The two Speakers of the two houses of the bicameral parliament of Somaliland, the Rt Hon Suleiman Mohamoud Adan of the Upper House (Guurti), and the RT Hon Abdirizak Khalif Ahmed of the House of Representatives, respectively, again showed a difference of opinion on how a bill that the HoR passed to the Guurti on Tuesday was to be processed.
The Guurti Speaker, Hon Suleiman, returned the bill passed to his House to the Representatives without reading to the Guurti assembly for deliberation and debate.
In a letter he signed, Monday, he stated that the Guurti had no place for fresh wrangles borne out of a bill he deemed contentious.
Following up on that letter today, the Speaker reiterated that he returned the bill unopened – as was the procedure – to the HoR fearing that it will be the cause of a schism among House members as it did with the Representatives’.
Responding to the Guurti letter, the HoR Speaker, the Right Honourable Abdrizak Khalif Ahmed, first returned the bill back to the Guurti which refused to accept it.
Following up on this step, the Speaker formally wrote to his counterpart, Tuesday, citing relevant articles asking him to abide by the constitutional procedure mandated to the Guurti House which grants the Upper House to deliberate on bills passed to it by the Lower House as members see fit. MPs can amend it, add to it, approve the text of the bill or strike out sections they deem inappropriate to the purpose.
“I ask the Honourable Speaker to go by the established, constitutional procedure and process the bill passed to him amending or supplementing it as they see fit,” the HoR Speaker stated.
The HoR bill proposed that the Presidential and political parties’ elections be combined. A similar proposal was suggested by a voluntary committee of leading businessmen last month.
Out of the media limelight, both Speakers voiced hope that the tiff between the two houses was a temporary one and would be resolved amicably in due time soon.
The difference between the two houses of the Somaliland parliament, however, compounds other differences that polarized views of the three existing national parties and their respective supporters relating to the timing and sequencing of presidential and political associations.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on Saturday that it needed nine more months starting from October 1st to hold the Presidential election. Since there was no consensus reached or amendment made to Law No. 14 of the Political associations and registration act regarding how the next three national parties were to be decided, NEC said nothing about this.
NEC cited technical and financial impediments.
The announcement drew a similar reaction from the two opposition parties first. Waddani, the larger of the two, however, rephrased its initial acceptance adding that the length of any extension to be made to the present term of the government must be based on inter-party dialogue.
Extensions to mandated legislative and executive terms fall within the mandate of the Guurti – the Upper House.
As was made crystal clear by that House’s Speaker, the Honourable Suleiman Mohamoud, today, how long an extension that the Guurti will make for the government was a Guurti concern and right alone. It could be based on the NEC proposal or longer but never shorter as has been traditionally the case with extensions in Somaliland.