Somaliland’s presidential election is nearly a year-and-half away. If voting is managed wisely without any hiccups, Somaliland could surprise the world and earn global praise. Somalilanders anticipate having reasonably ‘good’ candidates to vote for like Jamal Ali of UCID and Abdirahman Mohamed Abdilahi “Irro” of the Wadani Opposition Party. Although Somaliland has politically matured and is ushering in a new era of candidates, it is confronted with a stark reality.
Former military and opposition candidate, Muse Bihi Abdi, wants to win the presidency as well. Somalia would continue to be a failed state if Muse unleashes his toxic campaign motto “anigoo kursiga taangi ku heli kara, ha la doorto baan idhi” or “although I can usurp power with tanks, I say elect me without any hesitation!” This sounds much like Charles Taylor’s election in Liberia whose voters elected him out of fear. Somaliland’s forthcoming elections have gone awry as militaries vie for power. Abdirahman ‘Irro’ represents a glimpse of hope that can lead Somaliland out of international isolation that has hindered development if Somalilanders are given the opportunity to freely choose their leader. Somaliland nationals won’t allow the incumbent president to handpick a military junta to rule Somaliland for the next generation.
Abdiqadir Qadir, the grand Sultan of Somaliland said, “Somaliland doesn’t need another military tyrant since it witnessed firsthand military’s rule!” Somalilanders are an oral society who pass on stories verbally but Muse’s involvement in the civil war is undeniably on record. In televised questioning by voters, he has neither shown any remorse for his past wrongdoings, does not offer condolences to his victims nor does he allow bygones to be bygones.
Muse’s effect on Somaliland
The ruling party’s declared candidate, Muse, roamed the east regions of Somaliland with an escort of tanks and military vehicles for fear of a backlash against his party from a splinter group called the Democratic Wing of Kulmiye party led by dissident Hirsi Haji Hassan. The dissident walked out of the ruling party following a dispute with the president’s backing of Muse Bihi as his successor over others because he is politically marketable to voters. The President’s beaconing Muse to become his successor is viewed with mistrust.
Currently alienated regions of Somaliland would feel antagonized if a military man were elected and some might reconsider their allegiance to the state. Wadani’s manifesto details a lengthy blueprint for a future government. Women and minority rights are a priority on their list.
Uncertainty of Somaliland’s future remains perilously high. International media equates Somaliland with Somalia after the ruling party betrayed the cause. The so-called champions of democracy pay lip service to Somaliland’s democratic elections as the ruling party amasses money.
Self-imposed reality confronts Somaliland’s 1.5 million eligible voters with a choice: do they want an ‘ex-Mujahid’ kind of warlord, another African Charles Taylor in the making, fixated on the past feuds that divides them on clan and sectarian lines or do they opt for the values of a participatory-democracy that prioritizes the people’s needs which Abdirahman ‘Irro’ offers?