Somaliland: 90 Days to Presidential Elections, Uncertainty Looms
Hargeisa (The Horn)- The magic date of 28th March 2017 slated for Somalilanders to elect their president for the next five years is just 14 Fridays away.
And Despite the anticipation of having another citizen man the presidency since the current occupier is not seeking reelection plus the hyped political status prevalent the gaps in preparation vis ‘a’ vis timeframe makes the polls discernibly untenable.
So what are the pros and cons of the elections in relation to the major players and factors namely National election commission, Prevalent Drought/famine, international donor community cum democratization partners, the three national political parties, president Silanyo and term extension.
According to the national election commission-NEC, technically the polls are on course for the slated dated that is 28th March 2016.
For NEC having successfully completed nationwide voter registration the only remaining activity is distribution of voter cards now at the printers of which the body assured timely delivery.
But according to local political analysts the Presidential elections are impossible to hold on the slated day due to several encumbrances that engulf NEC inspite of successful voter registration. among them
ü Voter card distribution of which nationwide distribution is next to impossible given the time frame
ü Funds in lieu of the fact that there is a deficit of $4m which is 75% of the total and
ü Prevalent severe drought
Financially reports indicate that four million dollars of the election budget is unavailable. Donors usually foot 75% of Somaliland election expenditure whereas the government funds the remainder. The Minister in the Office of the President Mr. Mohamud Hashi Abdi recently acknowledged that the government find itself in a tight spot; nevertheless he claims the polls will go on as slated. Meanwhile endemic famine ravaging the eastern parts of the country may hamper the electoral process as a result of displacement of people from their homes in the east are scattered around the western regions; and for this reason many registered voters will not be able to secure voter cards .
To make matters worse Somaliland voters cannot vote in other places because of a primitive electoral regulation that stipulates a voter is only allowed to vote at center or vicinity area of registration, this will put political parties in a very precarious position as they try to out do each other in their quest to woo voters.
The international community cum election donors enthusiasm will erode if Somaliland puts off the polls, once again; the IC having stated clearly that it will lead Somaliland to lose many benevolent friends while denting her good democratization process credentials.
In the meantime 75% amounting to $4m usually availed by the IC is in deficit, the donors having shown no inclination to chip-in dispute repeated appeals by the administration mostly as a result of their anger with separation of presidential and parliamentary elections.
A foreign diplomats who spoke to the HORN NEWSPAPER on condition of anonymity confirmed that the drought menace may hinder the election but should not be used as a scapegoat for postponing the polls.
The three national political parties of ruling Kulmiye and opposition UCID and Wadani are unanimous in their stance, that the ballot must be cast as scheduled however this is wishful thinking on their part, though in good will, owing to the many hurdles yet to be overcome; namely issue of drought displaced, funds and yet to be issued voter cards.
Weirdly Kulmiye and UCID the two parties in a love hate relationship driven by fear of the Wadani support muscle and d spite their determination to have the ballot on 28th March are in opposite poles as such a possibility in relation to prevalent drought.
An equilibrium is expected among the two once Consultations with NEC are concluded and the electoral body as constitutionally mandated announces launch of campaign and polls date
Lest we forget parliament is in a second unelected stint in office while the incumbent president Silanyo has overstayed his tenure by two years which means he has served a seven years term instead of the constitutional allowed five.
While all are anxious and publicly proclaiming commitment to holding Somaliland presidential elections on time, it appears as if all are in deliberate blindfolds as pertains the myriad of constraints clearly discernible while the three national national parties are utilizing the election dates and drought to accrue political mileage
In the meantime and not withstanding all the difficulties, natural or manmade that might be used as justification for further postponement the all and ever resilient Somalilanders are determined, comes home or rain, to cast votes for their chosen leader and party come 28th March 2017 .