This article explores the detrimental impact of the clan system on democracy in Somaliland, and highlights the challenges faced in achieving fair and inclusive elections and the consequences of the clan system on society and governance. The article aims to raise awareness and promote efforts to address these challenges.

Somaliland, a self-declared state in the horn of Africa, faces significant challenges in maintaining a strong democracy and protecting human rights. The influence of the Clan system and traditional elders has proven to be a hindrance to progress and accountability. Somaliland holds regular elections and boasts a functioning democracy compared to its war-torn neighbor. However, the presence of the Clan system and traditional elders continues to pose significant challenges to the country’s democratic institutions and human rights record.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after a devastating civil war. Since then, it has managed to establish a stable government, maintain security, and develop much-needed infrastructure. Despite these achievements, it still grapples with the influence of the Clan system and traditional elders. The Clan system, deeply rooted in Somaliland’s culture, assigns importance to kinship and lineage. Traditional elders, who hold significant authority within the society, are often chosen based on their Clan affiliation. As a result, decision-making processes are heavily influenced by Clan dynamics.

The clan system in Somaliland has deep historical roots, stemming from pre-colonial times. Clans are traditionally organized around shared ancestry and kinship ties. They have played a vital role in maintaining social order, resolving disputes, and allocating resources within communities.

The clan system in Somaliland is a social structure based on extended family networks and lineages. Clans play a significant role in the cultural, political, and economic dynamics of the region. They serve as a source of identity, social support, and decision-making structures within communities. Despite the fact that it established institutions, held regular elections, and implemented a multi-party system. However, challenges persist in ensuring inclusive representation, political stability, and the consolidation of democratic values.

The influence of clans on politics and governance poses challenges to the democratic processes in Somaliland. Clan affiliations often dominate political alliances and voting patterns, creating a system where clan interests may supersede national interests. This can lead to unequal representation, limited political competition, and difficulties in effective governance.

Despite progress in holding elections, ensuring fair and inclusive electoral processes remains a challenge. Clan influences and dynamics can hinder equal access to political participation, competition, and representation. Addressing these challenges is crucial for building a more inclusive and representative democracy in Somaliland. The clan system in Somaliland has had profound consequences on society and governance. It has led to fragmentation within communities, perpetuated divisions, and hindered nation-building efforts. The reliance on clan affiliations has also impeded social cohesion, economic development, and the establishment of strong national institutions.

The Clan system can lead to political instability and power struggles, hindering the country’s progress towards a more peaceful and democratic society because tensions between different Clans can undermine social cohesion and foster divisions within communities. Ineffective governance resulting from Clan-driven decision-making can hinder economic development and discourage foreign investment.

The Las’Anod war serves as a poignant example of how clan conflicts rooted in the traditional clan system can escalate into full-scale violence. The conflict resulted in significant human suffering, displacement, and destabilization in the region.

The Clan system undermines democratic inclusivity because it marginalizes minority groups, limiting their participation in political processes and representation in the government, and leads to Clientelism and corruption because the Politicians tend to prioritize their Clan’s interests over the public’s welfare, leading to nepotism, patronage, and a lack of transparency, furthermore, it has challenges to democratic principles because the dominance of Clan affiliations undermines the principles of equal representation, meritocracy, and the rule of law.

The Clan system perpetuates discrimination, hampers social integration, and restricts the enjoyment of human rights for vulnerable groups, such as women, minorities, and internally displaced persons.

The traditional elders’ influence can impede progress towards gender equality, as they often adhere to patriarchal norms and discourage women from fully participating in public life.

While Somaliland has made remarkable strides in establishing a functioning democracy and maintaining relative stability, the Clan system and traditional elders pose significant challenges. Efforts must be made to balance cultural values and the principles of democracy and human rights to ensure a more equitable and inclusive society for all Somalilanders.

In conclusion, the clan system has had a damaging effect on democracy in Somaliland and has fueled conflicts such as the Las’Anod conflict. Addressing the challenges posed by the clan system is essential for fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy, promoting national unity, and advancing the development goals of Somaliland. It is crucial that efforts be made to promote dialogue, reconciliation, and the empowerment of marginalized communities.

Yousef Timacade.

Yousef Timacade is lawyer, legal analyst and commentator. He has a master’s degrees in law and executive management, and has been working with national and international non governmental organizations for the last ten years in the areas of program management,