“Somaliland democracy is seriously ill” Prof. Abdi Ali Jama
A once ruling party should be number two or three when in opposition. Then, how come such a party lacks resilience and not being able to regroup and recover from a defeat blow to sustain its existence, let alone to be second or third party in terms of popularity. This is beyond comprehension of anyone who is not fully aware of underlying causes. Something must be wrong in the first place. One might ask himself if Somaliland political parties are basically “one time use” platforms for attaining power.
Dissolution of Former ruling party, Udub, which is the eldest of all the parties, is wake up call for all of us. Somaliland democracy is seriously ill, in the sense that political parties themselves are not healthy enough to survive after losing power. The main reason, in my view, is that leaders of a political party do share nothing except the aim to grab power for personal gain, let alone rank and file members who give their loyalty to political figures of different parties just for being X tribe or Y tribe.
What is worse is that the leader or presidential candidate of each party seems to be the owner and he is alone expected to finance the party operations or campaigns which are flagrant violation of international principles of political parties. The party should get its finance from subscriptions of its members; if not, we’d better name it a different name rather than a national political party. Perhaps one’s shop or firm or farm…I don’t know.
As an individual who is privy to the national parties, my prophecy is telling me that other political parties might follow suit because they suffer from same ailment and if so, something must be done to reform the whole democratic process by introducing new rules and regulation enacted by parliament that would not allow, for example, someone or group of people to own a party by financing it themselves alone. Members must subscribe; if not, the party must cease to exist by law.
In addition to that, having seen the inauspicious upcoming local council elections, I am becoming increasingly convinced that Somaliland democracy process should be reviewed and given corrective injection in order to forestall its demise in a very early stage. I am not saying so because political parties are many; that is not the core problem. The number of political parties can be even greater. Lack of within party democracy is actually where the shoe pinches at the present time. The new polices for regulation of political parties should say clearly that any party that allegedly fails to manifest inner party democracy would lose being a national party if convicted by the court after a certain number of its members had filed a case against it.
In the past, the biggest mistake we did was that we shifted to democracy era all of a sudden without prior preparation. Such radical transformation should have been done after long contemplation that would prepare the country to enter into democracy age. We should have had adequate time to debate on the transition issue and plan strategically for it.
However, you can’t unring a bell as it is often said. All what we can do now is re- introducing democracy gradually. In this reform, I would suggest to revoke local council elections temporarily not permanently so as not to violate some articles of the constitution. In other words, election of councilors would be held in abeyance until we master the other two elections— presidency and parliament. However, the upcoming election should be conducted as planned but just for selecting the three national parties.
For the time being, I would suggest to the president and parliament to amend electoral laws so that it would suit the aforementioned suggestion. In this situation, Mayors would be nominated by political parties together in proportion to votes.
By: Prof. Abdi Ali Jama