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Constitutional Developments

SOMALILAND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENTS: An Overview of main constitutional documents/events

1.  Protection Agreements between the United Kingdom and various Somaliland Clans leading to the Somaliland Protectorate.

2.  Constitutional developments in Somaliland (1946 to 1960) and the London Somaliland Protectorate Constitutional Conference May 1960.

3. The first Constitution of the independent State of Somaliland 1960.

4. Constitutional documents relating to the union of Somaliland and Somalia:

5. The Re-assertion of the Somaliland Sovereignty on 19 May 1991 at Burao Grand Conference of the Somaliland Communities. Formation of  a Somaliland Government headed by a President & Vice-President. For extracts (in Somali) of the SNM Central Committee Chairman and SNM Chairman on 19 May 1991 confirming the Resolution declaring the re-assertion of Somaliland’s independence,  click here.

6. The Somaliland National Charter 1993 adopted at the Borama Grand Conference of the Somaliland Communities. Election of President and Vice-President by the constituent assembly.

7. Extension of the period of the National Charter and the term of office of the President 1995.

8. The Somaliland Interim Constitution 1997 (Somali version and avialable also in an  English Translation)  adopted at the Hargeisa Grand Conference of the Somaliland Communities.

9. Extension of the period of the Interim Constitution.

9A. Amendments to the 1997 Constitution:

10. The national Referendum on the Constitution of the Somaliland Republic held on 31 May 2001.  See the independent IRI report.

11. The formation and registration of political parties and the competition among the parties for the coveted award of becoming one of the three parties allowed under Article 9(2) of the Constitution through the popular vote in the first nation-wide (local) elections in Somaliland since 1969.

12.  The nation-wide Somaliland local district elections held in December 2002.

13. Extensions of the Term of office of the President for one year in 2001 and again for for a shorter period in 2003.

14. Transfer of office of President to Vice-President Rayale Kahin on the death of President Mohammad Haji Ibrahim Egal on 

15. Election of President through national poll- May 2003.

16. Extensions of the Term of Office of the House of Representatives for:

17. Extension of the Term of office of the House of Elders 2003 and again in  2005.  For a discussion of the constitutional questions raised by  the extensions of term of the Houses of Elders, in particular, see the following article written in 2003.

18. Election of the House of Representatives through a national poll - 29 September 2005.

19. Extension of the Term of office of the House of Elders for a further four years from October 2005 by a vote of the House of Elders on Sunday, 6th May 2006. The Elders received a proposal from the President and an ex parte advisory opinion of the Supreme Court. The decision has proved to be extremely controversial and the House of Representatives and civil groups have declared it unconstitutional. The Representatives who were already considering the House of Elders Election Bill have continued debating it and intend to pass the bill on the return from the summer recess in September 2006.  For an example of the issues raised in this constitutional controversy, see the position paper by the Somaliland Forum: A term extrension too far May 2006

20. Extension of the term of office of the District Councils: There are no constitutional or legal provisions which give the House of Elders power to extend the term of office of local councils (or for that matter their own term of office), but the House assumed such a power, at the request of the President, and on 12 December 2007 passed a motion (on a vote of 47 for, 1 against and 2 abstaining) to extend the term of office of the District authorities which was due to expire in December 2007 to 1 July 2008, so as to bring it in line with the terms of the SNEC/political parties accord. No similar proposal was put to the House in connection with the delayed presidential election - the House has the power under Article 83(5) of the Constitution to extend the term of office of the President & Vice President but only in exceptional circumstances where the election cannot be “because of security considerations”. This has raised concerns that a longer extension of the presidential term of office may be in the offing!

It has been my consistent view that all these (and the past) extensions of the terms of office necessitated by failures to arrange the elections on time should be dealt with by either constitutional amendments or, where appropriate, as in local councils, by amendments to the relevant laws. Both of these options involve decision making on the part of the President and BOTH Houses and not just the President and the House of Elders only (Editor)

21. House of Elders’ Controversial Extension of Presidential Term of Office: On 10 April 2008, the House considered proposals submitted to them by the President and decided (on a vote of 63 for, 1 against and 3 abstaining) to extend the term of office of the President, which is due to expire on 15 May 2008, by one year to 6 May 2009. The House relied on Article 83(5) of the Constitution which allows a term extension ONLY if the election cannot be held because of security considerations. Here is a copy of the House resolution.



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