SOMALILAND LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAWS
Updating - April 2012...
The Current Principal Local Government Law
The main law governing Somaliland local government is the Regions & Districts (Self Management) Law (Law No: 23/2002) which has been added to extensively in 2007, but retained the same title and number. The amended Law titled in Somali, Xeerka Ismaamulka Gobolada iyo Degmooyinka (Xeerka Lr. 23/2002) as signed by the President (Decree No. 283/2007) runs into 104 Articles. An English language translation of this amended Law is not yet available, but the headings of all the articles of the Law is available here in English..
The 2002 Law (as amended) confirms that the country is divided into six regions, which contain a number of districts each. Districts, in turn, contain villages. The Regional Councils are not elected, but include the elected Mayors of the districts in each region. District councils (graded A to C under this Law) are, however, elected under the procedures laid down in the Presidential and Local Elections Law. District Councils graded D and awaiting assessment and confirmation by Parliament have nominated councils. Village councils are nominated by the elders and other prominent persons of the villages and are appointed by the District Councils.
A summary of the status of all the regions and districts shall be available shortly. The extra new 6 regions and 16 districts created by Presidential Decree in 2008 have not been approved by Parliament and are, in line with the presidential decrees, still disregarded for electoral purposes (see Somaliland Law .com 2008 commentary on these Presidential Decrees - “Somaliland Local Government Re-organisation through Presidential Decrees in an Election Year”.
... (to be updated shortly)
Background (to be updated shortly)
During the years of the Protectorate and the short independent State of Somaliland, the main law governing local government was the Local Government Ordinance 1953 (Ordinance No. 1 of 1953) but the first district advisory councils were established in 1951 when Town councils responsible for the collection of local revenue were introduced. These were given powers to administer local services in 1953, but met with some opposition, apparently because of the unpopularity of local taxes. Councils levied property taxes (rates) and land rents and fees. There were six principal districts (which, even now, form the six regions of Somaliland) each headed by a District Commissioner. Other than the capital, Hargeisa, each such district council covered the whole district. Some of the councillors were elected and others were appointed and the executive responsibility of the council was exercised mainly by an appointed full time executive officer, subject to the policies laid down by the Councils and their committees.
There was also the Local Authorities Ordinance 1950 (Ordinance No. 8 of 1950), but that dealt with the role of Akils or traditional clan leaders who opposed the system as they saw it as a diminution of their customary role. The changes were, however, gradual and initially involved the appointment of salaries Akils. The Ordinance empowered some of the Akils to assist the administration (i.e the District Commissioner) in maintaining law and order, enforcing, when feasible, orders and regulations and, above all, in bringing to justice persons of the Akils’ clans who committed crimes. The system of Akils still exists and has even thrived in Somaliland during the last 15 years, but it has no legal role in the local or central governmental structures, except in so far as both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and local authorities work with them closely in keeping the peace between the communities, which they have excelled in Somaliland. The Akils have now their own non-statutory forum known as the Sultans’ Council. (For more information on the relationship between the Sultans/Akils and the local/central government, see the Law on the Structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Administration of Regions and Districts 1993).
After the the union with Somalia on 1 July 1960, the Somaliland territory consisted of two regions (referred to the Northern Regions) and Somalia consisted of six regions (the Southern Regions) - Law No: 14 of 14/06/1962. Each region was headed by a Governor who was appointed by the Minister of Interior. In 1963 the Local Administration and Local Council Elections Law (Law No: 19 of 14/08/1963) set out the functions and structures of the local district councils and the current Somaliland Regions and Districts Law is broadly based on this Law. The first local council election under this Law took place in November 1963. The democratic structures of the local government came to an end abruptly with military coup in 1969.
On re-assertion of its independence in 1991, Somaliland started to rebuild its local democracy. Article 22 of the Somaliland National Charter 1993 emphasised the importance of the need to build democratic local councils in all the districts and the regions and this was echoed in the 1997 Interim Constitution - the provisions relating to local government are now set out in Article 109 to 112 of the Somaliland Constitution. Prior to the 2002 Regions and Districts Law, the main Law which governed local authorities in Somaliland was the the Law on the Structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Administration of the Regions and Districts 1993.
the first direct elections of district councils throughout Somaliland (since the mid 1960s) were held in December 2002. Although these elections took place everywhere, the lack demarcation of boundaries of the smaller Grade D districts meant that no councils were elected for them and their mayors are still appointed directly by the Minister of Interior. The next (postponed) elections are now due to be held in 2012.
Other main Local Government Laws