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Referendum Law

                                                 


THE LAW OF THE REFERENDUM ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND 

HAVING SEEN Article 125[1] of the Constitution, which relates to the preparation of the law of the Referendum on the Constitution;

HAVING SEEN Clauses[2] 1 and 2 of Article 130 of the Constitution, which relate to the holding of the Referendum on the Constitution;

HAVING DEBATED AND PERUSED the Government’s proposals on this law of the Referendum on the Constitution;

CONSIDERING that the end of the period[3] of the implementation of the Constitution, which was increased by Parliament is fast approaching;

PASSED THE FOLLOWING LAW

 Chapter I

General Principles

 Article 1: The Purpose of the Referendum

 Every citizen shall cast his vote for or against the Constitution in the Referendum to which this law refers.

 Article 2: The Right to Vote and its Exercise

 1.   Every citizen who fulfils the conditions set out in Article 6 shall be entitled to one vote, which he can cast at the district where he is[4].

2.    Voting is personal, free, and direct; and all persons[5] are equal.

 Article 3: The  Polling Station

 To make the conduct of the Referendum possible, it shall be based on the boundaries of the legally formed districts[6], which currently exist in the country, and each district shall be sub-divided into polling stations.

 Article 4: The Administration of the Referendum

 The Referendum shall be administered at:

1.                 The polling stations;

2.                 The District Referendum Office;

3.                 The Central Referendum Office.

The District Referendum Office shall be at the seat of the District, and the Central Referendum Office[7] shall be at the capital city, Hargeisa.

 Article 5: The Date of the Referendum

 The voting at the Referendum shall be conducted in one day only, the date of which will be set in a Presidential Decree to be issued in an official publication[8] within a maximum period of up to sixty days before the date of the Referendum. 

 Chapter II

Conditions  for Participation in the Referendum

 Article 6: The Right to Vote

 Any one (male or female) who meets the following conditions shall have the right to vote in the Referendum:

1.            He must be a citizen[9] who is a patrial descending from the persons who were resident in the Republic of Somaliland on 26 June 1960[10] or before.

2.            He must not be aged less than 18 years.

3.            He must not be certified as insane.

4.            He must not be a prisoner serving a sentence passed by a court.

 Article 7: The Identification of Persons who have the Right to Vote

 The Polling Station officers shall reach decisions about the eligibility of individuals to vote expeditiously and in line with the provisions of this Law.

 Chapter III

Polling Stations

Article 8: The Number and Location of Polling Stations

 The National Referendum Committee[11] shall, after receiving the advice of the Chairmen of the Regions[12], designate twenty days before the date of the Referendum:

1.   The location of the polling stations[13] in each district, which shall be based on its size and the estimated number of its residents.

2.   The estimated number of persons casting their votes at each polling station shall be planned to be 1500 or more.

3.   Polling stations outside towns shall be situated in accessible locations which (potential) voters can reach and return from[14] in no more than a half-day’s walking. 

 Article 9: The Structure of the Polling Stations

 A.   The Polling Station Committee shall consist of:

1.    A Chairman

2.    An Assistant who may be designated as deputy Chairman

3.    A Secretary.

The above members shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Region after consulting the Mayor or Chairman of the District[15].

B.    If it becomes necessary to replace the Assistant or the Secretary whilst the voting is in progress, the Chairman[16] shall replace him with someone selected from the persons present at the polling station and meeting the criteria for eligibility for voting set out in Article 6. If, however, it is the Chairman of the polling station that has to be replaced, the Chairman of the Region shall do so in accordance with the procedure set out above.

 Article 10: Structure of the District Referendum Office

 A.      The District Referendum Office Committee shall consist of:

1.      A Chairman.

2.      Three Assistants, the oldest of whom shall act as deputy Chairman.

3.      A Secretary.

4.      Three Counting Officers.

B.      The National Referendum Committee shall, after consulting the Chairman of the Region, appoint the members of the District Referendum Office. If there are urgent circumstances which necessitate the replacement of any of the above members, the Chairman of the Region shall have the power to do so.

 Article 11: The Structure of the Central Referendum Office

 The Central Referendum Office Committee shall consist of[17]:

1.    A Chairman.

2.    A Deputy Chairman.

3.    Three Assistants.

4.     A Secretary.

The members of the Central Referendum Office shall be appointed by a Presidential Decree[18].

