The leaders of the two national opposition parties of the Republic of Somaliland, separately, revealed that His Excellency the President went back on his promise that he would fully abide by the proposal of the mediation committee regarding a mutually acceptable early reschedule of the oft-postponed parliamentary elections.
The Chairman of Waddani, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Irro’, first speaking on behalf of the opposition parties following a meeting they had had with the President on the matter, Monday, said President Musa Bihi Abdi told them there was nothing he could about the dissolution of the newly nominated National Electoral Commission (NEC) members.
“The President told us that there was nothing he could do to disband the new commission legally and that they have rejected a proposal put to them to voluntarily resign,” he said.
Chairman Irro added that it appeared to them that the President intentionally chose to go back on his word and the deadline the government and its party requested and received for a solution to the outstanding hurdles which came and passed on 10 January. Central to the issue of early elections was the disbandment of the new commission and reinstatement of the previous one to save time since the older commission was quite conversant with the technical and administrative requisites needed for the conduct of a smooth election.
“The President told us to go back to NEC members’ clans and ask them to convince members to resign which took us bu surprise,” he said.
Three of the six new NEC members were nominated by the President, two by the Guurti – the upper House of the Somaliland bicameral parliament, and 1 by UCID. Waddani member was not among those passed by the Lower House on 11 December 2019.
NEC members had nothing to do with clans and had never been nominated by clans. That the President relegate them to clan representatives is a completely new phenomenon to the Somaliland democracy scene.
Chairman Irro appealed directly to the new commission to consider national interests before their own and resign in deference to public wishes.
“Since the President has chosen has taken this recalcitrant decision we, the opposition parties, will meet on the development returning the matter to the voluntary committee, for one, to deliberate on it,” Faisal Ali Waraabe, UCID Chairman said later during the day speaking with the BBC Somali Service.
Faisal sounded more dismayed and less confident of a quick change of heart on the part of the President and the ruling party he chaired.
Faisal also accused the President of unpresidential-like behaviour during their meeting which included abusive language and propensity to physical violence.
The three political parties and the government accepted to implement the proposals which a voluntary mediation committee of businessmen, literary men, and traditional leaders put to them on 16 December to resolve contentious issues relating to parliamentary and local councils elections which the government appeared not too keen to hold.
Critics had predicted exactly the same scenario which unfolded today. The decision which the President had conveyed to the other parties, they said, was to be expected.
“The President is only going through moves to project that he was not averse to the mediation committee proposal proposals,” they said. “At the same time, he had no intention of asking his nominees to resign, promising them other assignments, which he could do so not to appear a weak leader who was bowing to opposition demands – something which went against his nature”.
Everything considered the President’s position would only further dwindle a support base that has voted him to the position he holds. Instead of projecting him as an ‘iron leader’ by taking tough stands on issues of national import, observers now contend that he is painting himself into a tight corner. The opposition has often maintained that President Bihi was behaving more like a coup d’état military leader rather than a democratically elected president accountable to the wishes of his constituents.
“The President is moving away further and further from how the public felt about these matters only listening to a few cronies – if any – who have their own interests at heart more than that of the nation,” the more critical of the President’s critics believe which observation is becoming less bizarre and less caustic to even his most ardent supporters by the day.