- Despite the prolonged failure of parliament to pass an election law, Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin on Wednesday reiterated his government's promise to hold parliamentary elections on 29 March. The Hargeisa parliament has been unable to agree on proper legislation for a year.
Delivering his annual address to the two houses of parliament on Wednesday, 12 January, President Riyale urged the Somaliland parliament to execute its constitutional duties and pass the election law with in a period of not more than one week so that the nation could complete its democratic journey, of which only the parliamentary elections remain.
Praising the two chambers of parliament for being the bodies that had implemented the legislatures and the constitution that had enabled the country two previous elections, he challenged them "to show the courage it takes to also achieve this last step."
- A question may be raised as to how the elections could be held despite the situation in the eastern regions, President Riyale told parliamentarians. The Somaliland President referred to the Sool and Saanag provinces, which are partially occupied by the autonomous Puntland province of northern Somalia.
President Riyale nevertheless urged parliament to find a solution. "I believe you know that elections were held or being held in places that have similar situations as ours or even worse such as Palestine in which elections were held the other day, Iraq which is preparing for one as well as northern Uganda and Sudan. I believe, therefore, that we also will not lack the skill to conduct our elections," he said.
He affirmed his government's promise to conduct a national census before the next elections as mentioned in the constitution so that parliamentary seats could be distributed according to population, "but today I say what we need from you is to come up with a consensus decision that could lead us to a better future."
Parliamentarians in Hargeisa have been accused of trying to postpone the holding of Somaliland's first legislative elections in fear of losing their seats and privileges. The upcoming parliamentary poll will be the last step in democratising Somaliland's institutions, as local, constitutional and presidential poll have already been organised.
Speaking further on the upcoming election, the Somaliland President in particular urged the country's national parties to "give prime importance to the inclusion of women and minorities in the list of their candidates."
On the eastern regions of the country - over which Somaliland disputes with Puntland - President Riyale said "we all know the situation there but we are trying to find the best possible way to overcome the problem. It is a national issue that is waiting for a national position."
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