 Article 12: Notice of Appointment and Oath

 A.    No one may be excused from an appointment to serve as a member of the Referendum administration (committees), if he does not proffer a satisfactory reason. The appointing authority of the member shall have the power to accept such a reason.

B.     Appointments shall be communicated to the persons concerned, at the latest, 20 days before the date of the Referendum.

C.     The following oath shall be administered to all members of the Referendum administration mentioned in Article 4 of this Law before they assume their offices: “I swear in the name of Allah that I shall fulfil the duties relating to the Referendum that I have been entrusted with, in a conscientious and honest manner and shall observe this Law and the other laws of the Republic of Somaliland”.

 Article 13: The Preparation of Polling Stations, the District and Central Referendum Offices  

 1.   The Mayors or Chairmen of the Districts shall be responsible for the preparation of polling stations and the district offices.

2.    The National Referendum Committee shall be responsible for the preparation of the Central Office.

3.    The above-mentioned authorities shall inform the public 20 days before the date of the Referendum:

A.    the number and location of the polling stations;

B.    the printed materials to be used in public places, notice boards, meetings, assemblies and the media.

 Chapter IV

The Voting Equipment

Article 14: The Polling Station Equipment

 A.    The National Referendum Committee shall send to each polling station the following equipment:

1.     A copy of the Constitution.

2.     A copy of this Law.

3.     A sealed envelope containing the stamp of the polling station, ink and inkpad.

4.     A sealed envelope containing the ballot papers.

5.     Ballot boxes.

6.     A container for carrying the voting and office equipment.

7.     A number of registers for recording any incidents relating to the conduct of the voting.

8.     A bottle of indelible ink.

9.     A number of printed large boards explaining the voting procedure to the public.

10.   Office equipment and any other necessary materials.

B.     The Referendum Committee[19] shall also prepare for the District and Central Referendum Offices sealed envelopes containing:

1.     Stamps, ink and inkpads.

2.     Counting Sheets.

3.     Registers.

4.     Office equipment.

5.     The printed materials needed for the above-mentioned Referendum equipment shall be in a closed and sealed container, accompanied by the ballot boxes.

C.     The National Referendum Committee shall also prepare for the Mayors or the Chairmen of the Districts spare sets of the materials needed for the voting, which can be used when a signed and stamped request containing the reasons for the expressed need are received from a Chairmen of a polling station.

 Article 15: The Standardisation of Voting Equipment

 1.    The voting equipment, the stamps of the polling stations and the Referendum office(s), the ballot papers, the registers, the ballot boxes, (and) the counting sheets shall be of the same type throughout the country.

2.     The stamps shall have different serial numbers, and each polling station shall have its own number.

3.     The Referendum ballot papers shall be made of white perforated paper with detachable counterfoil and each set shall contain one hundred sheets. The counterfoil of each sheet shall have a serial number of its own. 

 Article 16: Envelopes and Ballot Boxes

 1.    At each polling station, the Mayor or Chairman of each District shall prepare a room  with a curtain in the middle to enable secret balloting.

2.     A ballot box shall be placed in each of the partitions. One of the ballots boxes shall be white and is for ballot papers accepting the Constitution, and the other shall be black and is for ballot papers rejecting the Constitution.

3.     The top part of the white ballot box shall be marked (YES), and that of the black ballot box (NO). 

 Article 17: The Explanation of the Voting Procedure

 A copy of the board mentioned in Article 14(9) shall be displayed at a place inside and outside of the polling station, where the public can see. The board shall be displayed, in the same way, inside each partition (of the polling station).

 Chapter V

The Voting

 Article 18: The Delivery of Voting Equipment

 The Mayor or Chairman of the District shall:

1.   cause to deliver the containers and ballot boxes at each polling station at 6.00 o’clock in the morning before the date of the Referendum;

2.   cause to deliver the containers for the District Referendum Office at 4.00 o’clock the day before[20];

3.    ensure that notice of the appointments of the members of each polling station office or the District Referendum Office are received at their respective locations.

