In a decree marked MS/GDD/28/2021, Sunday, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, set the date for the first opening session of the newly-elected House of Representatives for Tuesday, August 3.
Article 44 (1) of the Somaliland Constitution grants the President the right to call the first sitting of a newly elected parliament to order within 30- days of the day the Supreme (Constitutional) Court validates the final results and names of newly-elected MPs.
“The new House shall hold its inaugural meeting within 30 (thirty) days from the date when the electoral results are declared, and shall be convened by the President of the Republic,” said article stipulates.
The mandated 30 days were due to end on Thursday, 5 August.
Much concern has been voiced over when and how this first session would be convened since the National Electoral Commission announced the preliminary results, submitting them to the Court early in June following the double May 31 election.
Stiff competition for the leadership of the House surfaced even before the Court finally authenticated the NEC results on 7 July.
An opposition that, together, led the majority by winning 52 seats of the 82-seat parliament did not expect the government would challenge it. Shortly after the court reached its conclusion, UCID and Waddani parties announced that they were nominating Abdirizak Khalif, the former Deputy Chairman of Waddani party, to lead the House. The First and Second Deputies came from UCID.
On its part, the government fielded the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Professor Yassin Mohamoud Hiir ‘Faratoon’ of Kulmiye – the ruling party – as its choice as House Speaker with, again, the two deputies coming from UCID.
A push and pull, behind-the-curtains activity started with the government fighting tooth and nail to attract enough numbers from the opposition camp to give it the lead come election day at the opening sitting.
The announcement of the government on a date that has two days to spare until the end of the specified period engenders hot speculation in favour of a government win on Tuesday.
The opposition insists nothing of the kind will happen.
But a belated abrogation of muscle-twisting and coercion of the government on recalcitrant MPS that the leaders of the two opposition parties alleged and the piqued language they occasionally threw in at a press conference they held on Thursday at the Ambassador Hotel intimated a degree of trepidation and uncertainty on the part of the opposition to observers.
On the latest count, the two camps were almost neck-to-neck with two or three MPs still remaining undecided.
Come Tuesday, the undecided will still sway the day one way or the other – which way remains to be seen.