Dr Michael Walls, International Election Observer’s joint co-coordinator, says that “Somaliland has made enormous progress in achieving a difficult transition to a form of representative democracy.
- Somaliland citizens, both at home and abroad, are breathing a sigh of relief that the contentious council election concluded peacefully and democratically. This election marked the second council election in Somaliland and the fifth direct vote since 2002. The election involved 7 political organizations, 23 districts across 6 regions, 1,900 polling stations, and nearly 2,500 candidates. Thousands of Somaliland citizens came out peacefully and participated in gigantic rallies throughout the country. Although diverse groups were campaigning for their respective political organization, they nevertheless gave equal respect and hospitability to all competing political organizations. After cautious counting, the Committee for the Registration of Political Associations and the Approval of National Parties in Somaliland approved three National Political Parties; namely, Kulmiye, WADDANI, and Ucid. The remaining four political organizations (Umada, Rays, Xaqsoor, and Dalsan) have conceded defeat.
More than fifty international observers from neighboring as well as distance countries, who monitored the election on Wednesday, have formally declared that Somaliland citizens casted their votes peacefully and democratically. They have hailed the election free and fair and complimented Somaliland leaders for their determined efforts to conduct the election. Dr Michael Walls, International Election Observer’s joint co-coordinator, says that “Somaliland has made enormous progress in achieving a difficult transition to a form of representative democracy. [T]hese elections are an important next step in the institutionalisation of a system that brings together representative democratic institutions with traditional social organisational structures. Not only will they decide the personnel who will be responsible for municipal councils in the coming years, but they will determine the three political parties who will contest parliamentary and presidential elections for the next decade.”
A deluge of congratulatory messages have begun pouring in from across the globe. Even the ardent Somaliland foes affirmed publically and privately the democratic and peaceful manner in which Somalilanders conducted their election to the extent of recommending and urging other Somalis to follow-suit. This irrefutably demonstrates, once more, that Somaliland is indeed an icon of democracy in the Horn and “Africa’s best kept secret,” to borrow Iqbal Jhazbhay’s phrase. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my hearty congratulations to my fellow Somaliland citizens for their civility, wisdom and, above all, political maturity.
Regardless of the election outcome, we need to realize that we are all winners due to the fact that each and every Somaliland citizen’s participation in the election have strengthened and enhanced not only the augmentation of our democracy, but also elevated our image around the world. On the one hand, it has equipped our citizens the experience and the self-reliance needed to participate in mass election and, on the other hand, it has deepened our citizens’ awareness, cooperation, and tolerance. The uniqueness of this election deserves indebt research and analyzes due to its manifestation of an indigenous democracy imbedded in Somaliland culture, which I would surely attempt to undertake.
For now, let us unite and move on. The long days and weeks that had been devoted to listening speeches, rallies, campaigning, standing long queues, and striving to convince your friends, family and acquaintances to join your respective political organization bears fruit. We need to consider the implications of the new political parties and local councilors. Our new elected council members from all parties and all regions should strive to enhance and improve the conditions of their respective local constituents, e.g., safety, economy, health, education, infrastructure, etc. In order to attain this objective, the newly elected leaders need to make a sincere effort to reach across the aisle by making compromises with those of the opposing party. Although this is not an easy task to undertake, it is nevertheless crucial for the development of our beloved county.
Abdi Hussein Daud,
(Abdi Hussein Daud, a PhD in Education candidate at Northcentral University. He can be reached at: abdihdaud@yahoo)