Party representing Awdel Governorate, saying: “The government’s request from the mediation delegation of dignitaries not to witness the dialogue between the government and the opposition, was a great insult to them, as if the government did not need To them…. The government is invoking its commitment to the law when it comes to allowing parties, but it is also required to abide by the law in view of the severe beating and kicking of a girl during the demonstrations by a police officer of a reputable rank… The government is required to abide by the law when it arrests opposition politicians without face right..”(12) .

Political influence at the regional level

Somaliland, despite its lack of resources, is considered an exceptional political situation in the Horn of Africa, in terms of reaching a large degree of political and security stability, as a result of its success in reconciling religious values ​​and local traditions with the structure of the modern state, represented by creating democratic manifestations of the peaceful transfer of power, even if it is tainted This nascent experiment has many negatives, given that it did not transcend the outcomes of the conflict that produced it, and that the political process relied on tribal lines as an engine of political competition; This makes the country need more time to move to the stage of competition between political parties, on the basis of intellectual orientations that produce real political programs.

Likewise, the democratic political process in Somaliland is a focus of attention and aspiration for the peoples of the region, who suffer from political and security instability, and limited popular representation, as in the cases of “Mogadishu” and “Addis Ababa”, while it constitutes a case in contradiction to the political systems that find itself is on the cusp of a succession crisis, given that power has not been transferred for decades, as in the cases of “Djibouti” and “Asmara”. Therefore, it can be said that the human experience in Hargeisa can provide a prototype that proves the possibility of creating home-grown political systems that do not depend on the strength of state agencies, as much as they depend on opening the way for the various components of society to contribute to a clear role in decision-making. In the direction of reaching the extension of the sovereignty of the state over the entire territory, to the extent of extending the equitable representation of its inhabitants (13) .

a summary

The postponement of political elections in the period between 2010-2021 resulted in a serious imbalance in the legislation regulating the political process, with the political process that was supposed to be regular, which led to political tension with an escalation in the tribal discourse, resulting in threats to disrupt the security situation, and accompanied This is with the calls of the two opposition parties for their supporters to take to the streets and demonstrate, which resulted in more pressure on the difficult economic reality in the country, and the emergence of voices in the international community calling for pressure on the current administration, towards ensuring the smoothness of the political process, whatever the justifications.

One of the results of this was the resort of Somaliland society to traditional dispute resolution mechanisms that were the basis for building the state, and the intervention of the President of the Senate and eminent dignitaries, to call for a dialogue through which the political dispute could be brought together and prevented from spreading among the popular circles, in order to prevent it from turning into clan disputes that could lead to To disturbances undesirable consequences.

About the author


Mahmoud Mohamed Hassan

Director of the Hargeisa Center for Studies and ResearchREFERENCE

1.The government of Somaliland said that the UDUB party has self-destructed, Somali Diaspora News, 15 September 2012, Visited on: 24 June 2022,

See also: “I left the previous party, I entered a new organization, and the law allows it to be established, and the law is not dark, and I sit in the council as ….”, Horn of Africa, 13 October 2011, Visited on: 29 June 2022, bit. ly/3oeHVQj

 2. THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION SYSTEM ACT AND ITS AMENDMENTS, EFFECTED BY ACT No. 14/2011 Somaliland law, 22 December 2011, Visited on: 01 July 2022,

3. Extension period for Silanyo, VOA 11 May 2015, Visited on: 27 June 2022,

 And see also:                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND, Somaliland law, 30 APRIL 2000, Visited on: 30 June 2022,


5. How does Kulmiye see the law to reopen political organizations?, VOA, 28 June 2021, Visited on: 03 July 2022,

6. Ibrahim, Mohamed and Terlinden, Ulf, The Elephant, Somaliland’s Democracy Faces a Stress Test, 08 July 2022, Visited on: 09 July 2022,

7. READ THE ORGANIZATION SYSTEM AND POLITICAL PARTIES ACT LR. 14/2021, Berbera today, 28 June 2021, Visited on: 09 July 2022,

8.Press Conference by Twenty-Four Politicians Following the Supreme Court Adjudication Petition, Somali National Television, 3 January 2022 (Accessed 12 July 2022),

And see also:

THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION SYSTEM ACT AND ITS AMENDMENTS, EFFECTED BY ACT No. 14/2011, Somaliland law, 22 December 2011, Visited on: 01 July 2022,

9. Somaliland army fights off rebel forces,, 27 July 2019, Visited on: 11 July 2022,

10.Press conference by Watani Party leader Abd al-Rahman Abdullah Arrow, Horn Cable TV, May 26, 2022, (access date: July 14, 2022),

11.Press conference of the two leaders of the opposition parties on the failure of the talks, SAP TV, July 19, 2022, (access date: July 19, 2022),

See also: Press Conference of the Deputy Chairman of the Ruling Party Accuses the Opposition of Failing the Talks, MM TV, July 19, 2022 (accessed July 19, 2022),

See also: Press Conference mediated by the Speakers of the Senate and House of Representatives, MMTV, July 6, 2022 (Accessed date: July 15, 2022),

12. Press conference by MP Muhammad Abib criticizing the government, Somali Cable TV, July 16, 2022, (access date: July 17, 2022),

13. Otieno, Mathew, Somaliland: a democratic miracle on Africa’s Horn, 12 May 2022, Visited on: 18 July 2022,

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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