Guurti extends Somaliland President and Parliament terms by 22 months

Somaliland’s Upper House (Guurti) has today extended the terms of the President, Vice President and House of Representatives until 27 April 2017. This means that the Guurti term has also indirectly been extended until 2018 as the Constitution of Somaliland states that the Guurti term must expire one year after the term of the House of Representatives.

In a press statement issued upon the completion of today’s session, the Guurti said that they decided to extend the term of the President and the one of House of Representatives after they consulted with the three national parties, evaluated the situation of Eastern Regions and  considered the lack of voter registration.

This means that the original date (1 June 2016) the National Electoral Commission (NEC) set the election to take place is no longer in effect.

The Guurti mentioned that they put off the elections due to lack of electoral law in place for the elections of House of Representative and that developing this law needed time for dialogue, compromise and endorsement which the parliament could not achieve within the timeframe proposed by the NEC.

The Guurti also considered the climate situation of Somaliland coastal areas as well as the downturn of economic activities resulted from Yemeni crises.

However, the country’s two opposition parties strongly rejected the extension and vowed that they will not accept anything other than the date proposed by NEC.

“I don’t think the Guurti have justification for their decision. The timeframe (proposed by NEC) was sufficient for the Government to hold elections. Today’s Guurti decision will only jeopardize Somaliland’s reputation over elections and will lead the country to political conflict. It will also cause international community to isolate Somaliland. We expect the President to be responsible enough to consider all these issues and endorse only the schedule put forward by NEC” said Waddani party chairman Abdirahman Abdillahi Irro.

The second opposition party UCID expressed that they stand the same position as Waddani. “As opposition parties, we don’t think that this decision (term extension) is rational. We will never accept it” Faysal Ali Waraabe vows.

Waddani party also bitterly complained about the Government for arresting over 60 of their leaders and closing the party’s offices across the country.

It is widely believed that the Guurti, country’s highest constitutional body, is unlikely to revise their decision.

Y. M. Adde