Int’l partners urge Somaliland to hold elections before 2020

The international community on Wednesday called on leaders in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland to hold parliamentary elections.

The international partners in a joint statement expressed concern over the decision to extend the terms for both Lower and Upper House to 2022 and 2023 respectively.  The partners said both Houses, established to represent the women and men of Somaliland, have been sitting for a period much too long by any democratic standards.  

 “We are concerned that events have significantly undermined these commitments to the detriment of Somaliland’s democratic credentials and international standing,” said the partners which included the EU, UN, the US and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) among others.

The partners said there is the need for an electoral commission that inspires broad trust from all political actors as well as from the citizens of Somaliland. The partners said local councils have been operating without a democratic mandate since April.

“We therefore call on the government and all political actors to reaffirm, through both words and deeds, the long-standing culture of mutual agreement, consensus and compromise, to find a way through this current impasse in order for both parliamentary and local elections to take place without any further delay, well before the end of the calendar year 2020,” said the partners.

The latest move comes after the Upper House (Guurti) on Sunday extended the life of parliament by three more years and two years to the Lower Houses, scuttling any plans for elections. The first and only election of Somaliland’s Lower House was in 2005. Since then, at least five delays have pushed back the process.

This means those elected in 2005 for five-year terms have now served 14 years, without a check on their performance. The international partners called on Somali leaders to forge political consensus which they said is critical ahead of the one-person-one-vote elections in 2020.

The partners including the Africa Union, EU, UN and the United States also welcomed the recent meeting between President Mohamed Farmajo and two former presidents, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif, which discussed Somalia’s priorities and the importance of preserving open political space. -Xinhua

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