SOMALILAND POLITICAL PARTIES AND ASSOCIATIONS
THE RELEVANT LAWS:
(See below for more information and about the developments relating to the Laws)
27 November 2015: Presidential Decree - 2nd Term Extension of the RAC (The Political Parties & Associations REGISTRATION & APPROVAL COMMITTEE) - The Decree is dated 26 September 2015 and came into force on that date, but was published in the October 2015 Somaliland Official Gazette.
Comment 27/11/2015: Under Article 3(6) of the (Amended & consolidated) Regulation of the Political Associations & Parties Law (see below) the term of office of the RAC which was 2 years beginning from the date of their oath (which was 4 October 2011) may, if necessary, be renewed by the President subject to the approval of the House of Representatives. Although it is not referred to in this 2015 Decree, it was reported in 2013 that the President extended, in October 2013, the RAC’s first 2 year term which expired on 4 October 2013 by a further 2 years. It is not clear whether or not that term extension was endorsed by the House of Representatives and this Decree certainly does not mention any such House approval. If there was no such approval, then this raises a question mark about the legality of the first extension. This House is starting its new session next (Somali) week starting tomorrow, and it remains to be seen how it will view this second extension.
The fall back formula that was set out in the Law was that on the expiry of the RAC term of 2 years (after the conclusion of their registration of the political associations and the three new parties), their remaining Statutory duties in respect of the regulation of the three parties would be taken over by the National Electoral Commission. This was set out in Article 25(8) which states that “when the term of office of the Registration of Political Associations and the Approval of the National Parties expires, their duties shall be taken over by the National Electoral Commission”. Nonetheless when the alternative option of a possible term extension amendment was added to the Law, it was made subject to two conditions: a) That the extension is deemed necessary; and b) that it is approved by the House of Representatives. Therefore both these conditions have to be fulfilled for the automatic transfer to the NEC provision to abate and not kick-in automatically.
Many have questioned what the REC has actually done, since October 2013, in regulating the political parties and this proposed second extension may well attract much more scrutiny than the last one.
There is, however, another legal issue to be considered: If the House turns down the President’s extension proposal, then can the automatic Article 25(8) transfer of the REC duties clause be bypassed anyway, and a new RAC be appointed? It has indeed been one of my criticisms of this Law that it did not specifically make it clear what is to happen after the 10 years certification period of the current 3 parties and when the next cycle of formation and registration of new political associations and selection of the three new parties had to undertaken. The options then would be the appointment of a new RAC or alternatively the RAC duties of registration and assessment of new associations and the overseeing the process of the choice of the new 3 parties to be given over to the NEC ( in addition to those of the regulation of the current 3 parties if the transfer under Article 25(8) is triggered). So there is a cogent argument for advancing that whenever and which ever way the term of the REC ends, even if that arises as a result of the House rejection of the President’s term extension proposal, then there is no option other than the automatic transfer to the NEC under Article 25(8). In such a scenario, therefore, with the NEC having currently its hands full in conducting the voter registration and two elections, additional support for the NEC could be obtained, through a new amendment to Article 11(1) the 2001 Election Law, by increasing the membership of the NEC from the current 7 to 9 (to keep the odd number) and perhaps designating specifically these 2 new members as being primarily responsible for the regulation of the current 3 parties as to avoid any undue effects on the ongoing voter registration and other electoral arrangements. This will certainly be less costly than the permanent retention of a full RAC Committee, which was never originally envisaged in the legislation. When the next round of registration of political associations then comes, it would not be too difficult for the NEC (perhaps with an additional 2 temporary Commissioners added by a new amendment) to deal with all the other RAC duties for that initial 2 year registration period). Editor
13 January 2013: Having received the local elections results (by region and by party/association) from the Electoral Commission, the RAC announced on 26 December 2012 that Kulmiye, Wadani and UCID have succeeded in becoming the new three national parties for the next 10 years.
- Copy of the RAC’s announcement (as published in the Official Gazette).