 Article 19: The Setting up of the Polling Station

 On receipt of the equipment set out in Article 18 of this Law, the Chairman of the polling station shall:

1.    start preparing the layout of the polling station, and assembling the Assistant  and the Secretary;

2.    confirm, in the presence of the other members, that the seals of the containers holding the voting equipment are intact, and ensure that all the contents are there;

3.     after waiting for the presence of the other members who shall confirm with him that all the seals are intact, open the envelope containing the stamp of the polling station and place it in the above mentioned container;  and shall record in the register the numbers of the stamp and of the ballot papers;

4.      confirm, in the presence of the other members, that the ballot boxes are empty and then proceed to close them and seal them whilst leaving clear  the slots for insertion of the ballot papers; and then place them in their appropriate places;

5.      display a copy of the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland Republic;

6.      hand over the rest of the equipment to the Secretary;

7.      ensure that all the voting equipment has been provided in a way which makes possible the proper conduct of the Referendum.

As soon as the above activities are carried out in the shortest time possible, the Chairman shall announce the opening of the voting.

 Article 20: The Power to Keep the Peace

 The Chair of the Polling Station shall:

1.    be responsible for the preservation of the security of the polling station to which the public are congregating, and its surroundings;

2.    call for the assistance of the security forces which will remove or arrest anyone who causes acts which are detrimental to the proper conduct of the Referendum or commits offences;

3.     have his orders only fulfilled by the officials of the agencies of the state and the commanders of the security forces so as to enable all voters to have access to the polling station.

4.     The above powers can also be exercised by the Chairmen of the District Referendum Office and the Central Referendum Office.

 Article 21: Access to the Referendum Polling Station

 1.     Other than the polling station committee members, only persons who have the right to vote may enter the polling station.

2.      Voters shall enter the polling station one at a time whilst observing the order in which they arrived.

3.      Voters shall not enter the polling station if they are in possession of weapons or other objects which may cause harm.

 Article 22: Steps Before the Voting

 Every citizen may cast his vote at the (polling) station where he is and shall prove:

1.     his name and age;

2.     place of residence;

3.     that he can be accepted at the (polling) station that he is eligible to vote. Taking note of any evidence in writing or by witnesses or any other matters that may convince them, the Polling Station Committee shall reach a decision about his eligibility in a quick and brisk manner.

4.      Before a ballot is issued to a voter, he shall have indelible ink marked on his left hand, or if he does not have one, his right hand. If the voter has no hands, the mark shall be placed on another visible part of his body.

 Article 23: Voters who are Unable to Cast their Votes

 1.    Votes may be cast by persons who are eligible to vote and who attend the polling station in person.

2.     The Chairman  shall allow any person, who is unable to vote because of a clear physical infirmity, and is accepted at the polling station as someone who cannot vote, to choose a person who can help him and in whom he has confidence.

The Secretary shall record any such event in the register and shall note the names of the person and his helper and the reasons for the decision.

 Article 24: The Voting Procedure

 On completion of the steps set out in Article 22 of this Law:

1.     The Chairman shall hand, one at a time, to each voter a stamped ballot paper which is detached from the sequentially numbered counterfoil.

2.     The voter shall proceed with the ballot paper to one of the partitions in the polling room.

3.     Votes accepting the Constitution shall be cast in the White ballot box, and those rejecting it shall be cast in the Black ballot box.

4.     If a voter is handed a ballot paper, which is deficient, he may hand it back to the Chairman and ask for a replacement.

5.     Any voter who deliberately loiters whilst voting may be ejected by the Chairman and have his ballot paper confiscated.

6.     Any such ejected voter shall be allowed to vote after all the other waiting persons have cast their votes.

7.     Any voter who is found to have:

A.     more than one ballot paper;

B.     a (ballot) paper different from the standard paper in use;

C.     cast his vote before;

shall have his ballot paper(s) removed by the Chairman, who shall hand him over to the security forces so that appropriate legal steps, including court proceedings, can be taken against him.

8.      If any of the above incidents take place, they shall be recorded in the register accompanied by the following: the name of the relevant voter,  and the ballot paper(s) removed from the person, which shall be signed by the Chairman and, at least one of the other members of the polling station committe and placed in the envelope provided for this purpose.

 Article 25: The Hours of Voting

 The voting shall start at 6.00 o’clock in the morning and shall carry on continuously until 6.00 o’clock in the evening. If necessary, the voting may continue until 10.00 o’clock in the evening.

