Hargeisa, Somaliland, Somalia –
Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi Abdi, issued a decree yesterday confirming that the general elections will take place on December 28, 2023, while the presidential elections will follow on November 13, 2024. His decree approves the dates set up earlier by the Somaliland Electoral Commission.
The decision to hold party elections first has caused political instability and triggered an armed insurgency in Somaliland, contributing to the emergence of the Garhajis militias. In recent weeks, at least two armed groups related to the Garhajis sub-clan have taken up arms and clashed with the Somaliland army in Sanaag and Sahil regions.
Most recently, a twin group to the earlier announced Garhajis militia from Ga’an Libaah mountain was spotted on the outskirts of Erigavo, the capital and largest city of Sanaag. The group, allegedly belonging to the Eastern Garhajis, has threatened the Somaliland government with war. In a video seen by the Somali Digest, one of the armed militiamen claims they took up arms to save Somaliland from a “dictatorship of Muse Bihi Abdi,” Somaliland’s President who just confirmed the extension of his term.
One term: 7 years
The Somaliland Electoral Commission (SEC) has announced the election schedule in mid-July, following a controversial decision by Somaliland’s House of Elders. The legislative body approved Muse Bihi’s presidential term by two years, effectively extending his total tenure to 7 years. The move has drawn condemnation from opposition leaders, who accuse Mr Bihi of undermining the democratic process and refusing to adhere to the scheduled election timeline.
Indeed, with a 7-year term, the self-declared state of Somaliland finds itself aligned with other dictatorships known for extending their rulers’ reign, such as Burundi or Equatorial Guinea. These countries had to adopt constitutional reforms to prolong the stay of their leaders.
The Somaliland Electoral Commission comprises seven members. The President of Somaliland nominates three, House of Elders two, and opposition parties two. House of Representatives then confirms the nominations. The distribution of nominations clearly suggests who has the most power in a body that should be fully independent.