Muse Bihi's Kulmiye loses Somaliland's polls as women miss out parliamentary seats
HARGEISA - Abdirahman Irro, the chairman of the Waddani party, who is also aiming a stab at presidential polls in 2022, pulled a major shock in recently concluded Somaliland elections after his party managed to leapfrog the ruling Kulmiye party.
More than 1 million people got a chance to cast vote in their first-ever direct elections within the secessionist state in northern Somalia, whose democratic tenets have not received accolades from members of the International Community.
But it's the final outcome that could elicit a sharp debate especially on the safety of President Muse Bihi Abdi, whose Kulmiye party struggled to hold the grip of the 82-member parliament, which is critical for shaping government policies and streamlining budgets.
Waddani party won with big margins in Awadal, Togdher, and Sanaag regions to set clear margin but the ruling Kulmiye party managed to register victories at Sool, Sahil, and Maroodijeex, although the final results couldn't favour them in their grip of the parliament.
Overall, the Waddani party scooped 31 seats in parliament while Kulmiye managed 30 seats. However, the phenomenal performance of the UCID party, another opposition outfit that managed 21 seats, is a major blow to Kulmiye, which will now lose the speaker's seat among other parliamentary leadership seats.
Several observers from Africa, including the former president of Sierra Leone, gave the polls a clean bill of health, arguing that the outcome shows that Somaliland is ready to change fortunes in the Horn of Africa. The region is still fighting for international recognition despite running a parallel government from that of Mogadishu.
Zero women in the house
But of more worrying is the fact that no woman was elected to serve in parliament despite the fact that there were a number of them among the 246 candidates who were running for parliamentary seats. None of them managed to beat men in the 82 constituencies.
Somaliland just like Somalia is a patriarchal society and there have been calls to have affirmative actions for the sake of promoting women's leadership. But encouragingly, three women managed to be elected in civic polls of the 212 that were up for grabs.
"Bittersweet Somaliland elected young and incredible councilors and MPs including Barkhad Batuun the minority candidate for house of representatives got the most votes in Somaliland history for MP, we broke one chain of injustice, but have one more to go, zero women representatives," noted Ayan Mohamoud, former Somaliland representative to the UK.