Somaliland democracy on trial as Senate extends it’s term to 2027

News Politics

Somaliland Democratic ideals have been put into question after the Senate decided to extend its term by five years.

The Senate members met on Saturday morning and selfishly made the decision that has been termed unconstitutional.

A five year extension of their term means most of the members will serve for 30 years. The last time the Senate held elections was in 1997.

The Guurti’s mandate has been extended four times previously- pushed from 2003 to 2006, then to 2009, 2011, and 2013) – a fifth extension until 2018 and now again to 2027.

Parliament and Municipality elections we held last year.

The Guurti’s role is to arbitrate and seek peaceful consensus where issues divide the political class and threaten peace, however they remain the most divisive institution in Somaliland.

Many Somalilanders recognise the Guurti’s decision as heavily influenced by Kulmiye’s internal succession crisis.

Their divisive decision adds to existing criticism, that it is partisan toward the incumbent president.

Guurti has, just like in the past also extended the term of President Muse Bihi by another two years.

This is the latest in a number of developments that show Somaliland’s hybrid governance system is under strain – the move away from previously highly consensual politics (an inevitable casualty of modern state building) also hints at a return to the traditions of authoritarianism in the region.

The situation created by Guurti is the worst of both worlds, an unchecked executive further bolstered by a co-opted institution. This may prompt wider civil unrest that risks taking on clannist dimensions – especially between the politically dominant Isaaq sub-clans – even a possible return to their fratricidal conflict of the 1990s. Guurti-led government-term extensions and poll-postponements are the rule rather than exception in Somaliland. In 2008, then President Dahir Riyale Kahin was granted a one-year extension; elections eventually took place in 2010.

The second local council and municipal elections were finally held in 2012 after a five-year postponement.

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