Democratic process in Somaliland is going through difficult time, after the Guurti extended again the mandate of the current government for another six months. This did not please the opposition political parties who mobilised their supporters for an earlier election than the date set by the Guurti. The opposition parties based their logic whether the constitution of the country gives the Guurti the right of such extension. This is not the first time that the Guurti did such an action. And this frustrates many Somalilanders. Already the commission set a date for the election, 31st May, 2009 and this is their mandate. If they can not do this work within this time framework, the commission has to negotiate with the three political parties on this new development. This is the only right way.
Somaliland democratic process has been achieved by the combination of various forces in the society mainly the political parties. How these political parties cooperate at every stage of the process has been the cornerstone of this achievement. Without the cooperation of the three political parties, definitely there will not be any genuine election and the democratic process will be derailed. The so far successive democratic elections held during the last eight years were only possible through tough negotiations and give-and-take compromises. UCID party was the main contributor to the success of every stage of these negotiations.
In connection to this, we have reached where we are now. Though our democratic culture is still fragile, but nevertheless, it works and maintains the structure of the fragile state as well as the cohesion among the society. It also attracted some respect and appreciation from the international community.
Despite of these, it is unfortunate that the diverse components of society: the intellectuals, civil society, religious leaders, and young people seem to be indifferent to the politics of the country and they rarely participate in the political parties and the political debate. The role of all these forces is now missing in the political spectrum of the country. Thus, this has created a vacuum where the unelected body like the Guurti determines the whole political future of the nation. The Guurti, except few elder respected people, has been diluted recently by being more political as well as that every elder man who dies is inherited by a young person with less experience and the present Guurti only now bears the name. This needs an urgent critical debate.
What has happened on the 28th of April, 2009, when the Guurti extended another six months for the incumbent government, can not be regarded as a good example and can not be seen as a positive contribution to the democratic process of the nation. On the contrary, it complicates and exacerbates the political situation and disappoints many Somalilanders everywhere.
Now the country has entered a new phase of political crisis. This needs politicians with magnanimity and vision, particularly from the three political parties. The coming election is so more important for Somaliland than any other election before, mainly because if we pass this peacefully, it could hasten more support first from our people both at home and abroad and from the international community. It could also be a catalyst for transformation and change which the country so badly needs.
By: Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan