Somaliland Electoral Laws & Codes
(See also this linked sub-pages: Voter Registration Law ; Somaliland Political Parties Laws; National Electoral Commission; Presidential & Local Elections Law; House of Representatives’ Election Law; and House of Elders’ S/election Bills )
01/04/2017: The Presidential & Local Councils (Consolidation and Amendments) Law has now been published in Supplement 1 of the Somaliland Official Gazette (April) dated 01 April 2017 as a Consolidated Law (in Somali). This very welcome official consolidation replaces both the official 6th Schedule Amendments Law gazetted on 4 February 2017, as well as our own recent unofficial consolidated Text of this Law (see below). We have also prepared a smaller file version of the Gazetted Consolidation & Amendments Law - Xeerka (Iskudhafka & Waxka Bedelka) Doorashooyinka Madaxtooyada iyo Golayaashaha Deegaanka (Lr. 20 20/2001 ee 2017) which runs to 36 A4 pages.
Note: We shall be producing an UNOFFICIAL English language translation of this 2017 Official Consolidation & Amendments Law - initially as the bare law on its own and, later, time permitting, as an annotated version for reference: Editor.
28/02/2017: The sixth (6th) Amendments Schedule to the Presidential and Local Election Law (Law No. 20/2001) as gazetted on 04/02/2017 in Somali - Xeerka Doorashooyinka 2001 WKB & Kaabista Lifaaqa 6aad (2017). As this new 6th Amendments Schedule sets out only the latest Amendments of the Law, (albeit the most extensive of all the schedules), we have prepared an Unofficial Consolidation of all changes and re-arrangements made together with provisions unaffected by the changes in one text in Somali- Xeerka Doorashooyinka M/tooyadda & G/Deeganka iyo WKBkiisi ilaa Lif. 6aad oo Isku Dhafan (oo aan Rasmi ahyan) Xeer Lr 20/2001 - Consolidated Unofficial Text (in Somali) 2017 which replace the last 2012 Unofficial Consolidation (see below). 01/04/2017: PLEASE SEE NOW ABOVE THE OFFICIAL CONSOLIDATED TEXT OF THIS LAW WHICH HAS NOW BEEN GAZETTED AND WHICH SUPERSEDES THIS EARLIER UNOFFICIAL CONSOLIDATION
Coming soon: The new Presidential and Local Elections (Consolidation and Amendments) Law recently passed by both Houses of Parliament and awaiting Presidential approval. [see above]
Also our new historical compilation of Somaliland’s first electoral legislation titled “Somaliland’s Earlier Electoral Laws 1958-68” Booklet (coming soon).
08/03/2016: Somaliland Voters’ Registration Law and Regulations ( as at March 2016): A Booklet compilation of the Somali and translated ( English) texts and annotations (170 pages - pdf 2m )
(For more information about Somaliland Voter Registration Laws - see this separate page)
14/01/2015 Civil Society Position Paper on Issues of Voter Registration and the Electoral Systems (SONSAF): Recommendations on the Voter Registration and on the Presidential and HoR elections.
21 September 2014: Short notes, below, on the Somaliland Electoral laws before 1969.
12 June 2013: Steve Kibble and Michael Walls, Swerves on the Road- Report by International Election Observers on the 2012 local elections in Somaliland, Progressio, June 2013: .”. while the election in all its phases was free, … ‘equal opportunity cheating’, or to use more prosaic language, widespread multiple voting, prevents us from declaring the election ‘fair’”
02 May 2013: Somalilanders Speak - Lessons from the November 2012 - Report by Makokha J and Yusuf A (Safeworld April 2013)
13 January 2013: Tables - NEC Regional results and the Article 6 determination of the three new parties announced by the RAC on 26 December 2012
13 January 2013: December 21st 2012 - Somaliland local elections: International Election Observers applaud commitment to democracy, but say action is required to ensure future election integrity.
03 December 2012: International Observers’ Statement on the Somaliland Local Elections
29 November 2012: International Observers Initial Comments on the Somaliland Local Elections held on 28 November 2012
18 September 2012: Somalilandlaw.com [English] Consolidation of the 2001 Presidential & Local Elections Law and All its 5 Amendments, together with footnotes identifying the amendments and linking also other relevant constitutional and legal provisions is now available at this link: 2001 (Consolidated) Election Law .
15 September 2012: Seven Political parties/associations and the NEC signed the 2012 Electoral Code of Conduct (in Somali) on 13 September. The other two UDIB and Nasiye are not taking part in the elections and have decided not submit the candidates lists which were due for submission on 14 September 2012.
05 September 2012: With the passing of two more Amendments Schedules in July and August 2012, The 2001 Presidential and Local Elections Law has now been amended five times since 2009 in the form of 5 different Amendment Schedules. Copies of the Law as originally passed and a separate copy of each of the amendments is available at this page which also has an html copy of the consolidated law. However, as the polling date of 28 November 2012 approaches and with no official consolidation of the Law and all its amendments, I have prepared an unofficial Consolidation of the Law and all it amendments which is available below. It will very difficult for laymen and lawyers alike to glean quickly from the original law and the 5 schedules what the current position is in respect of article. The amendments affected 37 of the 66 Articles (57% of the Law) and some of the latter schedules amended the previous amendments. This consolidation lists at the end all the articles affected by each schedule.
Somalilandlaw.com Consolidation of the 2001 Election Law and ALL its five Amendments Schedules: SOMALI (pdf) or (html) ENGLISH (pdf) (18/09/2012)
05 September 2012: Preparing for Local Elections in Somaliland - Plans, Challenges and Progress, Report by Steve Kibble and Michael Walls, Progressio August 2012.
18 August 2012: On 12 August 2012, the National Electoral Commission announced that the long delayed nation-wide elections shall be held on WEDNESDAY, 28 NOVEMBER 2012. As set out in Article 8 of the 2001 Election Law, the NEC’s declaration of the polling date was published, on 16 August 2012, in a Presidential Decree (No. 082012).
12 August 2012: Fifth Amendments Schedule to the 2001 Election Law as passed by both Houses of Parliament. The Schedule was signed by the President on 18 August 2012 - copy of the signed Fifth Amendments Schedule to the 2001 Election Law. [05 Sep 2012: NOTE: COPIES OF ALL THE 5 AMENDMENTS SCHEDULES ARE NOW AVAILABLE AS ORIGINALLY SIGNED INTO LAW AT THIS 200l ELECTION LAW PAGE.]
05 August 2012: Fourth Amendments Schedule to the 2001 Election Presidential Election Law Signed into Law by President on 25 July 2012, but the House (which is currently in recess) has been asked to re-convene for an extra-ordinary session on 7 August 2012 to reconsider the fourth schedule Amendments and specifically on the design of the ballot paper of the PR open list system. The Electoral Commission has repeatedly advised that using symbols for every candidate (and not numbers) will make the ballot paper unwieldy and costly in elections which will, for example, in the Hargeisa 25 seats local council contested by 9 parties/political associations, involve 225 candidates names in one ballot paper out of which each voter must only choose one candidate.
- Copy of the 4th Schedule amendments to the 2001 Election as signed by the President on 25 July 2012 in Somali - Lifaaqa 4aad Wax ka Bedelka Xeerka Doorashooyinka Lr 20/2001 (large pdf file). [Page 5 of the Schedule was subsequently corrected in the Official Gazette - specifically wording of the Article 22 relating to the symbols for candidates. The amended page is in the pdf copy above)
In re-considering the 4th schedule amendments on 7 August 2012, Somalilandlaw.com urges the House to take this opportunity to add to the new Schedule 5 amendments the provisions relating to the reserved seats for women and excluded Groups and our suggested draft schedule 5 amendments (see below).
