With diminished legitimacy, President Bihi resembles Mayor of Hargeisa

(Abdi Shakur Mohamed)

The peoples of Somaliland voted in the presidential election held on 13 Nov 2017. When the election results were officially announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on 21 November 2017, Muse Bihi Abdi, leader of the Kulmiye party, was declared winner of the presidential vote with 305,909 votes out of 704,198 votes cast – translating into 55.1 percent of the vote. Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Cirro leader of the Waddani Party secured 226,092 or 40.7 per cent of the votes, while Eng. Faysal Ali Hussein of UCID party has got 4.7% of votes.

The Somaliland constitution and the electoral law stipulate that the winner have to get 50 percent plus one votes to avoid a runoff election. Therefore, the former military officer Muse Bihi Abdi was declared as president-elect.

During the election process and counting votes by the NEC, Dr. Abdirahman Cirro disputed the declaration of Muse Bihi as president citing ‘massive irregularities’ and evidence of ‘poll anomalies.’ Even before Election Day opposition has called the entire electoral process into question in the face of ‘technical’ difficulties, where the system that had been established for the conduct of the elections failed. These technical failures in the Biometric voter registration to identify duplicate voter and proper functionality have led to massive irregularity on election process.

There was fraud of the voter registration system, intimidation and attacks on voters at polling stations with expulsion of Waddani party election observers from polling station. This was  a concern for free and fair election process and Waddani party promised to challenge the election results of the presidential vote.

Other sources claimed that there had been external involvement of election such role of Dubai port world (DPW) company on financing Kulmiye party to win the election so as to secure the Berbera port agreement which the opposition Waddani party stood against. Also the position of Djibouti was clear as it opened border and massed unregistered voters for voting with fake Voter ID cards.

The Waddani promised to challenge what was called election rigging and to be presented to the Supreme Court of Somaliland by a team of lawyers. Unfortunately, As Waddani party argued before the court, the government removed a neutral chief of Supreme Court of Somaliland and replaced it with a young academic man with no experience of being a judge.

His selection was very tactical for Kulmiye party and to prevent any claim of electoral fraud as already Kulmiye party secured army chief of staff, chairman of house of elder together with most influential ministerial position that are either same clan with Muse Bihi or clan alliance of Habarjeclo (Jeegan clans Alliance). All these tactics denies argument of the opposition parties to call the equipment deployed by the NEC for the election-ranging from the poll books, computer servers, and electronic transmission that all failed.

Fronts Struggling for Democratic Participation

Kulmiye party was governing Somaliland over 8 years of corruption, poor governance and lack of transparency in government institutions. During the regime of Silanyo, the country disintegrated with segment of clans. The rivalry clan clash was obvious while drought effect the region for last 5 years consequently, the people were fed up with Kulmiye party and was losing supporters to opposition parties. Kulmiye witnessed the political waves of change for coming election that people prefer to have democratic participation struggle and to remove this weak and corrupt party.

The weakness of the Kulmiye party during Silanyo government brought disintegration of Somaliland’s unity and democracy. The Silanyo government planned five major tactics to undermine any the struggle for democratic participation in Somaliland.

The five tactics had been:

(1) the protracted terms of power and violated constitutional term limits

(2) the information warfare and attempts to control the flow of information about the political process through government media such as creating rivalry websites, TV channels and journal based clan system,

(3) poor installation of  the electoral computer servers and multi-duplicated of voter books of NEC

(4) the removal of the chief of the supreme court in order to avoid any legal challenge

(5) the divide and rule policy for political process as ‘tribal’

Post-election Tension

Political tension mounted in Somaliland post-election, after the Waddani party accused and showed international community the massively rigging of the electoral process. Also supporter of Waddani party questioned the transparency of the election and accused the government of stealing votes and committing fraud.

After election, on November 13 2017, the Somaliland clan based system disintegrated with potential civil war and emergence of Islamic insurgence as there are marginalized clans for last 8 years of the Silanyo government. The clan clashes are frequently happening in rural areas and causes are numerous; absence of basic needs such as water, food, and political motivated clan competition. This clan rivalry is what keeps the balance of clans from future domination of the government of Somaliland.

Political miscalculation of Muse Bihi Abdi was to revenge any clans who supported the opposition party and deny future political opportunities in his government. He blindly nominated most ministerial position for his clan of Habar Awal and clan ally of Jeegan (Habarjeclo clan) by repeating mistakes of Silanyo to divide the clans which had negative consequence  to Somaliland unity and coexistence as breakaway republic.

Today, government of Muse Bihi has no legitimate support and most regions of Somaliland consider the capital Hargeisa to be marginalized and excluded in Somaliland politics. It is arguable that nominations of unpopular ministers and his desire to get any political officer who is not involved clan politics that resulted as a political illusion for this president. Nearly 6 months after he is declared as president-elect, he has not come up with fair distribution of political positions and limited his government to the capital – just like a ‘Mayor of Hargeisa’.


* Abdi Shakur Mohamed is a PhD candidate in International Politics.

Guest Author

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