Nonetheless, so long as (potential) voters are waiting in front of the polling station, the vote shall not be closed. 

 Article 26: The End of the Voting

 On conclusion of the activities mentioned in the preceding Article, the Chairman shall proceed promptly to undertake the following activities:

1.      Announce that the vote is closed.

2.      Seal the ballot boxes, and impress the polling station stamp and the signatures of the Chairman and the other members of the polling station committee on the seals.

3.      Confirm and note in the register the (total) number of ballot papers used by checking the remaining counterfoil.

4.      Confirm and note in the register the (total) number of ballot papers taken from voters:

a.      because  of the papers being imperfect or  incomplete[21];

b.      who deliberately loiter whilst voting;

c.       who have been found to be in possession of ballot papers which do not conform to the legal ones;

d.       who have been found to have cast their votes previously.

5.       Confirm and note in the register the (total) number of ballot papers which remain unused.

6.        On the basis of the above matters, confirm and note in the register the (total) number of persons who actually cast their votes.

7.        Close the registers of the polling station.

8.        Place all the printed materials mentioned above in their respective envelopes, and close and seal  the envelopes in the manner set out in Clause 2 of this Article.

9.        Place the polling stations stamps in the envelope provided, seal the envelope and add the signatures on top of the seal in the manner set out in Clause 2 of this Article.

10.      Place all the envelopes in the container, and close and seal the container and add the signatures on top of the seal in the manner set out in Clause 2 of this Article.

11.      The container(s) shall be dispatched with the ballot boxes.

 Article 27: The Presence of the Polling Station Committee Members

 All the polling station committee members must be present whilst the vote is in progress. The short absence of one member, at a time, is permissible subject to the approval of the Chairman of the polling station.

 Article 28: The Polling Station Register

 The recording in the register of the incidents that take place at the Referendum polling station shall be made triplicate which shall be signed by all the members of polling station committee. One copy shall be for the District Referendum Office to use it for fulfilling its responsibilities, and the other two copies are for the Mayor or Chairman of the district.

 Article 29: The Return and Handing Over of Polling Equipment

 1.    On conclusion of the activities set out in the above Articles,the Chairman, accompanied by, at least, one other member of the polling station committee and protected by the security forces, shall transport promptly the container carrying the materials set out in Article 26 of this Law and the ballot boxes, and shall deliver them at the District Referendum Office.

2.     On receiving the container(s) and the ballot boxes, the District Referendum Office shall check that that they are properly sealed and shall record that in a register with two copies, one of which shall be handed to the Chairman of the polling station and the other to be retained by the District Referendum Office.

3.     The Chairman of the polling station shall then hand over to the Mayor or the Chairman of the District the two copies of the polling station register, which are referred to in Article 28.

 Chapter VI

The Functions of the District Referendum Office

Article 30: The Setting up of the District Referendum Office

 On receipt of the materials set out in Article 18 of this Law, the Chairman of the District Referendum Committee shall:

1.    start setting up the district office and shall assemble the Assistant, the Secretary and the Counting Officers;

2.    after confirmation by him and other the members that all the seals are intact, open the container and take out and check the materials therein;

3.    after confirmation by him and the other members that all the materials, are there, open the envelope containing the stamp, and note its number in the register;

4.    hand over the rest of the materials to the Secretary of the District Referendum Office. The District Referendum Office shall then wait for the arrival of the materials set out in Article 26 of this Law.

 Article 31: Receipt of the Materials from the Polling Station

 The District Referendum Office shall, in accordance with Clause 2 of Article 29 of this Law, receive the containers and the ballot boxes of the polling stations in the order of their arrival.

 Article 32: The Closing of the District Referendum Office

 1.     The District Referendum Office shall not be closed until all the materials from the polling stations in the district have reached it or have been handed over to it formally.

2.      When the Office is closed, no one shall remain inside it, and, whilst fulfilling the orders of the Chairman, the security forces shall secure it from the outside.

 Article 33: The Start of the Counting Activities

 Notwithstanding the setting up of the District Referendum Office, the counting activities shall start at 8.00 o’clock in the morning after the date of the Referendum, but the count of the polling station votes shall not start until the completion of the process[22] of receipt of the Referendum materials from all the polling stations in the district.

