Somaliland’s Democracy Put To Test, Passes

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By Dawit Endeshaw

As Somaliland’s fifth President was sworn into power, the international community applauded the democratic elections and peaceful transition of power in the self-declared sovereign country of Somaliland, this week.

During the presidential inauguration ceremony at the National Palace, dignitaries from the European Union (EU) and other European countries along with leaders from neighboring countries such as Ethiopia attended the event and applauded Somaliland for its peaceful transition of power. Held in the early morning of December 13, 2017, the inauguration ceremony also attracted thousands of Somalilanders from all walks of life.

“We congratulate Somaliland for conducting a peaceful, democratic and inclusive election,” EU Ambassador to Somali Veronique Lorenzo said.

The presidential election, which is the third of its kind in the self-proclaimed Somaliland since 2003, brought Muse Bihi Abdi to power, who replaced Mohamed Sillanyo. Both men were (the incumbent and the president-elect) were from Kulimye, a major political party in Somaliland.

Somaliland claimed its independence in 1991 from the then Somali Republic.

The 69-year-old president from Isaaq clan is expected to lead his country to more economic growth and political inclusiveness.

Muse Bihi, before reaching to such heights, was a commanding officer for the Somali National Movement, a rebel group during the war to overthrow President Siyad Barre in the 1980s. During such crucial time, Ethiopia under the Derg regime used to support the rebel group as a way of weakening the Barre government. Few historical accounts also show that Barre’s government was supporting and assisting the then rebel fighters in Ethiopia.

Bahi was also an interior minister, representing his party Kulmiye in the 1990s. The ruling party Kulmiye was praised for archiving stability and economic growth. Yet, it was also under the scrutiny by commentators of a widespread Corruption as well as for running clan politics.

Since 2017, there was a fighting with Khaatumo separatist, near the Ethiopian border.

He is now the fifth president of the country, (with the population estimated to be no less than 3.5 million where 70 percent is under 30 years of age.

“You have healing to do,” Ambassador Lorenzo said while speaking at the inauguration.

Dragging Somaliland out of the economic depreciation, poverty and security problems as well as, getting recognition from the international community will be the next assignments of Abdi.

Following the direct election, Somaliland is expected to hold its parliamentary election in 2019. As far as the political makeup is concerned, the Parliament has 82 seats and there is also called the house of elders also known as Guurt.

Currently, the economy of Somaliland is highly dependent on livestock export which makes up 30 percent of the GDP. Diaspora funds and insignificant contribution from the Port of Berbera are also – to a small extent – part of the macro-economy of the country. In addition, charity from Gulf countries, particularly Kuwait and Turkey, is evident.

The country exports livestock, hides, and fishes to the Gulf States.

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