Somaliland: Constitutional Court to Arbitrate Election Dates Dispute

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L R Somaliland political party leaders Abdirahman Irro -Wadani, Muse Behi Kulmiye and Feisal Ali Warabe UCID press briefing outside the constitutional court in Hargeisa

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – I hereby request the Constitutional court to provide legal interpretations related to articles 3&4 as pertains the inter-parties agreement and section B Article 5 of the Guurti decision both of which proposed different dates for holding presidential and parliamentary elections

Thus read a letter of legal interpretation submitted to the Somaliland constitutional court by President Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo who justified this move as one emanating from a strong desire to conclude once for all the now prolonged political wrangles revolving around postponed presidential and parliamentary election dates.

In its third day of hearings a three judge bench at the constitutional court has so far listened to arguments presented by the three national political parties of UCID and Wadani (opposition) and ruling Kulmiye as well as from Civil Society organizations.

The hearings geared towards a legal solution to the dispute emanating from the decision by Guurti to extend the tenure of the president and parliament’s House of Representatives are as a result of a submission for legal interpretation forwarded by the executive.

Chief Justuce Ali AdenGuurti the upper chamber of parliament extended the tenure of sitting presidential and members of the House of Representatives for 22 months that is until April 2017 after expiry of mandate on the 26th June 2015 thus starting a political uproar unprecendented .

The extension for both the executive and legislator was in itself occasioned by announcement by the national Election commission-NEC that it cannot undertake polls that were slated for the 26th June 2015 due to delays in the registration of voters as well as pending legal issues.

As mandated by the constitution Guurti elders upon deliberations thus extend the term said terms to April 2017 with elections to be undertaken on the 27th of that month thence the dispute pitting on divergent directions the opposition parties , the government and ruling party and the Guurti.

The disagreement that has seen the president approach the constitutional court has the opposition parties argue that Guurti does not have the mandate to allocate election dates while elders of parliament’s upper chamber say that their decision is irrevocable contrary to expectations that the agreements reached by the political parties and government shall be considered.

Though NEC had stated that it can only hold the elections not later than June 2016 and an inter-parties agreement facilitated by the state and chaired by Vice president Abdirahman Abdilahi Sayli came up with December 2016 dates, of which both were ignored by Guurti that slated the polls for April 2017 proposed dates justifying it as a constitutional mandate to do so, the president in a bid to simmer down the dispute that refuses to go and has polarized the country sought the legal interpretation of the constitutional court

L R President Silanyo Parlianment Speaker Abdirahman Irro and Guurti chair Suleiman Aden during a past meeting at the presidency in hargeisa

In his submission to the country’s highest court the head wants legal interpretations on the way forward as stated by his letter of which the  subject is “Request for Interpretation”, addressed to the Constitutional Court and copied to NEC, Three national political parties, and both chambers of parliament namely Guurti and House of Representatives respectively the head of state wants the court to

Quote –. I hereby request the Constitutional court to provide legal interpretations related to articles 3&4 as pertains the inter-parties agreement and section B Article 5 of the Guurti decision both of which proposed different dates for holding presidential and parliamentary elections

While urging the honourable courts’ fair arbitration guided by its interpretation of law President Silanyo further stated that the conclusion of the dispute is not only urgent but of utmost impetrative as per the importance of holding elections.

President Silanyo states that the different dates proposed by political parties and Guurti are behind the wrangles thus wants the court to decide which of the two dates he as he head of state should enact since both sides claim legal rights.

Thus on the 12th Aug 2015 the three Court Bench chaired by Chief Justice Ali Haji Ali supported by two justices’ listened to the pro- inter-parties agreement as presented by the leaders of Kulmiye, UCID a and Wadani namely Musa Behi Abdi, Feisal Ali Warabe and Abdirahman Mohamed Irro respectively.

Following the hours long hearing the three leaders who held a press briefing outside the court’s chambers in Hargeisa informed that they had full confidence with the decision following deliberations by the bench.

Will now abroad Guurti Chair Suleiman who has remained admant to any compromise accede to the court's decision if it goes against him

On the 14th local Civil Society organizations had their say presented by main Umbrella the Somaliland Non state actors Forum-Sonsaf listened and Friday being a holiday in the country Saturday had the Guurti slated for its submission.

As the hearings proceed the entire populace has fingers crossed for a successful conclusion of the dispute by the constitutional court that has gained local trust in the recent past especially after its decision that rejected a government ban on opposition parties’ assemblies.

Copyright: Somalilandsun, 2015.

www.somalilandsun.com

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