Somaliland parliament on Tuesday elected a new speaker, in its first session which was preceded by oath-taking of the MPs, who were elected on May 31st during the parliamentary and local council elections in Somaliland.
Abdirizak Khalif Ahmed, a candidate from the opposition WADDANI party elected as new Somaliland parliament Speaker, defeating Yassin Faratoon from ruling KULMIYE party and former Foreign minister by 42 to 39 votes.
Said Mire Farah aka Gireh was elected as first deputy speaker of Somaliland parliament while Ali Hamud Jibril becomes the second deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, both MPs are from opposition party UCID.
In May, President Muse Bihi’s ruling party lost parliamentary polls to a rejuvenated opposition but was keen to capture the speaker’s seat. Instead, WADDANI had reportedly struck a deal with UCID to lead the House by sharing the leadership positions.
The new House speaker is a businessman who joined politics in 2009, held ministerial posts twice during President Sillanyo’s administration before moving from the Kulmiye to WADDANI in 2015.
For a moment, after the new MPs took the oath of office, the situation heated up as a constitutional gap emerged.
Article 44 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland stipulated that once the MPs took the office the eldest member of the House would call the House to order so to elect the Speaker and Deputies.
“The new House shall be opened by the Chairman of the Supreme Court who shall administer the oath of office to the members. The meeting of the House shall then be chaired by the oldest member (in age), and the House shall then elect, from amongst its members, a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker”, the article stated.
This time around, the eldest member present, Professor Yassin Mohamoud Hir ‘Faratoon’ – the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – happened to be a candidate for the top position, and the Constitution did not foresee that happenstance.
The MPs unanimously voiced that the Chief Justice, Adan Haji Ali, who just administered the oath chair the session. He, in turn, proposed that the Elders Speaker and the outgoing House Speaker, Bashe Mohamed Farah, help him dispense the conferred duty. The House moved to the next stage of voting on this arrangement.
In the recently concluded parliamentary election, Somaliland opposition parties managed to get majority seats of the house but this couldn’t make it possible for them to win the race after some of their MPs endorsed Faraton as the speaker.
But, the story changed after Ahmed Nour Guruje and Mead, lawmakers from the ruling party, explicitly voted for Abdirizak Khalif which led to him becoming the new speaker of the house.
This effectively means the ruling Kulmiye party lost House leadership to the opposition.
In May, the opposition through Waddani and UCID parties won a combined 52 seats of the 82 in contention while the ruling Kulmiye party managed only 30 seats. Overall, Waddani had 31 seats across Somaliland.
Somaliland President Muse Bihi has received at his office the newly elected speaker of the house of representatives, Abdirizak Khalif, who is from the main opposition party Waddani. It was a meeting that started with a smile and ended with congratulations.
The President extended gratitude to the new members of the House of Representatives for the democratic and transparent speakership vote. He said the election can’t divide their nation and the house will be stronger than ever after despite the ruling party candidate losing the race.
“This is another victory round for Somaliland democracy,” stated the President, who received the new leadership along with the three leaders who co-chaired the session and a number of other MPs at his office across the road. “Somaliland has won once again. The new Somaliland parliament will be working as one for the good of the larger nation and no one party or group can claim victory given the colossal task that lay ahead,” the president added.
In fact, the unique blend of traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution and modern practices of democracy, has largely contributed to the very existence of the Republic of Somaliland in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds for the past 30 years.
The outcome on Tuesday signifies that the ruling party Kulmiye’s flag bearer, current President Muse Bihi Abdi is facing a reelection debacle in which Waddani leader Abdirahman Irro is a leading contender in 2022.
Many scholars, researchers, writers, and diplomats have praised today’s election of Somaliland parliament leadership in the social media networks.
Reaction to the opposition victory was swift showing unreserved support with Somalilanders.
Many scholars, researchers, writers, and diplomats have praised this move which the opposition MPs won the leadership of the Somaliland Parliament.
Below are some examples:
Somaliland envoy to the United States, Ambassador Bashir Goth tweeted “Another lesson in democracy from #Somaliland, the country of hope in the Horn of Africa! The President congratulates the newly elected speaker from the opposition.”
— Bashir Goth (@baruud) August 3, 2021
“This only happens in #Somaliland. No other African country has a real democracy anymore,” tweeted Amal Ismail, a Researcher, and analyst on Security, Conflict, and Politics in the Horn of Africa
Somaliland's democracy and rule of law stands out again!!
— Amal Ismail (@Amalhoa4) August 3, 2021
— Amal Ismail (@Amalhoa4) August 3, 2021
Stuart Brown, the head of the British Office in Somaliland who attended the first session of the nation’s elected Parliament on his part tweet “Congratulations to all new #Somaliland MPs sworn into the House of Representatives this morning, and also to the newly elected speaker and deputies. The UK looks forward to working with you over the next five years.”
“This is how the Horn’s only democracy works. Somaliland leaders congratulate each other after their party candidates’ contest for speaker of the House ended in the opposition’s Abdirizak Khalif winning against ruling party’s Yasin Faratoon by 3 votes to clinch the post,” wrote Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, Senior journalist and a political and security analyst in the Horn of Africa.
This is how the Horn's only democracy works.Somaliland leaders congratulate each other after their party candidates' contest for speaker of the House ended in the opposition's Abdirizak Khalif winning against ruling party's Yasin Fartoon by 3 votes to clinch the post. pic.twitter.com/iiXNn0HskP
— Yusuf Gabobe (@yGabobe) August 3, 2021
— Abdiaziz AJ Dirie (@abdiazizade1) August 3, 2021
It's a pleasure to be part of the historical moment to witness all new #Somaliland MPs sworn in to the House of Representatives today.
— Taiwan In Somaliland (@Taiwan_SLD) August 3, 2021
Somaliland Parliament elected its speaker and two deputies. We did it again. We competed vigorously within the law, and accept immediately the result of competition without reservation. Our enemies expect discord and violence. They always fail,and Somaliland wins. #Somaliland pic.twitter.com/tTQlqr3se3
— Ahmed Hassan Arwo (@samotalis) August 3, 2021
Congratulations to the elected speaker of the Somaliland House of representative and his deputies.#Somaliland's democracy and rule of law stands out in an area known for unrest and political instabilities.
As the president said, This is a moment of pride for our nation. pic.twitter.com/NJHB39SWgF
— Ismael Shirwac (@Ismael_Shirwac) August 3, 2021
These events are unique to the Republic of Somaliland pic.twitter.com/rj5hj2nqhG
— Abdirizak Ahmed Barre (@somalilander143) August 3, 2021
The President of the Republic of Somaliland H.E. @musebiihi received and congratulated the new opposition speaker of the House of Representatives at the Presidential Palace.
Extending & expressing congratulations is part and parcel of our political culture – only in Somaliland! pic.twitter.com/gO20Eh8dLe
— Amb Mohamed Hagi (@AmbMohamedHagi) August 3, 2021
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