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Somaliland Political Parties





(As amended)

LAW NO 14/2000

(Click here for the Somali version)

 Translated and annotated by Ibrahim Hashi Jama LL.B, LL.M

(Click here for an article explaining this Law)


 HAVING SEEN:   Articles 9, 22 and 23[1] of the Constitution of the nation;

 HAVING NOTED:  The proposals of the Internal Affairs Sub-Committee (of the House), the contributions of the members of the House of Representatives and the House of Elders in the debates relating to this Law;

 HAVING CONSIDERED:  the need for moving from a (political) system based on representation through the various communities to one based on political parties and free elections;


Article 1: Definitions

 1.  COMMITTEE: means the Committee for the Registration of  Political Associations and the Approval of Parties.

2.   REGION/DISTRICT: means the legally recognised regions/districts  of the Republic of Somaliland.

3.   THE LEGALLY RECOGNISED COUNCILS: means the Constitutional councils of the Republic of Somaliland, which are:

-        The House of Elders.

-        The House of Representatives.

-        The Council of Ministers[2].

4.   ASSOCIATION/ASSOCIATIONS: means a unit of politically organised section of the society which has been registered for participating in the local government elections prior to its recognition as  a political party.

5.   PARTY/PARTIES: means party/parties which have been approved for participation in the general elections of the Parliament and those of the President and the Vice-president.

6.   FOREIGNER: means any person who is not a patrial[3] of the Republic of Somaliland. 

7.    PUBLIC MEDIA: means radios, newspapers, cinemas, public assembly places and other information dissemination tools which are managed by the state.

8.    PUBLIC ASSETS: means the movable or immovable assets of whatever form, which are owned by the state.

9.    APPLICATION FORM: means the special form issued by the Committee, which sets out the information and particulars required of associations which apply for registration.

10.  NATIONAL ELECTION: means the general election which will be contested by the three (3) national parties[4]

 Article 2: The Committee for the Registration of  Political Associations and the Approval of Parties

 The Republic of Somaliland shall have a general committee which is independent and which will have the responsibility for registering associations and approving political parties.

1.  The Committee shall consist of 7 (seven)[5] members.  At least two of the members shall be lawyers.

a)  They shall have a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and a Secretary[6].

b)  The Committee (members) shall be chosen along the following conditions[7]:

    1.   He must be a Muslim and must behave in accordance with the Islamic religion.

    2.   He must be a citizen who is not younger than 40 years.

    3.   He must be physically and mentally able to fulfil his duties.

    4.   He must be educated to, at least, secondary school level.

    5.   He must not have been subject of a final sentence for a criminal offence by a court within the preceding five years.

    6.   He must be a responsible person with good character and behaviour, and be known for his neutrality.

    7.   He must have, at least, 10 years experience of work and management.

    8.   He must have been resident in the country of the Republic of Somaliland during the preceding three years.

    9.   As for the two lawyer members, they shall, in addition, fulfil the conditions for selection of judges of the Supreme Court[8].

c)   They shall have agents in the regions and districts of the country.

d)   The Committee shall continue in office for a period of six months after their approval of the three parties which have succeeded in the nation-wide elections[9].

2.   The President of the Republic of Somaliland shall nominate the Committee for the approval of political parties, and the nomination shall be approved[10] by the House of Representatives on a simple majority vote[11]

3.   The Committee shall receive emoluments which shall be set out in a special law.

4.   The Chairman of the Supreme Court shall administer the following oath to the Committee (members) within seven[12] days after the day when the House of Representatives approves of their nomination: “I SWEAR BY ALLAH THAT I AM NOT A MEMBER OF A POLITICAL UNIT, ASSOCIATION OR PARTY, AND WILL NOT BE A MEMBER OF ANY (SUCH) ASSOCIATION OR PARTY WHILST IN OFFICE; AND SHALL WORK FOR THE SOMALILAND SOCIETY WITH JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND HONESTY”.

