Somaliland: Opposition Turns Table on Government by Accepting Mediation Terms

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In an unprecedented, surprise move Somaliland opposition parties wholly accepted a several-point proposal a voluntary mediation committee released Monday to break a political deadlock between the ruling party, Kulmiye, siding with the government standpoint and the two opposition parties of UCID and Waddani.

The central issue of their discord rested on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) commissioners in one form or another since the presidential election of November 2017.

The Committee, drawn, mainly, from business people, poets and playwrights, prominent elders in society with a smatter of intellectuals and traditional leaders, proposed that the newly sworn-in commission be dissolved and the old one re-installed.

Since this was also a contentious issue with the opposition who, on occasion contested the number of commissioners demanding that they be hiked up from 7 to 9, and, on others, especially on the case of Waddani, questioned its trustworthiness to hold another election, nobody expected that the opposition parties would so readily accept that particular point.

The opposition unconditionally – and without the least reservation –  welcomed the committee proposals ‘in deference to the national integrity, peace, stability and unity’.

Waddani Chairman, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, conveyed the opposition standpoint to the public.

“One does not send out a mediation committee to settle a point or points of contention and, when they do, reject the resolution,” he said., adding, “let he who made a habit of rejecting solutions turn to a rejecter of mediation committees, too” – sending a barb the presidency way.

The government, however, welcomed the points cautiously but conditionally.

Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, the Interior Minister and the First Deputy Chairman of the ruling party speaking on behalf of the government, stated that his government categorically accepted the suggested terms for reconciliation.

“We will refer the matter of disbandment of the new commission and the return of the old one to the competent, judicial bodies to advise on a proper course of action,” he said.

This response is, observers say, exactly the one opposition anticipated and banked on of a government that is notoriously becoming its worst enemy.

Critics have often pointed out that the government and its party have no place for outside opposition as they are their own opposition more often than not due to its intransigence and insensitivity to public needs and national calls for a visible, development-oriented, forward-looking and more compassionate leadership.

On the other hand, the opposition acceptance of the condition that the old commissioners be reinstated took the public by complete surprise. The majority welcomed the standpoint taken by opposition leaders recalling, however, the time wasted by an often militant, belligerent opposition standpoint on the same issue which largely led to the present impassè.

This time around, the tables are completely turned on the government.

It is expected that the government will not be able to explain to the international partners’ delegation due to arrive tomorrow, Wednesday, why it defers its prerogatives to organs whose decisions it influences when a presidential decree suffices to solve outstanding issues. President Bihi told international partners before that he will not replace controversial members he named but that the HoR has that honour to either accept his nominations or reject them.

There is a precedent to the solution on NEC which the mediation committee proposes. It happened during President Dahir Rayale Kahin’s time. It can start with the President or the Guurti o both asking thier nominated members to resign. UCID, no doubt, will not hesitate. The Waddani member was not there in the first place – neither passed by parliament nor sworn in.

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