Somaliland opposition look to have won round one in their electoral battle after the House of Representatives voted on Monday to have the Presidential and Political Associations elections combined.
In a debate which was put to vote at the House, 33 voted in favour of having the combined elections while 19 members who are supporters of President Muse Bihi, abstained from voting.
MP Adan Qasim Suleiman, who read the proposed changes to the electoral law number 14 before the Parliament, told the media after that the House of Representatives has complied with recent Supreme Court ruling on the country’s electoral law.
The House of Representatives will submit this new bill to the House-Senate of Somaliland to vote. After that, they will pass to Somaliland’s President Muse Biihi to sign.
The combining of the two election processes was an idea mooted by a group of businessmen who opined that having the two held separately would be costly for the country whose economy is unstable.
But the government poured cold water on the idea despite the businessmen having discussed it with President Muse Bihi. President Bihi has maintained that the political associations’ elections will take place before the presidential elections.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties who have been pushing for the presidential elections to be held in November this year ahead of the political associations’ elections welcomed the idea.
The vote in the house is therefore seen as a massive victory for the opposition parties.
Hersi Ali H. Hassan and Faysal Ali Warabe, the chairpersons of both Somaliland’s opposition parties of Waddani and Ucid, welcomed the newly approved bill. “I urge the Senate House to approve the bill immediately”, Faysal Ali Warabe tweeted.
The businessmen had seen the idea of combining the two elections as a solution to breaking the political deadlock that has seen the opposition parties hold street protests to pressure the government to hold presidential elections in November.
The opposition has accused President Bihi of unconstitutionally planning to extend his stay in office.
With the November date fast approaching, it remains to be seen if the president will give in and have the elections held.