Reserved Seats for Women and Excluded Minority Groups Bill July 2012:
“The Reserved Seats Bill 2012 currently at the House of Representatives provides the Somaliland Parliament another opportunity to pass legislation which will help women and members of minority groups excluded on the basis of birth or descent (EMGs) exercise their rights to stand for elections. The proposed modest number of reserved seats is aimed at realising, in a small measure, the equality rights in the Somaliland Constitution and is no way contrary to any of the provisions of the Constitution. To borrow the words of former US President Johnson, we have talked too long about equal rights and ‘it is time now to write the next chapter and to write it in the books of law’.” - Editor in comments on the Bill. 21 July 2012
21 July 2012: House of Representatives Internal Affairs Committee Bill on Reserved Seats for Women & Excluded Minority Groups: House Bill (in Somali). (Somaliland comments on the bill - English)
- Somalilandlaw.com recommends that the Reserved Seats for the local district authorities are the immediate priority now and suggests the adoption of the attached bill amending the 2001 Election Law (law no. 20/2001): Draft Annexe 5 Amendments of the 2001 Law (in Somali) (Wax ka Bedelka Xeerka Lr 20/2001 - Lifaaqa 5aad).
- Somalilandlaw commentary on the House Reserved Seats Bill (in English) and copies of the Draft Annexe 5 Amendments, as well as the House Bill in one document - Comments and Bills on Reserved Seats.
May 2012: SONSAF Survey & Report on the forthcoming 2012 local elections
January 2012: Somalilandlaw.com Consolidation of all the Amendments to the 2001 Presidential & Local Elections Law including all the consequential amendments arising out of the December 2011 changes. The Text (and the introduction) is in Somali - an English language version will be available as soon as it is clear that there will be no further changes. (Please see the above more up to date August 2012 Consolidation of the Law and all its 5 Amendments Schedules)
2011 (November): (SONSAF) Somaliland Elections Review Report - “The aim of this review is to evaluate the performance of the multi-party elections held in Somaliland in the last ten years. It focuses on assessing the compliance of Somaliland’s electoral processes and practice with international and regional standards governing the conduct of elections.” The Report adds that the review was undertaken by local consultants with guidance and regular input from the Somaliland Non State Actors (SONSAF) Democratization Group” .
22 December 2011: The 2001 Presidential & Local Elections Law (Amendments Addendum No. 3) 2011 has be signed into Law by the President on 13 December 2011. The Presidential Decree (No. 0182/122011) dated 13 December 2011 sets out in full the two provisions of the amendment law as follows:
- Article 22 of the Law has been replaced by a new Article 22 which introduces open lists rather the closed lists used previously.
- Article 33(4) has been amended so that the 35 year age limit for local district council candidacy has been lowered to 25 years.
22 December 2011: The 2007 Voter Registration Law (Amendments Addendum No. 3) 2011 has be signed into Law by the President on 13 December 2011. The Presidential Decree (No. 01810/122011) dated 13 December 2011 sets out in full the short amendment law makes the following five provisions:
- The voter registration held in 2008 has been voided.
- The following District Councils elections only shall be held without a voters’ register.
- A new voter registration shall be undertaken prior to the next elections of the House of Representatives and the presidential elections, which will both be based on the new voters’ register.
- The amending article in the Election Law No. 20/2001 (relating to the voter registration) is repealed.
- Any provisions contrary to the above (four) clauses are repealed.
Somaliland Presidential Election June 2010 Reports:
ELECTORAL LAWS UPDATES: (May 2010)
Somalilandlaw.com Text Consolidation of the 2001 Presidential & Local Elections Law and its 2009 & 2010 Amendments: [Somali] [English]
- Second Amendments to the Presidential and Local Election Law (2001) as passed by the House of Representatives on 11 May 2010 and by the Elders and signed by the President - (Somali)
- Presidential Election Code of Conduct April 2010 - [English] [Somali]
- Somaliland Electoral Matters: Media Code of Conduct 2010 - [English] [Somali]
- First Amendments to the Presidential and Local Election Law (2001) as passed by both Houses of Parliament in July 2009 - (Somali)
- Voter Registration Code of Conduct February 2009 [English]
- Memorandum of Understanding 30 September 2009 (English): The six point Accord made by the Somaliland political parties on the conduct of the election.
