Somaliland Upper House Extend Lower House Term To January 2020


The Somaliland Upper House – Guurti – extended the term of the House of Representatives – the Lower House of the bicameral parliament – for a little over eight months, starting from April 28 this year.

Based on a proposal submitted to an extra-ordinary session of the Guurti  by a 25-member Committee previously tasked to come up with a workable proposal, the House Speaker put the term to vote. Sixty-nine MPs of the seventy present said ‘aye’. The House Speaker, Suleiman Mohamoud Adam, did not vote per House by-laws since there was no tie to warrant his.

Parliamentary elections were previously slated to happen during March 2019 – a month before the House tern ended. NEC – the National Electoral Commission – declared there was not enough time to hold it, and that neither the budget was ready nor outstanding critical issues necessary for a smooth polling were resolved.

Considering the prevailing circumstances, the three national parties sat together in December 2018 deciding that end of 2019 could be a comfortable date for elections. Accordingly., the President, Musa Bihi Abdi, wrote to the Guurti asking them to honor the parties’ suggestion.

Since then, it seems, Waddani party reneged on the agreement insisting that that unless the present roster of the electoral commissioners was changed, it would not take part in the elections. This led to the two other parties – UCID and Kulmiye declaring that they would go to the polls in November this year with or without the participation of Waddani – thus posing another dilemma.

Today’s extension decides that elections must be held on 12 December 2019 – a month before the end of the extended term of the parliament on 12 January 2019.

According to the Honorable First Deputy Speaker of the House, Saeed Jama Ali, the limited extension given to the Lower House fits within the framed time which the three parties set earlier. The Deputy said the proposed extension also honors the desired limitation international partners wished put on runaway extensions which augured nothing but il to the democratic process so successfully implemented in Somaliland one result of which was the smooth takeover of three presidents taking the mantle from one to the other.

Today’s extension to the Parliament will be its fifth of the kind to the same House.

The extension, it is worth noting, will pose more problems than it solves. For one, the term of office of the electoral commission ends in October 2019 – less than two months of time earmarked for elections. Secondly, there is no national consensus yet to determine number of parliamentarians coming from each region. Neither has it been decided how the quota allotted to women and minorities be treated. Would the quota be above the number of MPs given to each region or would it be included.

One thing is certain, though. The road to the polls is fraught with so many hurdles.


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