 Article 3: Receipt of Applications for Registration

 1.   The Committee shall announce through the media of the country the period for receipt of applications for registration of political associations, the closing date for such applications and the addresses at the headquarters of the regions/districts of the country to which the applications should be submitted.  The period for receipt of applications shall be two months beginning from the day when the announcement[13] has been made. [The period for receipt of applications for registration shall be re-opened[14] again for two months beginning from the date the Committee issues a notice[15] to this effect].

2.   Any association seeking registration as a political association shall submit an application, in the prescribed form, to the Committee and shall enclose the following particulars and documents:

    a)   The date when and the place where the association held its first founders’ meeting.

    b)   The list of the names of the founders of the association (the executive committee[16]) and the methods of election of the officers.

    c)    The structure of the Association showing the full name of the Association, its written abbreviation, symbol and acronym.

    d)    Proof of full payment of the non-refundable deposit of Sl.Sh. 5,000,000 (five million).

 Article 4: Provisional Political Parties

 1.   On expiry of the period of submission of applications for registration of associations, the Committee shall confirm the associations which fulfil the necessary conditions[17], and shall grant them a provisional approval[18] which will enable them to operate.

2.    The period in which the associations can so operate shall be three (3) months beginning from the date when the provisional approval has been granted.

3.    Every association/party shall submit, within the period set out in clause 2 of this Article, the following documents and particulars:

    a)     The holding of the general meeting of the association or party, the date when and the place where it was  held, and the main issues dealt with.

    b)     Proof that the association has functioning branches and that it has registered at least 500 (five hundred) members in every region[19].

4.    The Committee shall issue to every association/party which is granted provisional approval enabling it to operate, a copy of this Political Parties Law so that the Law can form the basis of its rules.

5.    The rules of every political association/party shall show clearly adherence to (the principles of) democracy, power-sharing and decision-making from the bottom and not from the top.

6.    Every association(party) shall submit to the committee 10 printed copies of its rules and the details of its addresses in all the regions and districts of the country.

7.     The rules of every association/party shall conform to the provisions of the Constitution and the other laws of the Republic of Somaliland.

8.     A patrial of Somaliland may become a member of any association/party.

9.     A political association which has been granted approval as a party[20] shall not amalgamate with another party prior to the election[21].  In the same way, the rules of any such party shall make it clear that no member or members of the party who have been elected to the legally recognised Councils[22] may be expelled from the party, and that these elected members shall not join any other party.

10.    The programme of every party shall address clearly the following issues:

    a)     The maintenance of the peace, harmony and the public order of the country.

    b)     The advancement of education and religion.

    c)      The promotion of health and welfare.

    d)     The care and protection of the environment.

    e)     The development and utilisation of the natural resources of the land.

    f)       The promotion of knowledge and technology.

11.    The three associations which gain in the local election 20% of all the votes cast in every region shall be recognised as a national political party, and shall be issued with a certificate of recognition as a national party.

12.    If only one association succeeds in gaining 20% of the votes in every region, the Committee shall recognise as political parties that party and the other two associations which come next in the number of votes cast for them in every region.

13.    If no political association gains 20% (of the votes), the Committee shall recognise as political parties the three associations which have gained the highest number of votes cast in the elections in the regions of the country.

14.     If the number of votes cast for two or more associations are equal, the election shall be staged again[23] at a time set by the Government[24].

 Article 5: Matters which Associations/Parties Are Forbidden to Undertake

 1.    No party/association shall pass false or inaccurate information to the Committee.

2.     No rules of the parties shall include a provision or provisions which are contrary to the Constitution  or Islamic Sharia.

3.     No association/party shall receive financial support from foreign sources, which it can use for its functions or political activities.