SOMALILAND ELECTORAL LAWS - a Handbook in English & Somali - by Ibrahim Hashi Jama, editor, Somalilandlaw.com
Download FREE HERE. (large pdf file)
The main Somaliland electoral laws were (As at 2008)
- The Presidential & Local Elections Law (Law No: 20/2001) which deals with the direct elections of the President and the Vice –President of the Republic every five years, as well as the election every five years of all the local district councils. The last presidential election was held in 2003 and the last local council elections in 2002. (See also the 2007 Amendment Bill, which has since been rejected by the House of Elders ). NOTE: The 2001 Law has been amended in 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 - see at this page for a copy of the consolidated law with all the amendments.
- The House of Representatives Election Law (Law No: 20-2/2005) which deals with the direct election of 82 members of the House of Representatives. The last election was held in September 2005.
- House of Elders S/election Bills:Various versions of Bills relating to the indirect or direct elections of the members of the House of Elders Bill were considered by the parliament. The current members of the House were elected indirectly for a six year term at the Grand Conference of the Somaliland communities in 1997 and have had their term extended three times. The last House of Elders Election Bill was passed by the House of Representatives in on 16 September 2006 (on a vote of 34 for and 30 against) and proposed, for the first time, direct elections of the Elders. The two opposition parties supported such direct elections, but many civil groups preferred to keep the traditional element in the House and supported indirect elections. The Elders considered the Bill on 23 September 2006 and rejected it on a vote of 68 votes against (i.e over two thirds of the members) and also on a “point of principle”. This meant that under Article Article 78(5) of the Constitution, the Representatives could return the bill to the Elders ONLY if they could pass it again, this time, by two third’s of their total membership. The opposition parties could not muster such majority and so the bill lapsed. On the the President’s proposal, the Elders then extended their term (without the involvement of the the House) by another 4 years. Their previous two extensions of the Elders’ term was based on by a Resolution of the House of Representatives.
- Electoral Codes of Conduct were drawn up and in discussions and agreements with the Somaliland Electoral Commission and the Academy for Peace and Development, the Somaliland political parties committed themselves to the observance of the Codes. The Codes have assisted in filling in the gaps in the electoral laws and have acted as non-statutory rules of conduct for the political parties during the elections:
- 2002 Code of Conduct for Political Organisations
- 2002 Code of Conduct for political organisations and the Electoral Commission
- 2003 Presidential Election Code of Conduct
- 2005 House of Representatives Code of Conduct for Political Parties
- 2005 Press Code of Conduct During Elections. (Superseded by the 2010 Code - see above)
- 2009 Code of Conduct for Political Parties (Superseded by the 2010 Code - see above)
- Monitoring Committees: In line with Somalilanders reliance on traditional (alternative) dispute resolution procedures Committees of prominent Somalilanders were also set up, sometimes informally, to act as watchdogs. See the following documents relating to the various elections:
Pre 2007 Legal Changes
1. The Somaliland Voter Registration Law 2007 ( Law No:37/2007) and its 2008 amendments - in Somali and an English language translation.
(For the earlier text of the bill see: The Somaliland Voter Registration Bill 2007 (as previously passed by the House of Representatives on 11 March 2007 and the House of Elders on 14 May 2007) This is now Law (July 2007)
2. The New Electoral Commission finally sworn into office on 9 September 2007 - nearly 8 months since the expiry of the term of office of the outgoing Commission on 20 January 2007. See the Electoral Commission page for more details.