- (Unofficial) Tables setting out he regional votes for each party/association and working out the percentages and the Article 6 (of the 2011 Law) Code formula for determining the three parties.
25 November 2012: The Election and the RAC Determination
17 October 2012: The 5 political associations (Xaqsoor, Dalsan, RAYS, Ummada, and Wadani) and and the 2 political parties (Kulmiye and UCID) contesting the nation-wide local elections and the Registration & Approval Committee signed on 9 October 2012 a Code of Conduct on the conditions for ascertaining the three new national parties (after the election). The Code also commits the signatories to accepting the outcome of the process. (It is in Somali and as signed).
27 April 2012: Somalilandlaw.com English Language Translation and extensive annotations of the Consolidated Regulation of Political Parties Law (Law No. 14/2011) and its Amendments. (pdf file - 36 pages)
22 December 2011: Somalilandlaw.com Consolidation of the Regulation of Political Parties Law (Law No. 14/2011) and its Amendments -
22 December 2011: On 13 December 2011, the President of the Republic signed the Amendments to Law No. 14/2011 which have now come into force on that date -
27 November 2011: On 27 November 2011, The House of Elders passed the amendments to Law No. 14/2011, without any changes, on a vote of 32 for, 10 against and 6 abstentions.
24 October 2011: The House of Representatives passed on 22 October 2011 amendments to the Law No 14/2011:
23 AUGUST 2011: The President signs the law in a decree publicised today but signed on 20 August 2011 (Decree No. 0168/082011) which came into force on 20 August 2011. A copy of the Law (which remains the same as it was passed by the Representatives, but had the numbering tidied up by the House) is available here: Regulation of Political Associations and Parties Law - Law No. 14/2011 (in Somali).
See below for more information about the Registration Committee and the registration process
13 AUGUST 2011: The House of Elders, after being called back from their recess by the President, considered the law and approved it without any amendments on a vote of 33 for, 15 against and 4 abstaining.
31 JULY 2011: The House of Representatives have passed today the new Regulation of Political Associations and Parties Law (Law No. 14/2011) on a vote of 29 for, 15 against and 4 abstaining. The new law repeals the 2000 Law and consists of 28 articles. The law is yet to be considered by the House of Elders before it goes to the President for signature.
Background of the new Law
THE REGISTRATION COMMITTEE (See also above for new 2015 RAC term limits developments)
The Committee for the Registration of Political Associations and the Approval of National Parties:
This Committee is be set up under Article 3 of the new 2011 Law. The seven member committee shall be appointed by the President and approved by the House of Representatives. Their term of office is two years during which they shall register eligible new political associations which shall contest together with the current three national parties the forthcoming 2012 local district councils’ elections. As happened under the 2000 Law in 2002, The three parties/associations which win the highest proportion of votes at the nation-wide local district councils’ elections in 2012 shall be recognised by the Committee as the new national parties under Article 9(2) of the Constitution. To preserve this constitutional limit of 3 parties, all the newly elected local district councillors who belong to political associations or parties other than the three new successful national parties shall join one of the new parties and the same is expected of any of the current sitting members of the House of Representatives and the President/Vice-President if their current national party fails to come through the local elections again.
At the end of their two year term and the completion of the registration and approval process, the Registration and Approval Committee’s work will end and all their remaining responsibilities relating to the oversight of the three national parties’ compliance with the law shall be taken over by the permanent National Electoral Commission.
The three national parties shall then contest the parliamentary and presidential elections as well as the following 2017 local elections. Unless Article 9(2) of the Constitution is changed, the next cycle of registration of new political associations shall, according to Article 6(5) of this Law, start in 10 years time and by no later than six months before the 2022 local elections. The Law does not explicitly say so but presumably before then a new Registration and Approval Committee shall be appointed unless, of course, this Law is amended by then and, as advanced in various quarters, the functions of registration of new associations and approval of the three national parties are also transferred to the National Electoral Commission.
