Commissioner Hassan Yussuf Duale, representing the national opposition party, UCID, at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) resigns to pave the way for a change of commissioners.

“I decided to resign in order to respect public opinion and the wishes of electoral stakeholders,” he said.

Mr Duale said he arrived at this decision to, also, save the integrity and reputation of the Republic of Somaliland.

Mr Duale’s resignation paves the way for the resignation of the other 5 members of the commission. Waddani member was neither presented himself for approval of parliament nor has even shown desire to become a member in the face of the raging controversy which surrounded the new NEC commissioners since they were named late last year.

Mr Duale’s presence legitimized NEC in that he, in the absence of the Waddani opposition party representative, lent the commission some sort of legitimacy as the opposition was still represented in the new roster – even if it was ineffective and incomplete.

In the absence of the two members representing UCID and Waddani, the two national opposition members, there is no way the rest of the commissioners can cling on to their positions.

Three of the commissioners were, by law, nominated by His Excellency the President, Musa Bihi Abdi, and the two others by the upper house of the Somaliland bicameral parliament – the Guurti. The remaining five are generally labelled as pro-government lines and cannot be expected to act in any objective manner in the elections envisaged or any other issue to adjudge an issue between the ruling party and opposition parties.

The opposition parties recently called commission members to resign since the President declared that he could not exert any kind of pressure on the members. Instead, the President deferred such a prerogative to clans who have no clout over a supposedly democratic body such as NEC. It was the first time stakeholders were told to view the commissioners on a clan screen.

Opposition parties accused the President of going back on his word, seeing fit as more hedging on the part of the President and the ruling party.

That the new commission be disbanded and the old one reinstated was among a five-point resolution a voluntary mediation committee proposed on mid-December 2019 to deescalate prevailing political tensions. The two opposition parties immediately accepted the VMC proposals turning the tables on the government since it was them who vehemently challenged the old commission where the government defended them to the last day of their term which expired in November 2019.

International partners recommended that the oft-postponed parliamentary elections be held within 2020 ruling out extensions the Guurti gave itself and its sidekick – the House of Representatives – which meant that elections were to be pushed back to beyond two more years.