The Republic of Somaliland has successfully completed its sixth election and third presidential election. In this last election, there were many firsts including: the first time an incumbent president chose not to seek a second term, the first presidential debate and most impressively the first time an iris-recognition technology is used for election in the world.
The election happened peacefully on the 13th of November, after 21 days of a thrilling campaign. And in a week’s time, on the 20th, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) confirmed the ruling party’s candidates Mr. Muuse Biixi Cabdi and Mr. Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail (Zeylici) as the winners.
The whole country once again held its breath waiting on if the opposition candidates would accept the defeat and concede as the country’s electoral history shows. Sure enough, and in stark contrast to the neighboring Kenya, the two opposition leaders accepted the result.
As the constitution states the Supreme Court has to endorse the preliminary results announced by the Electoral Commission to make them official and on the 28th they made their endorsement which leaves only the swearing of the President and Vice President-elect to finish the electoral process.
As the electoral process is nearly over people’s attention is shifting from what has been described as ‘the election fever’ to the expectations of the new government.
The first big task that faces the President-elect is forming his new cabinet and that is both sensitive and critical as it comes with many dilemmas; on one side are the citizens tired by the corrupt politicians who held high positions in Siilaanyo’s administration and on the other are the very same politicians who campaigned very hard for the President-elect and helped him secure the presidency. Choosing to reappoint some of these politicians will cost him the trust of the fed-up citizens as it will portray his new government as no more than a continuation of the old regime and if he chooses to leave them out he will alienate some of the most powerful politicians and will make many enemies within his own party.
As the locals raise their concerns of the new cabinet and how they would like to witness the appointment of honest men and women, old politicians struggle and hustle to secure their spot in the new government, and Somaliland diaspora are flying back to the country in the hundreds as they themselves join the race of securing a position in the new cabinet, their bargaining chip being their generosity during the campaign, the president-elect faces his first big challenge which a success or a blunder will be the first mark of his leadership.
There are also many more and much larger challenges ahead of the new government that is to be formed in a few weeks’ time. Creating jobs for the youth, which make over 70% of the population demographics, of whom an estimated 75% is unemployed was also on top of the priorities of Kulmiye’s political manifesto. Creating an open economic system that encourages production to reduce poverty; modernizing and improving the Healthcare, Education, and Water Supply systems; setting an effective avoidance strategy of natural disasters like recurring droughts; and the rule of law, justice, and equality among all the citizens of Somaliland, were all an areas that the Kulmiye party said that it will focus on.
But two factors above all seem to be the most pressing to Somalilanders: (a) The restoration of good governance, which has suffered immensely in the past 7 years, by employing competent bureaucrats and technocrats in the ministries and other governmental institutions rather than unqualified based on nepotism and clannism. Moreover, people can’t wait to see the institutionalized corruption uprooted and ended once and for all, and indeed it was reassuring when the president-elect told his party’s strongmen “the fight against corruption will start from the top and that they will not be excluded.”
Somaliland saw a massive improvement in the past 26 years but that shall never be taken for granted. Sustaining its success story demands more than elections, it will take a leader that guides the nation’s forward march. Over 55% of this election’s voters believe that Muuse Biixi with his tested strong decision-making and daring character can help the nation towards a better future and even those who voted against him are hoping for that to be true. As the President-elect himself remarked in the article he penned several days ago ‘There is no illusion about the challenges facing Somaliland’ and has five years of leadership to deal with those challenges mark his legacy on the continuing story of the nation.
By Khadar Mariano @APuntite