3. Somaliland Presidential & Local Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill 2007 - The first Reserved Seats Bill
Text in Somali. (Somalilandlaw.com comments on the Bill and particularly on the Reserved seats provisions ). On 2 December 2007, the House of Elders rejected the whole Bill, on a vote of 62 for the rejection, none against and 3 abstentions. The House of Representatives will be considering the Bill again in their next session which starts in early February 2008. The Bill has now lapsed as the House of Representatives could not muster the two thirds majority required to force the bill through.
4. Postponement of the elections: The Somaliland National Electoral Commission announced on 11 October 2007 an accord agreed upon by all the three parties on 7 October 2007, which stated the following:
1. All voter registration should be completed by 10 June 2008.
2. Elections for local district council which should have taken place in December 2007 shall now be conducted on 1 July 2008.
3. The Elections for the President of Somaliland to be held in April 2008 will be postponed to 31 August 2008.
4. Any issues relating to the above, which arise in the future, shall be resolved through dialogue and consensus.
5. 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)
6. Second Postponement of the Elections: The Somaliland National Electoral Commission announced on 9 April 2008 another accord agreed upon by all the three parties and the SNEC to the effect that in the light of the delay in the voter registration, the:
- The voter registration will be completed by 5th October 2008
- The Local Councils elections will be held on 6th October 2008.
- The Presidential election shall be held on 31 December 2008.
7. 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.
8. On 20 June 2008 the three parties and the NEC reached an agreement postponing the elections to 2009. A copy the agreement in Somali is available here. For an English translation of the Agreement see the Somaliland Academy for Peace website. The presidential elections will now be held, before the local government elections, in March 2009. The NEC agreed with the three parties that the presidential election would be held on 29 March 2009, but no presidential decree confirming this date was issued.
9. On 13 March 2009, at the request of the president, the House of elders resolved to extend the term of office of the President and the Vice-President, again, until 29 October 2009.(Copy of the House Resolution). The President’s request pointed out that the NEC were proposing to hold the election on 31 May 2009, but the Guurti decided that the election should take a place a month before the end of the extended term i.e 29 September 2009. Understandably, the resolution has also been criticised for usurping the powers of the NEC.
10. The NEC did not question the date of the election proposed by the House of Elders, but promptly endorsed it and announced without the agreement of all the parties that the election will now be held on 27 September 2009. This will be the fourth date set by the NEC for this presidential election - the previous dates were 29 August 2008, 29 March 2009 and 31 May 2009 ....
11. For an overview of the Somaliland electoral events up to early November 2009, see this ICG Report - Somaliland - A Way out of the Electoral Crisis December 2009.
There is no general law governing the holding of referendums, but the special referendum on the Constitution was conducted under the Law on the Referendum of the Constitution.
The Somaliland Electoral Commission
The Somaliland elections are overseen by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission whose composition powers and duties are set out in Articles 10 t0 21 of the 2001 Election Law and Articles 63 and 64 of the 2005 Election Law.