Membership of the Registration Committee: On 4 September 2011 the President forwarded the names of he seven nominees to the House of Representatives (Pres. Decree No. 0171/092011) as follows:
1. Abdalle Ibrahim Mohamed
2. Abdirazaq Jama Omer (Eyale)
3. Hassan Ahmed Dualeh (Ma’lin) – Lawyer member
4. Omer Hassan Jama
5. Mohamed Abdi Malik
6. Adan Gedi Qaidy
7. Ismail Abdilahi Ali
.The House of Representatives approved all the appointments on 26 September 2011. The Committee members have been sworn into office on 4 October 2011 and have elected their Chairman, Deputy, Secretary and Spokesman.
The Registration process of the political associations and the confirmation of the new three national parties:
The “Forming Stage”:
- On 12 November 2011, the Registration Committee announced that applications for registration of political associations must be submitted within 60 days from that date. The deadline was set as 12 January 2012.
- With the coming to force of the Amendments which reduce the 60 day period for applications to 45 days, the Committee announced on 17 December 2011 that the revised deadline will be 28 December 2011. This was the end of the first “Forming Stage”
The “Norming Stage”:
- On 29 December 2011, the Committee announced that on the closing date of applications, the following 15 political associations have submitted their applications and having fulfilled the stage one requirements have been granted provisional registration: Wadani, DALSAN, UDHIS, NASIYE, NDP, Ummada, Gurmad, Jamhuuriga, Damal, Badbaado, Horyaal, RAYS, SSCD, Xaqsoor and NUUR.
- The 15 Associations then moved into the “Norming Stage” of a maximum of 6 months which could be reduced by the Committee under the amended Article 5(2) of the Law. This period is to allow the Associations to complete the organisational formalities such as the rules of the associations and to hold the general meet, attract the requisite membership and meet the normative requirements of the Law.
- On 7 March 2012, the Committee explained (publicly and also, apparently in direct communication with each association) that the 1000 members required in Article 5(3)(b) must be a) persons who were registered voters and have their voter registration cards and that the names and cards of each associations supports should be registered at the relevant regional centre each association and forwarded to the committee ; and b) the 1000 supporters of each association should be available on a pre-arranged date and time at the each association’s centre for verification by the committee. In the light of the current special circumstances (duruufo gaar ah) in the Eastern Sool region, the Committee, whilst invoking its regulation making power under Article 26 of this Law, set out that the lists of the 1000 supporters for each association should be prepared at Las Anod, the capital of Sool, but that each association should produce in person at Ainabo only 20%(i.e 200) of the 1000 supporters for verification.
- The Committee also announced that the verification process of the required membership shall take place at each region (starting from Borama (Awdal)) from 9.00 o’clock on 18 March 2012 to 30 March 2012.
- The Committee also stated that each association must hold its general meeting between 15 March 2012 to 15 April 2012 and a) form its central committee, executive committee, leadership and structure of the association; b) complete the rules of the association and its political programme; c) forward to the (Registration) Committee visual and sound recording showing the main issues dealt with at the general meeting; d) the general meeting must be attended by at least one member of the (Registration) Committee.
- The Committee also added that it will announce the outcome of its stage 2 (norming stage) assessments of each association on 20 April 2012 and confirm which associations can proceed to the next stage of participating in the local councils’ elections. The Committee advised the associations to consider mergers and exhorted them and the parties to observe the laws of the country, the public order and good conduct.
- On 20 April 2012, the Committee announced that six associations fulfilled all the stage 1 and stage 2 conditions set out in this Law. These were Wadani, Dalsan, Ummada, Nasiye, Rays and Xaqsoor. The remaining 9 associations were adjudged as having not met all the conditions.
- The Committee announced belatedly on 3 May 2012 the reasons why the other nine associations have been adjudged by the Committee as having not met the Stage requirements. These as translated by Somaliland Sun were as follows:
“Detailed below are reasons behind each of the nine groups' disqualification as viable political entities by the PPR&VC:
1. SSCD : Opened Only one office in Maroodi Jeeh (Hargeisa) Region while it failed to present 1000 registered party members in any region.
