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Somaliland denies any expression of interest in Somalia’s elections

The candidacy of some Somaliland citizens for the elections of the High Chamber of Somalia, re-proposes the delicate balance of relations between Mogadishu and Hargeisa in the complex management of Somaliland's role.

It is quite chaotic and controversial the issue of the presumed will of Somaliland to participate in Somalia’s political elections for the Upper House, with a list of its own candidates,

The Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid and the President of the Senate Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, have published on September 21 a list of 24 candidates who intend to participate in the elections representing Somaliland, submitting the list to Prime Minister Mohammad Hussein Roble, who has formally approved it.

However, the list of 24 candidates, as has often been the case since 2016, is said to be an expression of the individual will of the candidates and not of the self-proclaimed government of Somaliland, which insists on its autonomy and formally denies any interest in Somalia’s political and electoral process.

On September 22, the Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming that from Hargeisa there is no intention of expressing its own representatives within the Somali institutions. At the same time he accused Somali politicians of spreading misleading news about an alleged openness of Somaliland towards the Somali federal institutions.

The 24 candidates on the list from Somaliland approved by Roble, therefore, are part of a controversial political mechanism within the country that, while formally reaffirming its independence and regularly organizing its own elections, has since 2016 authorized individuals promoting the return to a Somali national unity to participate in the Somali federal elections.

A political hybrid, therefore, which sees Somaliland at the same time formally pleading the cause of independence, although indirectly participating through the individual initiative of some of its political figures in the institutional dynamics of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The participation of Somaliland candidates to the Somali political elections, however, is often used in Somalia as an expression of a local will to re-enter the federation of Somali states, provoking the firm and harsh reaction of Somaliland authorities, which accuse Mogadishu of claiming non-existent sovereignty prerogatives.

A unique context, to say the least, characterized by a de facto independence of the country since 1991, expressed by an almost absolute majority by popular vote in 1993, although not recognized by any country or international organization.

Within this complex system of balances, the absolute majority of Somaliland’s population sustains the independence of the state from Somalia, participating into an intense and constant political debate, characterized by regular and frequent elections. And it is precisely in the context of these dynamics, therefore, that on September 24 the president of the opposition Waddani party, Abdirhaman Mohamed Abdullahi “Irro”, went to Abu Dhabi to meet the former president of Somaliland Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Siilaanyo”, in what was publicly presented as a friendly exchange of views on the current political situation in the country. The meeting took place in the context of the feverish political climate in the country, where elections for the President and the Upper House – the Guurti, or House of Elders will be held next year. The meeting was also attended by the influential tribal leader Osman Haji Mohamoud, known as Buurmadow.

At the same time, however, a minority component of the population of Somaliland is preparing to compete for the Somali federal institutions. They represent those who consider the link with Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia as essential. A paradox that Hargeisa authorities both admit and condemn, thus defining the extent of the limbo in which Somaliland has been living for over thirty years.

Awate Birhane
Awate Birhane
Awate Birhane è un Senior Analyst per l’Africa dell’Institute for Global Studies, dove si occupa prevalentemente di Africa Orientale, dove risiede. Ha conseguito un PhD in Development Economics, lavorando per lungo tempo per una organizzazione internazionale.


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