Reports of Independent Observers of Somaliland Elections (2002 – 2006): Note the reports also contain the election results. [See above for the elections since 2006]
A: 2001 Referendum on the Somaliland Constitution -
Report of the Initiatives & Referundums Institute 2001 (pdf)
B: 2002 Local Elections –
1. EU Delegation Final Report on the Somaliland Local Elections (pdf)
2. Final Report on the Somaliland Local Elections : EU/GTZ Technical Team (pdf)
2. “Very Much a Somaliland Run Election” - CIIR (pdf)
3. Report of the Domestic Observers - COSONGO (Word file)
C: 2003 Presidential Election –
1. Report of the South African Mission on the Somaliland Presidential Election
2. Somaliland: Presidential Election 2003 – NORDEM Report 08/2003
3. Somaliland Presidential Election Observation Report – NAGAAD & COSONGO
D: 2005 Parliamentary (House of Representatives) Election -
1. Further Steps to Democarcy - Progressio
2. Somaliland Elections to the Lower House, NORDEM REPORT 03/2006 (pdf)
3. International Republican Institute Somaliland Parliamentary Election Assessment Report (pdf)
4. PLACES THAT DO NOT EXIST: Experiences from the parliamentary elections in Somaliland
5. Media & press statements of the South African Observer Mission to Somaliland Parliamentary elections - 25/09/2006 & 30/09/2006
'A Vote for Peace' - How Somaliland successfully hosted its first Parliamentary Elections in 35 years: A report by the Somaliland Academy for Peace & Development - Full Report (pdf)
ELECTORAL LAWS OF THE 1963 -69 SOMALI REPUBLIC
After the union of the independent State of Somaliland and Somalia on 1 July 1960, the only political institutions that were directly elected by the public under the Constitution were the National Assembly - consisting initially of the 90 Somalia Assembly members (elected on 8 March 1959) and the 33 Somaliland Legislature members (elected on 17 February 1960)- and the Local Councils at district level.
The elections of the National Assembly and those of the local councils were only held twice before the Military Coup on 21 October 1969 which marked the end of democratic elections. These were held under the following laws:
Nov 1963 Local Councils elections
Local Administration & Local Councils Elections Law: Law No. 19 of 14 August 1963 – The Annex to the Law covered the Local Council Elections.
March 1964 National Assembly election
Political Elections Law: Law No. 4 of 22 January 1964 – Only Italian version of the Law currently available. Copy of the Index of the Articles of the Law & Annexe in Italian & English Translation
March 1969 National Assembly & Local Councils elections
Political Elections and Local Councils Elections – Law No. 13 of 6 June 1968 (as amended). See above the forthcoming booklet titled Somaliland’s Earlier Electoral Laws 1958-69 (coming soon)
The next democratic elections held anywhere in the territory of the former Somali Republic since March 1969 were the Somaliland nation-wide local councils elections which took place in December 2002. See above for the electoral laws applicable to the Somaliland elections from 2002 to date.
SOMALILAND 1958 -1960 ELECTION LAWS
Only two elections for the Somaliland Protectorate Legislative Council were held before independence on 26 June 1960. These were held under the following laws:
March 1959: Election of the 13 Somali members of the Legislative Council. The NUF and SYL parties took part, but the SYL Party boycotted the election. The election was held under the 1958 Legislative Council (Elections) Ordinance – No. 9 of 1958. The significance of this election was that it was the first election (and the first voter registration exercise) ever held in Somaliland. The 13 members elected were as follows:
Las Anod West : Abdullahi Haji Farah; Las Anod East: Haji Ahmed Sh. Mohamed; Las Anod East (2): Haji Elmi Samater; Burao East: Ahmed Haji Abdullahi; Burao West: Haji Farah Abdi; Burao Township: Ali Egeh Jama; Erigavo West: M J Mariano; Erigavo East: Haji Omer Hori; Berbera: Haibeh Elmi Awad; Hargeisa East: Haji Ahmed Sh. Mohamed; Hargeisa Township: Rashid Sultan Abdullahi; Hargiesa West: Mohamed Hussein Booh; and Zeila: Haji Musa Ahmed Shirwac. (Source: HMSO Somaliland Reports for 1958 and 1959, p.63).
February 1960: Election of 33 Somali members of the new Legislative Council on a universal adult male suffrage. The election was contested by all the Somaliland political parties and was held under the 1958 Legislative Council (Elections) Law as amended extensively in 1959 by the Legislative Council (Elections) (Amendment) Ordinance – No. 8 of 1959. The Legislative Council members elected in February 1960 became, under s. 17 of the Constitution of the State of Somaliland, the members of the first independent Somaliland Legislature on 26 June 1960. On union with Somalia, they also became the first members of the Somali Republic Legislative Assembly representing the Somaliland regions until the 1964 National Assembly Election.