2. DAMAL : Did not have functioning offices nor 1000 registered members in Sahil, Togdheer and Sanaag regions
3. NUUR: Did not have functioning offices in Sahil and Sanaag while it did not present 1000 registered members in all regions apart from Maroodi Jeeh (Hargeisa)
4. JAMHUURIYA : Did not have functioning offices in Sahil and Togdheer while it did not present 1000 registered members in all regions apart from Maroodi Jeeh (Hargeisa)
5. NDB: Did not have functioning offices in Sahil and Togdheer while it did not present 1000 registered members in Sahil, Sanaag and Sool regions.
6. HORYAAL: Did not have functioning offices in Sahil and Sool while it did not present 1000 registered members in Sahil and Sanaag regions.
7. UDHIS: Did not have functioning offices in Sanaag and Sool while it did not present 1000 registered members in Togdheer and Sanaag regions.
8. BADBADHO: Did not have functioning office in Sool while it did not present 1000 registered members in Sool and Sanaag regions.
9. GURMAD: Did not have functioning office in Sool while it did not present 1000 registered members in Awdal region.” - Source: Yusuf M Hassan - Somaliland Sun.
All these associations can, if they wish, exercise their right to challenge these decisions at the Supreme Court (see below - Judicial Challenge)
The Campaigning and Polling Stage:
- The Committee has since informed the National Electoral Commission of the final list of 6 political associations that, together with the current three political parties at the nationwide local elections that will be held throughout the country on a date to be set by the Electoral Commission. under the Local District Councils (and Presidential) Elections Law 2002, as amended.
- A few days before the closing date for the submission of candidates’ lists to the Electoral Commission, which was set for 14 September 2012, Nasiye Political Association decided it shall not be submitting candidates and will be withdrawing from the contest. UDUB Party, which was undergoing internal problems initially asked for a postponement of the deadline and then announced that it will not participate in the election. Since then prominent members of both Nasiye and UDUB joined the other associatios/parties.
- The nation-wide local elections which will be held on 28 November 2012 will now be contested by 5 political associations (Wadani, Dalsan, Ummada, RAYS and Xaqsoor) and two political parties (Kulmiye and UCID).
The Approval of the new National Parties Stage:
- When the elections are and the results are confirmed, the National Electoral Commission shall inform the Registration Committee. Following the provisions of Article 6 of the Law, the Registration Committee shall annouce the three associations or parties which have won the highest total number of votes which shall be declared as the new three new national parties accepted under Art. 9 of the Constitution.
- The formula for working out the three top associations/parties is set out in Clause 1 to 4 of Article 6 of the Law which state as follows:
“1. The three parties/associations which gain in the local government election 20% of all the votes cast in every region shall be recognised as national political parties, and shall each be issued with a certificate of recognition as a national party.
2. If only one party [or association] succeeds in gaining 20% of the votes in every region, the Committee shall recognise as national political parties that party [or association] and the other two parties [or associations] which come next in the total percentage of votes cast for them in every region.
3. If the percentage of the regional votes cast for two or more associations [or parties] are equal, they shall be differentiated on the basis of the total number of votes cast for each of them .
4. If no political association [or party] gains 20% (of the votes in every region), the Committee shall recognise as national political parties the three parties [or associations] that have gained the highest percentage of votes cast in the regions of the country.”
- Further explanations of the workings of these formulas can be found at the annotated text of the Law which available above. The political associations and the parties contesting the election on 28 November 2012 and the Committee has signed on 9 October 2012 a Code of Conduct on the conditions for ascertaining the new three national parties which also commits all the signatories to the acceptance the outcome. (see also above for a copy)
Post Election Stage:
- As the Constitution allows only three national parties, the successful new three parties shall be recognised as the national parties for a period of 10 years (see Article 4(3)(h)) and will be able to contest the national parliamentary and presidential elections during that period, as well as the next nationwide local elections.
- On 26 December 2012, the Committee, having received the election results from the NEC announced that the three new parties shall be Kulmiye, Wadani and UCID.
