In what observers see as a blow to President Muse Bihi’s plans to extend his stay in office, Somaliland’s Constitutional Court has rejected the interpretation requested by the Electoral Commission, relating to the dispute electoral road map.
According to the statement issued by the court, it denied the request made by the Electoral Commission on April 7, 2023, stating that it did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, as it pertains to electoral disputes.
“The Constitutional Court rejected the application dated 4,7,2023 submitted by the National Elections Commission to the Supreme Court of JSL, which is the Constitutional Court, which was meant to interpret the law,” the court statement said.
The court highlighted that the scheduling of elections was not within its jurisdiction but rather is the responsibility of the Electoral Commission, hence it declined to interfere.
“The National Electoral Commission is instructed the electoral commission to determine the election timelines as it is within their jurisdiction, according to Article 16 of the General Elections Act,” the court said.
The Electoral Commission, which has been accused of bias and favoritism in handling the disputes arising from the presidential and the political associations elections, had requested the court to provide an interpretation, which the court rejected in order to maintain its impartiality.
The leaders of the opposition parties in Somaliland, Waddani, and UCID, criticized the decision by the Electoral Commission to refer the electoral dispute to the Supreme Court, a move the opposition calls an interference to enclave’s electoral process, while also stating that Somaliland can only be saved by holding the long-delayed presidential elections.
Waddani Party presidential candidate, Abdirahman Irro, addressed the issue of elections in a statement posted on his Facebook page, highlighting the need for fair and inclusive elections that reflect the will of the people. He emphasized the importance of the National Electoral Commission, as an independent institution mandated to oversee the electoral process by the country’s laws and constitution.
He noted that a previous decision by the Supreme Court, which postponed the elections indefinitely, was a result of the long-standing dispute over electoral procedures that remains unresolved. Irro called for the establishment of a credible mechanism to resolve this impasse.
Similarly, UCID Chairman Faisal Warabe, who spoke with local media stated that the referral to the Supreme Court for a decision undermines the electoral process in the country. Faisal expressed concern that if the judiciary fails to recuse themselves from the process, it could further exacerbate the situation.