SOMALILAND: THE GROWTH OF TRIBAL INFLUENCE ON POLITICAL ENGAGEMENTS IS THE ECHO OF A FAILED LEADERSHIP


By Mohamed Ahmed Abdi Ba’alul

Despite of successful electoral competitions and peaceful political turnovers that made Somaliland so special, our democratization process appears to be more fragile than previous periods. The absence of parliamentary checks, the voiced concerns of judicial independence and growing public discontent could bring our democratization process to an apparent standstill.

It seems that all emphasis were placed on elections, rather than injecting democratic ideals in to the system. Elections are merely, one of the procedural preconditions of the democratization process and transition to political plurality. In this context, it should not be perceived that electoral competitions are the ultimate ends of democracy. The ends of democracy are to realize better life based on equality, justice, and respect of human rights and freedoms. Elections are one of the various means to that ends.

If democracy is a process that only delivers political leaders who are incompetent to realize the minimum standards of these ends; it is a misleading pretension. Elections without profound democratic principles would be a political justification for the leadership of incompetent leaders who fail to change the social and economic situations.

Our democratic process was hijacked by tribal politics. The adoption of constitutions or the emergence of political parties does not marked the end of the clan-based politics.

We find ourselves more inclined to the application of traditional mechanisms rather the formal rules. If you look back to all political disputes among parties, you could see that all of them were solved through dialogue and consensus. Parties and the public are bound to accept political compromises without questioning their legalities. Because the prevailing fears of political unrest was the impetus for unsustainable solutions.

Being obsessed about the prospects of instability; is what made us skeptic about the efficiency of the formal approach in resolving the issues. As result of those apprehensions, we failed to get to the bottom of the constitutional crises that we went through. This skepticism will be an obstacle to our political and legal evolution.

We are fools if we think that political compromises or Abdiwarabe’s package are always reliable. Our political fears were and are focusing on today, not on the next episodes of the life. As result of that short-sight, one should bear in mind that we cannot escape from the probabilities of facing the same legal and political contentions of the past.

Look at Kulmiye party, instead of developing itself into viable political party with solid institutional bases or at least fostering political vision founded on shared ideals that could lead us in to better life; we see it reversing to where it had started the race. Are not we learning enough from the experiences of the past? Where is Udub? What happened to Ucid? Or previously divided Kulmiye in to two opposite wings?

All of that happened to them, because they were artificial or “brief case” parties. Even today, when you take a close look at Kulmiye party, which could be said, it’s politically, the most successful association; it has no sign of political evolution or prospect of democratic consolidation. The ruling party’s conduct, its clan-based equations, or the way its internal conflicts were handled are not the only paradigm of the existing structural infirmity of our national parties but also proves the administrative failures. It shows the absence of long-term strategic visions other than the desire to get or hold the power by hook or crook.

The absence of the controlling body that could hold the Parties accountable is also one of the factors that scratched the salt to the wounds. That is why we deflected from the constitutional philosophy behind the foundation of limited political parties. The theoretical objectives that were attempting to distance our political engagements from the influence of clan affairs. But now, we see the ruling party deviating from the course of our shared ideals and deliberately chose to breach legal aims of our national law, especially article 2 (3) of regulation of political parties and associations law; law no 14.The provision spells as following:

Article 2:

General principles and compliance with the law

1. The parties/associations must comply with the provisions of Constitution, the laws of the land and democratic procedures and must not damage the unity of the country, the territorial integrity of the Republic of Somaliland and the public security.

2. The parties/associations shall participate in educating their supporters about electoral contests and democracy and shall pay particular attention to women and the youth.

3. The parties/associations must not be based on clanism, single gender or on any other issue which divides the society.

4. The parties and the associations shall be managed in a manner which is in accord with this Law and is not in conflict with Islamic Sharia, the Constitution of the nation, and the laws of the land and the (relevant) Rules of the parties or associations.

5. Any person who is a Somaliland citizen and who fulfils the conditions set out in this Law shall have the right to form a political association in accordance with this Law.

Whereas enforcing bodies, namely the Statutory Committee assigned for the Registration of Political Parties or Electoral Commission are turning a blind eye to the political malpractices of ruling party. Their auditing or follow up role were confined to UDHIS and NDP political associations which were denied their political rights on the grounds of the above mentioned article.

As long as, tribalism remains to be the political spirit of our party engagements, we are bound to cope with its unfavorable aspects when it comes to governance, social justice and legal enforcement.


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