1.   Before the count of each polling station vote is started, the Chairman shall, having checked that the seal is intact, open the containers and shall also check the seals of the envelopes enclosed in the container and the seals of the ballot boxes.

2.   The chairman shall announce in a loud voice:

-     the unique number of the polling station and its location;

-     the  (total) number of the persons who actually cast their votes at the polling station as set out in the register of that polling station.

 Article 34: The Sifting of Ballot Papers

 1.     On completion of the activities mentioned in the preceding Article, the Chairman, aided by one of Assistants, shall remove the seal from and open the White ballot box, which contains the votes accepting the Constitution.

2.      The ballot papers in the White boxes shall be removed one at a time, and shall be checked, counted and then placed together in a particular place. At the same time, the running tally of such votes accepting the Constitution shall be announced in a loud voice.

3.     When the sifting of the ballot papers accepting the Constitution is completed, the ballot papers shall returned to their boxes, which shall be sealed. Any improper[23] ballot papers shall be placed in a special envelope, and the Secretary shall mark a running tally of the votes.  After removing, in front of the Committee[24], the seal of the Black ballot boxes, which contain the votes rejecting the Constitution, the Chairman shall open them and follow the procedure laid down in the preceding Clause.

4.     No one, other than the Committee members, can handle the ballot papers. 

 Article 35: Improper Ballot Papers

 Improper ballot papers are:

1.    those which do not carry the stamps of the polling stations;

2.    those which have on them signatures, names or other markings  written or made by the voters in their own hands;

3.    those which have not be issued by the relevant polling station.

 Article 36: The Presence of All the Members of the Office

 All the members of the District Referendum Office shall be present during the period of the count of the ballot papers.  The short absence of one member, at a time, is permissible subject to reasons being given for the absence and the approval of the Chairman.

 Article 37: Decisions about Complaints

 On completion of the sifting of the ballot papers, the District Referendum Office Committee shall reach decisions, by a simple majority, on all written complaints brought from the polling station during the voting or afterwards.

 Article 38: The Confirmation of the Polling Station Result

 On completion of the activities set out in the preceding Article of this Law, the Chairman of the District Referendum Office Committee shall:

1.   confirm any differences between the total number reached by the District Referendum Office and that noted in the polling station register, whilst explaining any reasons for the differences;

2.   declare loudly the total number of voters, the total number of ballot papers cast, the total number of ballot papers which were proper and that of the improper papers;

3.    declare loudly the result of the Referendum whilst showing the number of votes accepting the Constitution and those which reject it;

4.     note all the above matters in the Register of the District Referendum Office. 

 Article 39: The Postponement of the Sifting

 1.    When the sifting of the ballot papers of the polling station is started, it shall not be stopped until it is all completed.

2.     If, however, it cannot be completed within the day, the Chairman may postpone it until 8.00 o’clock of the following day.

 Article 40: The Tally of the Total Result of the District Referendum

  On completion of the activities of the District Office[25] set out in the preceding Article of this Law, the Chairman shall:

1.     add up the totals of the votes cast in all the polling stations of the District as well as the totals of the proper ballot papers, the improper ballot papers, the votes accepting the Constitution, and those rejecting the Constitution;

2.     declare loudly the tentative result of the District, whilst making clear the numbers of those who accepted and those who rejected the Constitution;

3.      inform the Central Referendum Office the result, which shall be written in both numbers and words;

4.      note in the register in triplicate and signed by all the members of the committee the activities of the District Referendum Committee and its declared result.

The three registers: one shall be handed to the Mayor or Chairman of the District; of the other two one shall go to the Supreme Court and the other to the Central Referendum Office, and shall be accompanied by various sealed separate envelopes containing all the complaints received by the District Referendum Office, with each envelope identifying on its cover the name of the relevant polling station to which the incident relates

5.      The Chairman shall store the voting equipment and materials of the polling station and of the District Referendum Office in a special room and shall inform the Mayor or the Chairman of the District. The room shall be locked, sealed and kept secure for the Supreme Court to approve formally the Constitution.