4.     No association/party shall use or utilise for its own electoral activities the Somaliland public[25] resources.

5.     No association/party shall use armed[26] groups or forces for the furtherance of its own interests.

 Article 6: The Rights of Political Parties

 The political parties which have been issued with a certificate as a party shall have the right to:

    a)     have access to the national public media in an equitable manner, and, having obtained the approval of the appropriate agencies, to own their own special information services;

    b)      express freely their political opinions, without damaging the public order and overall peace of the Republic;

    c)      be free from suppression or closure, and have the right to own their private property;

    d)      put forward critical comments or to criticise other political parties or the Government;

    e)      submit, in writing, to the relevant Regional Court any complaints or grievances they may have about the work of the Committee;

    f)       appeal to the Constitutional Court[27], which shall review the issue, if they are dissatisfied with the decision issued by the Regional Court.  

 Article 7: The Candidates Standing for Elections

 1.    Any citizen of Somaliland shall have both the right to stand for election and to vote, but only the following can be candidates for elections:

a)     A Somaliland citizen  who has been nominated for election by a party and who has fulfilled the conditions set out by law.

b)     No independent person who has not been endorsed in the name of (an approved) party shall stand as a candidate.

2.      The Regional Committee of every party shall nominate the candidates at the district level.






NOTE: This Law was passed by the House of Representatives on 19/6/2000 (Resolution No: GW/KF-11/133/2000) and the House of Elders on 8/7/200 (Resolution No: GG/jsl/KAL-11/G10217/2000); and the President signed it (Presidential Decree No:26 of 2000) on 6/8/200. It came into force on the latter date.

© Ibrahim Hashi Jama 2002

[1] Article 9 relates to the political system,  Article 22 to political, social and electoral rights and Article 23 to freedom of movement and association.

[2] See Articles 81 and 94 of the Constitution for the composition of the Council of  Ministers.

[3] See Article 4 of the Constitution and the Somaliland Citizenship Law

[4] Under Article 9 of the Constitution, the number of political parties shall not exceed three.

[5] On 12 February 2001, The House of Representatives agreed to a Government request to increase the number of members to nine (9), which was apparently the number proposed earlier in the Bill.

[6] On 20th February 2001, the Committee elected at its first meeting Lawyer Mohamad Jama Bodle (Guun) as Chairman, Adan Gedi Qayad as Deputy Chairman and Suleiman Ali Yusuf Ali (Kore) as Secretary.

[7] Except for the age, conditions numbered 1 to 6 are similar to those for members of the House of Representatives (see Article 41 of the Constitution), and indeed the Political Parties Bill previously stated that the eligibility criteria of the Committee members was the same as that for members of the House.   

[8] These are set out in Article 105(2) of the Constitution and are essentially possession of a recognise law degree and professional legal experience of not less than 10 years.

[9] See Articles 4(11) to 4(13) below, but clearly if the circumstances described in Article 4(14) arise and the election has to be held again, the Committee’s term of office will continue.

[10] On 10th February 2001, the House approved the nomination of six members, and two days later, approved the seventh appointment, and agreed to increase the number of members to nine.

[11] In contrast, the permanent Election Commission members are nominated by not only the President, but also by  the opposition associations and the House of Elders, and their nomination is approved by the House of Representatives on the basis of an absolute majority. (see Article 11 of the Presidential and Local Council Elections Law – Law N0:20/2001)..

[12] It is not clear from this clause whether the oath should be administered within seven days or on the seventh day, but, from the context, I have chosen the former interpretation.

[13] In July 2001,  the Committee announced that all associations wanting to be registered must submit their applications during the two month period starting 21st July 2001 and ending 21st September 2001.

[14] As the elections could not be held before the expiry of the term of office of the current President (and Government), the House of Elders, on 12th January 2002, resolved  that the term of office of the President be extended by one year and that, among other things, the registration of association/parties be opened again for a period not exceeding  two weeks (Resolution 3 of January 2002 in  the 16th session of the House). But On 18th February 2002, the House of Representatives resolved that the period of registration shall be re-opened for two months, and finally this amendment was signed into law by the President on 11 March 2002.

