HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — The legislative assembly in Somaliland, which is composed of two chambers – an appointed elder’s chamber, and a House of Representatives, has passed a legislation that will extend both chambers serving terms for than two years. In addition, the legislative assembly extended the terms of regional and municipal representatives in the country.

In an unscheduled meeting in Somaliland Interior Minister building, the Upper house of the legislative assembly, the House of Elders passed this legislation to extend their serving by overwhelming majority. The Chairman of the Elders, Sheikh Ahmed Sheik Nuhh Furre presided in the meeting. 68 members of The House of elders participated in the legislative assembly.

The bill extends terms of existing House of Elder, which expired in 2007 to another 3 years and eight months. It also extends the House of Representative serving term, which is ending in December of this year to another 32 months (one year and eight months.) In addition, the bill extends the terms of appointed municipal and regional representatives to another 18 months. Sixty-five members voted Yes to the legislations while two members did not cast votes.

The Vice Chairman of the House of Elders, Mr. Saeed Jama Ali, addressed the assembly. He said:

It is not possible to held another major election in the country at this moment. All three political parties in the country and the National Electoral Commission agree on that. There is no question about that. The Somaliland constitution affirms that if election cannot be held, the existing legislators should continue serving.

The passing of this bill comes two days later after the Somaliland president Mr. Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo sent a letter to the legislative branch in which he demanded from them to pass a resolution in coming up with a solution since the country cannot held another election for parliament and local regional representatives. This extension clearly comes under blessing of the current president. But it is not clear if the administration agree of the length of the extension.

The term of House the Elders has expired under the previous administration; it was extended more than once. The lower chamber of the parliament term is expiring in December of this year. Somaliland held much delayed presidential election in June of this year, in which the incumbent president was defeated and peaceful transitional of power followed after vigorous and historic presidential race.

The House of Elders in Somaliland represents all clans that make up the country. The elders in Somaliland play important political and social role in Somali culture. This traditional governing system has been integrated into Somaliland political structures since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Unlike the Lower House or the House of Representatives, the House of Elders are not elected, they are appointed by such clan that make up Somaliland.

Opposition and Public Reaction

The opposing parties have condemned this extension and described it as unconstitutional and divisive. the opposition Party UCID released the following statement.

This extension for both chambers of Parliament is fraud. We don’t agree with it. It is like someone extending his or her own serving term with no check or balance. The parliament or the president did not consulate with civic leaders, with national electoral commission and other political parties in the country. Extending for more than three years is not acceptable. The country could afford another election in less than three years.

Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, the previous Somaliland vice president and high-ranked official in UDUB party condemn the extension. In statement released to the local press, the ex-vice president said:

“The president has stepped over the constitution and the he did not consulted with us or other The National Electoral Commission about the length of the extension. The president killed the system of check and balance we have in the country.”

Pubic reaction in the street of Hargeisa varied between agreement and disagreement. Many people I talked to were disappointed by the president’s actions. They said that President Silanyo followed in footsteps of the previous administration, which agreed to extend the legislative assembly more than once. Other people I talked in the streets of Hargeisa agreed with the president because it falls within the constitution boundaries and the country cannot afford to hold another election at the moment.

Most people and political figures in the country agree with this extension, but they disagree on the length of the extension. Political parties think the extension is too long and that it does not give them an opportunity to compete in the parliament and regional representation.

Reported From Hargeisa Abdiqani Baynah and contributed by Mohamed Gulaid

Somalilandpress | September 7th, 2010