 Chapter VII

The Functions of the Central Referendum Office

 Article 41: The Structure of the Central Referendum Office[26]

 On receipt of the equipment and materials set out in Article 14 of this Law from the National (Referendum) Committee, the Chairman of the Central Referendum Office shall:

1.    assemble the other members of the Committee who are:

a.    the Deputy Chairman;

b.    the Assistants;

c.    the Secretary;

d.    the Counting Officers;

2.     open the containers, check and remove the enclosures after the seals have been confirmed by him and the other members;

3.      open the envelope containing the stamp of the Office, after the seal have been confirmed to be intact by him and the other members;

4.       hand over the rest of the materials to the Secretary.

 Article 42: The Functions of the Central Referendum Office

 1.     On receipt of the telegrams referred to in Clause 3 of Article 40 of this Law, the Central Referendum Office shall declare[27] the tentative overall result of the Referendum.

2.      On receipt of the registers and the complaints referred to in Clause 4 of Article 40 of this Law, the Central Referendum Office shall add up and declare the tentative overall result of the Referendum by:

a)      reaching tentative[28] decisions about the complaints including those which have reached the  Central Referendum Office at a later stage;

b)      adding up the total number of votes cast in all the polling stations of the Republic, and the totals of the number of proper and improper ballot papers, as well as the total number of  votes for and against the Constitution.

The Chairman shall then declare loudly the tentative result of the Referendum of the whole country of the Republic of Somaliland.

3.       The above-mentioned activities shall be  recorded in a register with two copies. One of the registers, together with other materials and the complaints which reached the Central Referendum Office, shall be sent to the Supreme Court for the fulfilment of its duties as laid down in this Law, and the other shall be sent to the National Referendum Committee.

 Chapter VIII

Crimes

 Article 43: Crimes

 Anyone who commits the following criminal acts which may affect the proper conduct of the Referendum activities and the acceptance of the Referendum result, such as:

       the obstruction of the holding of the Referendum[29];

       any acts which are detrimental to the right to vote[30];

       the unlawful entry of a polling station or a Referendum office;

       falsification, forgery, or the fraudulent alteration of the Referendum accounts;

       unlawful voting;

       offences committed by the members of the  Polling Station Committees and of the Referendum Offices;

       obstruction of the proper conduct of the Referendum[31];

       refusal of the appointment to membership of the Polling Station Committee and that of the Referendum Offices.

 Article 44: The Oversight of the Referendum Activities

 1.    The National Committee[32] for arranging the Referendum shall have the overall responsibility for the conduct of the Referendum activities.

2   As representative of the above Committee, the Chairman of each region shall monitor and ensure that Referendum activities in the region are completed within the planned time limits.

3     The Mayor or the Chairman of the District shall be responsible, in the same way, at District level.

 Article 45: Responsibility for Security

 The security and peaceful conduct of the Referendum shall be the responsibility of the security forces, which shall always obey the instructions and directions of the Chairmen of the Regions, the Districts, the polling stations and the Referendum Offices.

 Article 46: The Approval of the Referendum

 The Supreme Court shall have the power to approve the Referendum activities, and shall declare its decision within 10 days of the announcement of the tentative results by the Central Referendum Office.

When the Court approves the Referendum, it shall issue the final outcome of the Referendum.

 Article 47: The Outcome of the Referendum

 1.   If, in the Referendum, the Somaliland public accept the Constitution (YES), the Constitution shall be promulgated by the President.

2.     If the outcome of the Referendum is (NO), the two Houses (the Representatives and the Elders) shall meet urgently within 7 days so as to reach a resolution about the period of the interim implementation of the Constitution[33], and the preparation of a new Constitution. 

 Article 48: Implementation

 This Law shall be applicable to the Referendum on the Constitution only.

This Law shall come into force on the date it is signed by the President of the Republic of Somaliland, and shall published in the Official Bulletin.

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

© May 2001

 



[1] Article 125: The Preparation of the Referendum Law and the Appointment of the Referendum Committee: Whilst taking note of the provisions of the Constitution, a Referendum law shall be issued so as to make possible the holding of the Referendum. A Committee to organise the Referendum shall be appointed in accordance with the Constitution.

[2]  Article 130: The Implementation of the Constitution:

1.  This Constitution shall come into force when a Referendum has been held and the outcome of the Referendum is known. It shall, however, be implemented, in the interim, for a period of three years (3) beginning from the date when it is approved by the third Conference of the Somaliland Communities.

2.  If the Referendum cannot be held within the set period, the interim period in which the Constitution is implemented may be increased by the Parliament (the Representatives and the Elders).

