Differences over plans to reshuffle Somaliland’s licensed political parties and the sequencing of elections have cast doubts over the electoral calendar since December 2021. In light of the legal and technical timelines, it is now an “open secret” that Muse Bihi’s elected term would expire before presidential elections can be held. Based on past experience, it is inevitable that the House of Elders (Guurti) will extend the President’s term in office. The question is: On what terms might this happen, to what end, and for how long? Unless addressed through consensus, Somaliland not only faces prolonged political uncertainty, but also a constitutional crisis that could inflict lasting damage to its widely respected electoral democracy.
Disagreement over plans to reshuffle Somaliland’s licensed political parties and the sequencing of elections has put the electoral calendar into question. Once again, squabbling and tactical manoeuvring by the country’s political elites threaten to undermine Somaliland’s hard-earned reputation as a beacon of democratic hope in the bleak political context of the Horn of Africa. Without serious attempts at consensus-building, these developments could place Somaliland on a trajectory leading to severe political crisis.
During thirty years in the cold of non-recognition as a state by the international community and the African Union, Somaliland has engineered a unique hybrid democracy that's possibly the most impressive in the Horn and Eastern Africa. Built on a foundation of traditional institutions and painful memories of war between 1980 and 1991, quietly and without external interference the small country has successfully built a resilient democracy with a capacity for self-correction; and, a peaceful society that demonstrates what's possible when a people get the software right and trust informs relations between a people and those who govern them.