Policy brief: Somaliland presidential elections: political context, electoral standards and anticipated challenges

International Journal of Development Research

Article ID: 
6 pages
Review Article

Policy brief: Somaliland presidential elections: political context, electoral standards and anticipated challenges

Mohamed A. Mohamoud – Barawani


The Republic of Somaliland enjoys a multiparty political system in which competitive elections is center to its pattern. Successive elections were conducted in Somaliland, including the municipal elections in 2002, the first competitive democratic the presidential elections held in 2003, and the parliamentary elections in 2005, the second presidential elections 2010. The third presidential election is scheduled in November 2017. Nonetheless, delays to timely elections overshadowed the blatant democratic reputation of Somaliland, which occasioned international partners to reconsider its sums of its assistance to Somaliland. There is also a domestic frustration over the elections postponements, and failure to honor timely elections. The upcoming presidential election has been delayed two consecutive times, while the legislative houses elections are overstaying the constitutional limits. Somaliland has succeeded to recover its post-conflict political polarization through indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms, and constitutional democracy. It is notable to mention that multilayered political and social conflicts resolved in between 1991-1997 without external assistances. And, this has contributed to the establishment of political system which led to the foundation of power sharing and broader political and clans’ reconciliations. Somaliland’s state- building process is dubbed as “hybrid political order” in sense that Somaliland combines the House of Guurti which is more inclusive political organ and unelected House with the democratically elected bodies—President, Local Councilors, and House of Representatives. Nevertheless, the House of Guurti was blamed of legitimizing postponements of election, as were unconstitutional in number of occasions, and also the act of avoidance of laying the foundation of its electoral system, the Guurti election law. It should be noted that the House of Guurti has made tremendous efforts in resolving political and clans’ conflicts during the decade of fragility in 1991-1997. The House of Guurti was only the political and traditional organ with capacity and leadership to handle political and clans’ reconciliations, making the House of Guurti was a vital instrument to restore peace and political stability. Thus, there is a heated debate on how the electoral system of House of Guurti will be, and it is beyond reasonable doubt that unelected House of Guurti ascertains key democratic challenges in the post- constitutional democratic process. This policy brief is examining to what extent the upcoming presidential elections is with conformity of international electoral standards. In Somaliland, the electoral process has experienced constant challenges that hugely affected the electoral process. But in this year there are some improvements considering the secured voters list, impartial national electoral commission, development electoral laws and code of conducts and some degree of political parties maturity adds to the democratic pride that is enjoyed in this part of the world. Finally, the domestic and international observers, civil society organizations and independent media are playing constructive role how the presidential elections to be held in manner which is free, fair, transparent and peaceful.

Download PDF: