Priorities Prior to 2019 Somaliland Elections (Part IV): Regional Allocation of Parliamentary Seats

By: Omer A Yussuf in Oakland, California

Priorities Prior to 2019 Somaliland Elections: Somaliland president – HE Muse Bihi Abdi – recently convened a joint session for both Houses: the Elder and the Representatives, in which he gave an assurance that the Municipality and Parliamentary elections would be held on time as planned in March 2019 but urged that members of both houses complete the laws governing election of representatives and councilpersons.

Somaliland voters lining to cast their votes in 2017

Although Law No. 20-2/2005 deals with the election of House of Representatives and has been last used in 2005 when current members of the parliament were elected, some articles in it needs to be re-evaluated such as Article 12 which states the regional quotas for parliamentary seats. It specifically says that seat allocation is only applicable to 2015 parliamentary election.  Seat allocation is a contentious issue that deserves to be debated in advance to get it out of the way so it wouldn’t become an impediment to holding elections.

The democratic system of governance embraced by Somaliland is based on the principle of “One-Man One-Vote”. Therefore, the Voter Registration Process needs to be opened again for two more additional months to get every willing citizen registered and to obtain the final representative count of voters.

The last voter registration took place almost all over Somaliland except four localities that happened to be in the eastern part of the country: Hudin and Taleh in Sool Region, Badhan in Sanaag Region, and Buhodle in Tog-dheer Region, and for this reason it would be difficult to have complete accurate census for these districts.

Therefore, there are four viable choices or election models that are before us today and one must be chosen before it comes too late:

 

Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC)

Somaliland Census Bureau

Census Bureau performs the job of counting the population of the country at set intervals, and makes possible to know the population of each region in the country so that representation at local and national levels would be based on this census. It is the best model for any election and widely used around the world. Since there is no such agency in Somaliland now, creating one would definitely delay the upcoming municipality and parliamentary elections slated to occur in March 2019 and this choice would not be an appropriate option when addressing this contentious issue of regional seat allocation because delaying another elections for the second time can cause a huge setback to our infant democracy as well as our ambition for statehood.

Somaliland House of Elders debating Parliamentary Seats Allocation in 2016

Voter Registration Count Model

If census count is not feasible to be undertaken in the country within the time left from the election, the Voter Registration Count can be next best option for the elections. If the final voter registration count comes to 900,000 voters and ten parliamentary seats are reserved and set aside for the four districts that could not register their residents for security reasons, the remaining 72 seats can be used as a divisor to 900,000 to find out the votes worth of a single parliamentary seat (12,500 votes) that determines the number of seats each region would be awarded. For instance, if Region XYZ has 125,000 registered voters, that region would have 10 representatives in the House of Parliament (125,000/12,500)

Number of registered voters of each region in Somaliland

Somaliland Polling Stations and number of registered voters associated with each station as published by Somaliland National Electoral Commission in the 2017 Presidential Election.

Number of registered voters of each region is Somaliland

Amanded Voter Registration Count Model

In few regions, a significant segment of local population doesn’t embrace the notion of Somaliland Statehood for one reason or other and still have reservations over how the parliamentary seats are allocated. They do not engage in either voter registration or in casting their votes in elections, although they are compliant with other aspects of Somaliland authority regarding respecting local laws and paying all types of taxes. This is a fact that cannot be ignored and a reality that would an adverse impact on the fair regional representation, hence brewing deep contentions and frictions in the nation if left unattended and unaddressed in a manner acceptable to all.

For instance, it can be resolved if either an agreed percent of  registered voters in these regions are added to the registered voters count or additional parliamentary seats are awarded for compensation.

Seat Allocations of 2005 Election

Grand  Total of Registered Voters Count in Somaliland Republic:  704,089

Final choice would be to continue using the current parliamentary seat allocation for one more time provided Somaliland Census Bureau will be established after the election so the future elections would be based on the census record rather than voter registration or any other arbitrary system.

Somaliland Guurti debating on regional seat allocations in 2016

In conclusion, there is no much time left from the date set for upcoming elections, and it is for the interest of this nation to have timely elections, so a parliamentary seat quotas acceptable to all regions would bring about another impressive election that greatly advances our quest for recognition as sovereign state.

We have to set aside tribal as well as regional affiliations and think of in terms of national interest by starting honest debating about the right choice of parliamentary seat allocation. This is not an issue that can be tackled alone by the government.

Omar A. Yussuf
Dalada “Danta Qaranka Somaliland” (Somaliland First Initiative)
slwadani@yahoo.com
Oakland, California USA


Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed are those of the author/authors and do not reflect the views of Somaliland Intellectuals Institute (SII) and/or its sponsors. SII reserves the right to edit articles before publication. If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to webmaster@somalilandintellectualsinstitute.org January 6, 2018