[3] The three year period referred to in Article 130(1) of the Constitution (see above) was extended by the two Houses of Parliament early last year by one year, and then again earlier this year by six months. The Constitution was initially adopted at the third Conference of the Somaliland Communities in February 1997.

[4] As there is no voter registration system, this may not necessarily be the same as the district where he normally resides.

[5]  The word person throughout this Law is denoted to indicate natural persons or individuals.

[6]  There are currently 33 districts in 6 regions.

[7]  It is believed that the Central Referendum Committee is also the National Referendum Committee.

[8]  The set date is 31 May 2001.

[9]  This is the same as Article 4(1) of the Constitution which defines a citizen as “any person who is a patrial of Somaliland, who is the descendant of a person residing in Somaliland on 26th June 1960 or earlier, shall be recognised as a citizen of Somaliland.”. Citizenship is based on jus sanguinis (descent) and not jus soli (place of birth), and is linked to patriality i.e descent from a person who was resident in Somaliland on 26 June 1960 or before – see also article 1 of the Somaliland Citizenship Law.

[10]  That was the date of the independence of the State of Somaliland from Britain. Somaliland was an independent state from then onwards until it joined voluntarily with Somalia.

[11]  See note 7 above. The function of the Committee when sitting as a National Referendum Committee is to plan and execute the Referendum – see the various Articles referring to distribution of voting equipment and materials ( Articles 14 and 41) and  Article 44 relating to the oversight of the Referendum.

[12]  Regional Chairmen are normally referred to as Governors (Badasaab). There are Six regions in Somaliland. 

[13]  It was announced that there will be 600 polling stations in the 33 districts of the country.

[14]  Presumably back to their homes. This is presumably to enable nomads to have accessible polling stations.

[15]  Mayors are in cities and main towns.

[16]  It is not clear which Chairman this clause refers to, but it is submitted that it is the Chairman of the Polling Station.

[17]  See also Article 41(1). The addition of Counting Officers in Article 41 below is to enable the Office to exercise the technical task of verifying the tentative overall results of the Referendum. Nonetheless, the composition of the Committee and the Office and its nexus with the National Referendum Committee could have made been clearer in this Law. The National/Central Referendum Committee needs staffing and support to undertake its wide duties.

[18]  The Decree named the following as members of the National Referendum Committee:

1. Ahmad Jambir Suldaan                        Chairman

2. Abdulqadir Haji Ismail Jirde     Deputy Chairman

3. Said Jama Ali                          Member

4. Ali Omar Ahmad                                 Member

5. Adan Ahmed Diriye                 Member

6. Abdillahi Ibrahim Habane           Secretary

 

[20]  Presumably, the day before the Referendum

[21]  See Article 24(4) for the general power of the Chairman to replace “deficient” ballot papers.  Different adjectives to describe these ballots are used in this Article – 26(4)(a) - and I have translated these adjectives as “imperfect” or “incomplete” ballot papers.

[22]  The process is set out in Clauses 1 and 2 of this Article.

[23]  See the following Article 35 for the definition of improper papers.

[24]  The District Referendum Office Committee.

[25] This is referred to, incorrectly in my view, as the district polling station, rather than the District Referendum Office.

[26]  See Article 11 and notes 17 and 18 above relating to the Central and National Referendum Committees.

[27]  See the following Clauses of this Article about how this declaration should be made.

[28]  The decision is referred to as “tentative”, because the final decisions will be made by the Supreme Court.

[29]  There is also an offence under Article 265 of the Penal code in respect of anyone who uses force or threats towards a public body in order to prevent , wholly or in part, or even temporarily or disturbs in any manner its activities. This offence and others against the public administration are in Book II,  Part II – Crimes against the Public Administration of the Penal Code.

[30]   Some of these offences are also covered by Article 226 of the Penal Code which makes an offence for anyone to prevent wholly, or in part, the exercise of a political right, or to induce someone to exercise it in a manner contrary to his wishes.  This is punishable with imprisonment from one to five years. The right to vote in both the Constitution (Article 22(2)) and this Law (Article 6, above) is a political right.

[31]  See 29 above.

[32]  This is the National Referendum Committee.

[33]  See Article 130(2) of the Somaliland Constitution as set out in note 2 above.

 

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