- All the elected councillors belonging to the unsuccessful political associations/parties must join one of the new three national parties and (broadly) similar rules apply to the sitting House of Representatives members and the incumbent President and vice President (see article 24). For the purposes of this exercise the parties Representatives are deemed to belong are those which they belonged to at their last election in 2005, even though, as allowed under Article 11(4) of the Law, some of them may have defected from those parties since and joined another party or one of the new associations.
THE REGULATION OF THE PARTIES
During its short term of 2 years, the Registration Committee has also responsibility for overseeing the conduct of the political associations and the parties. This involves primarily ensuring that provisions of the Law are followed by the parties/associations. So far as the associations are concerned, the Committee shall take note of these in assessing their perfomance during the forming and norming stages, but the main provisions relating to conduct are aimed at the national parties through their ten year tenure. The Registration Committee is specifically tasked under Article 25(7) to “monitor the internal democracy of the parties (and to) submit, when necessary reports to the House of Representatives”. The Committee also the power to levy a monetary fine of (up to?) 30 million shillings on any party or assocaition which contravenes the Law.
This “regulatory” role of the Committee shall be taken over by the National Electoral Commission on the expiry of the 2 year term of the Committee on 4 October 2013 (see Article 25(8) of the Law).
The following provisions of the 2011 Law all raise “regulatory” issues:
Article 7: Matters in which Parties/Associations are forbidden
Article 8: The rights of the National Parties
Article 9: The rights of citizens
Article 10: Reasons for losing membership
Article 11: Candidates contesting the House of Representatives and the District Councils elections
Article 12: Period of office of the President and of Party Chairmen
Article 13: The Rules and structure of the political associations
Article 14: Prohibitions
Article 15: Symbols and Names
Article 16: Leaders of the Political Parties/Associations
Article 17: Changes in Leadership and the Rules of the Parties/ Associations
Article 18: The Media of the Party or Association
Article 19: The Property of the Party/Association
Article 20: The legal personality of the parties
Article 21: Fines for contravention of the law
Article 22: Prohibitions relating to Government Grants to the parties
Article 23: Accounts
Article 24: The unsuccessful party and the association that does not become a party
Article 25: National Parties’ capacity building and improvement
Article 29: Disputes within a party/association or between two associations/parties
Various provisions of the Electoral (and, the currently suspended voter registration laws) also set standards of conduct for the parties (and associations) . While the Registration Committee is in existence the divide between its areas of responsibility and those of the National Electoral Committee is likely to be marked by whether or not any specific conduct or issue relates to elections, but there will no doubt be close liaison and working arrangements between the two on both jurisdictional issues in the short term and on ensuring a smooth transition in October 2013.
... More to follow on regulatory issues.
Like all public administrative or regulatory bodies, the Registration Committee is equally subject to judicial review of its final decisions.
Firstly, under Article 8(1)(e) of the Law, any of the three national parties may “submit, in writing, to the relevant Regional Court any plaints or grievances they may have about the work of the Committee for the Registration of Political Associations and the approval of the National Parties”. If it is dissatisfied with the decision of the Regional Court, it can appeal to the “Constitutional Court” (Article 8(1)(f)).
Secondly, the Registration Committee is a public administrative/regulatory body and any of its final decisions can be challenged by either the political associations or any individuals directly affected by these decisions under Article 9(4)(c) of the Judiciary Law and this Article 8(1) of the 2011 Law relating to the rights of the political parties and which gives them a new right to complain to a Regional Court does not, in my view, take away the rights of others, such as the political associations to challenge the administrative decisions of the Committee. In these cases, the Supreme Court (and not the Regional court or the Constitutional Court) will be the right forum for any such legal action, and the noraml time limit of instituting such an action is 30 days from the date of the Committee decision.
THE OLD 2000 Law
THE 2000 Law has now been repealed and has been replaced by the Law of the same title but now numbered Law No. 14/2011 which has come into force on 23 AUGUST 2011. If you require a copy of the old Law (in Somali or English) please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org