Politics of Somaliland

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politics and government of

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The politics of Somaliland take place within a hybrid system of governance, which, under the Somaliland region's constitution, combines traditional and western institutions. The constitution separates government into an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch, each of which functions independently from the others.[1]


For its first twelve years, Somaliland had no political parties but instead followed more traditional clan-based forms of political organization. Political parties were introduced during the presidential elections and it was hoped that the recent parliamentary elections would help to usher in a representative system without allowing representation to be overtly clan-based.

District elections then held determined which parties were allowed to contest the parliamentary and presidential elections, where a party was required to demonstrate at least twenty percent of the popular vote from four out of the six regions. This was designed to ensure that parties would not organize around ethnic lines. Three parties were selected to submit presidential candidates: the United Democratic Peoples’ Party (UDUB), Kulmiye, and the Party for Justice and Welfare (UCID). On April 14, 2003, 488,543 voters participated in the presidential elections, which ran more or less smoothly. The result was a slim eighty vote controversial victory for UDUB over the Kulmiye, complicated by allegations of ballot stuffing against the incumbent UDUB. Despite calls for the Kulmiye to form a rival government, the party’s leadership did not do so, instead choosing to abide by the Supreme Court ruling that declared UDUB’s victory. Despite minor demonstrations, the transition to the presidency of Dahir Riyale Kahin proceeded peacefully. A traditional system of governance consisted of clan elders who go by titles such as sultans, guurti or akils. They usually ordered the paying of diya, which is a payment system for any grievances, or dealt in arbitration matters.[2]

System of government

Somaliland has a hybrid system of governance combining traditional and western institutions. In a series of inter-clan conferences, culminating in the Borama Conference in 1993, a qabil (clan or community) system of government was constructed, which consisted of an Executive, with a President, Vice President, and legislative government; a bicameral Legislature; and an independent judiciary. The traditional Somali elderates (guurti) was incorporated into the governance structure and formed the upper house, responsible for managing internal conflicts. Government became in essence a "power-sharing coalition of Somaliland's main clans," with seats in the Upper and Lower houses proportionally allocated to clans according to a pre-determined formula. In 2002, after several extensions of this interim government, Somaliland finally made the transition to multi-party democracy, with district council elections contested by six parties.

Current situation

Despite setbacks in 1994 and 1996, Somaliland has managed to prosper, assisted by its trade in livestock with Saudi Arabia.

It faces some significant problems to its continued survival. Like other Somali governments, it lacks a consistent taxation base and receives most of its support from private actors. Corruption remains a problem, women are virtually unrepresented in government, and there are growing concerns about voting patterns based on ethnic lines as well as the majority that UDUB has gained over both the regional councils and presidency as well as the parliament.

Economic development has been heavily supported the diaspora, lack of international recognition prevents international aid to it as a country.

International relations

In 2005 Somaliland joined the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), an international organization dedicated to the promotion of the right to self-determination. The UN still says there are some boundaries Somaliland will have to cross before it is recognized.


On March 1, 2006, the Welsh Assembly invited Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, the speaker of the Somaliland parliament to the opening of a new Assembly building. Mr. Abdillahi said that Somaliland sees his invitation "as a mark of recognition by the National Assembly for Wales that [Somaliland has] legitimacy." The Somali community in Wales numbers 8.000-10.000, most of whom come from Somaliland.

In December 2006 representatives of the Somaliland Parliament again attended the Welsh Assembly receiving a standing ovation from its members. Two months earlier the Assembly approved the establishment of an aid budget for Africa. These moves were approved by the UK Foreign Office and Department for International Development and are seen as an attempt by the UK to encourage and reward the authorities in its former colony while avoiding the issue of formal recognition.[3]

Executive Branch

The House of Representatives in Hargeisa
Meeting hall, House of Representatives
Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Ahmed M. Mahamoud Silanyo PUDP 27 July 2010

Legislative Branch

The Parliament (Baarlamaanka) has two chambers. The House of Representatives (Golaha Wakiilada) has 82 members, elected for a five-year term. The House of Elders (Golaha Guurtida) has 82 members, representing traditional leaders.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Somaliland. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Somaliland.

Somaliland elects on national level a head of state (the president) and a legislature. The president is elected by the people for a five-year term.

2005 Parliamentary election

 Summary of the 28 September 2005 House of Representatives of Somaliland election results
Parties Votes % Seats
UDUB For Unity, Democracy, and Independence (Ururka dimuqraadiga ummadda bahawday) 261,449 39.0 33
KULMIYE Peace, Unity, and Development Party (KULMIYE Nabad, Midnimo iyo horumar) 228,328 34.1 28
UCID For Justice and Development (Ururka Caddaalada iyo Daryeelka) 180,545 26.9 21
Total 680,322 100.0 82
Invalid votes 4,585
Total votes cast 674,907
Source: IRI

2003 Presidential election

 Summary of the 14 April 2003 Somaliland presidential election results
Candidates - Nominating parties Votes %
Dahir Riyale Kahin - For Unity, Democracy, and Independence 205,595 41.23
Ahmed M. Mahamoud Silanyo - Peace, Unity, and Development Party 205,515 41.21
Faysal Cali Warabe - For Justice and Development 77,433 15.52
Valid votes 488,543 98.0
Invalid votes 10,096 2.0
Total (Turnout ?%) 498,639 100.0
Source: African elections

Dahir Riyale Kahin's Cabinet

See also


  1. "Somaliland Government". The Somaliland Government. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  2. World Disasters Report retrieved 25 February 2012
  3. "Somaliland: Wales Strikes Out On Its Own In Its Recognition of Somaliland". Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. 6 March 2005.
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