[15] The Committee issued a notice on 18th March 2002 that registration will be re-opened for a period of two months starting 18th March 2002 and ending 18th May 2002.

[16] As it is likely that the founders and elected Executive Committee may be different from each other, this clause may be interpreted as requiring both sets of names.

[17] These are set out in the preceding Article 3(2).

[18] On 25th September 2001, the Committee announced that seven associations have been granted provisional approval for a period of three months starting from 25th September 2001. These associations were  UDUB (United Democratic Nation- the party set up by the President of the Republic); UCID – Justice & Welfare Party; SAHAN- Somalialnd Alliance for Islamic Democracy; BIRSOL – Salvation & Protection of Somaliland’s Aspirations; HORMOOD – Champions for Peace & Prosperity; UMAD – Unification of Somaliland’s Viewpoints; ILAYSKA – Somaliland Beacon Light Party. (The translation of the nameswas in the English Language Weekly, The Republican, of 22/9/2002). These seven associations were the ones that registered within the two month registration period. On 18 March 2002, the Committee announced that of the seven registered associations, five have fulfilled all the conditions for provisional registration, and, subject to them breaking the Law, they can participate in the nation-wide local elections.  The remaining two, UMAD and ILEYSKA were asked to take advantage of the re-opening of the register and to work on fulfilling all the conditions.

[19] Somaliland has six regions – Awdal, Hargeisa (previously known as North West), Sahil, Togdher, Sanag and Sool.

[20] This clause is by no means clear. If it refers to the grant of provisional approval, then the bar on amalgamation of parties lasts only until the first nation-wide local elections.

[21] Again, it is not clear to which election this refers, and as the phrase “general election” which is defined in Article 1 of the Law has not been used in this clause, it suggests that the election referred to here may be the first nation-wide local elections.  Presumably the Committee will publicise its interpretation of this clause and ultimately the Supreme Court may have to decide on any challenges. One of the earlier versions of the Political Parties Bill included in this clause the phrase “after the election”, rather than “prior to the election”.   This would have been more in line with the following part of this clause which bans members elected to office from joining other parties after the election. As it is now, there could be a party joining another after the election, but the members of that party who had been elected to office can not follow their party, presumably  until their term of office expires and they have to stand again for re-election through the new amalgamated party.  It has been my criticism of this Law that with amalgamations after the elections, Somaliland may end with an overweening single party, and as the Law does not make any provision at all for the formation and registration of new parties, a new Law and procedures have to be set in place to allow the creation of other parties up to the limit of three allowed by the Constitution. By then a new method of choosing between the new aspiring associations would have to be worked out. 

[22] See Article 1 for the definition of “legally recognised councils” – these are the two Houses of Parliament and the Council of Ministers.  It is not clear why instead of local councils, the last one - the Council of Ministers - which is not an elected body is included. Under Article 90 and 94 of the Constitution, the President appoints and dismisses ministers.  In contrast members of district authorities will be elected (see the Presidential & Local Councils Law Elections Law – Law No: 20/2001)

[23] This clause is subject to the preceding clauses. In the earlier version of the Bill, such a tie was to be settled by drawing lots in the presence of the Chairman of the Supreme Court. Now,  costly second round elections will have to be called simply to decide which of the associations can become the three parties allowed under the Constitution.

[24] This has to be read in the conjunction with Article 14(1) of the Presidential and Local Government Elections Law of 2001 which gives the independent Elections Commission the power to set the date of elections and to inform the President so that he can issue the appropriate Decree.

[25] I have chosen the word “public” rather than “national”, which is nearer to the Somali phrase used in this clause, to signify that this includes resources owned by both the national and local government.

[26] Article 23(4) of the (Revised) Constitution outlaws associations which are military in nature or are armed. The formation of armed groups is also dealt with by the  Penal Code.

[27] This the Supreme Court. The appeal will leapfrog the Regional Appeal Courts.

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