(SomalilandPress)-Somaliland political landscape is now filled with accusations and counter-accusations about Somaliland government’s decision to expel Interpeace from the country. The Somaliland president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, has questioned the role of Interpeace in the voter registration process. In a Press Statement, Interpeace challenged the Somaliland government’s allegations that the “international peacebuilding organization” was in the country illegally, but acknowledged that the voter registration system was “seriously abused during its implementation”. The two main Somaliland opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID, banded together to challenge what they see as an attempt by the Somaliland president, “ to remain in power illegally”. A somewhat similar accusation can be leveled against the two opposition parties: that they want to grab the power by the endorsing the flawed registration system. President Dahir Riyale Kahin told the Somali Universal TV that “major flaws have surfaced in the registration system. We are investigating the matter.” Translation: if the registration system is used for the forthcoming Somaliland elections, opposition parties will stand better chance to win.
The issue of voter registration was hotly debated in pro-Somaliland websites more than six months ago. “The results are absurd” argued one writer. Some commentators have alleged that multiple registrations had taken place in several districts.
Neither the two opposition parties nor the ruling party, UDUB, have sought to address the voter registration issue. The National Electoral Commission of Somaliland stated that elections will take place without the voter registration system. The opposition parties said they had withdrawn confidence in NEC. Where does this crisis leave the fledgling Somaliland democracy? Is the opposition parties’ allegation that NEC is not an independent body true? The opposition parties have not shown evidence for government meddling in the work of NEC but would like to have Somalilanders believe that NEC is a partisan body, just as Somaliland government wants Somalilanders to look upon the opposition parties as a group of power-hungry men for whom the voter registration system is a reliable ticket to the Somaliland presidency.
Liban Ahmad is the authof A Map of Confusion: Somaliland, Puntland and People of Sool Region in Somalia