In 1991, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia. Although no other country has officially recognized Somaliland’s independence, the country enjoys peace and stability in this violent regional context. Somaliland has a government elected by the people it represents with its own public and foreign policy. The country has a long history of peaceful elections and executive turnover.
Somaliland held its third Presidential election on November 13, 2017. The election was originally scheduled for March 2017 but it has been postponed after inadequate funding, political disagreements and complications due to extreme drought.
In November 2017, 704, 089 registered voters out of the country’s 4 million people had to choose between three candidates, all men. An iris recognition-based biometric voting system has been used to cast the vote. Somaliland is a pioneer in this domain, this type of technology was never used before this day.
Overall voter turnout was very strong; 80% of the eligible voters cast their vote. Muse Bihi Abdi of the ruling Kulmiye party polled 55.1% of votes and won the election. His two opponents were Abdirahman Irro of the Waddani party who reached a score of 40.7%; and Faysal Ali Warabe who won 4.7% of votes.
Women's Political Participation
In Somaliland, women face few restrictions: Somali women can work and own property, they are also vocal on social issues. However, they struggle to achieve significant breakthroughs in the political sphere.
Since the country is not officially recognized, there is a lack of updated data concerning the representation of women and their political participation.
In 2014, there was just one woman among the 164 members of the Parliament and only 3 in the Cabinet of 40, representing 7,5% of the total. This situation could be explained by the fact that there is no gender quota in Somaliland. Although multiple laws on gender quota have been drafted, they have not yet passed.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the system of clan strongly influences political outcomes. In the country, candidates are selected by the clans or sub-clans rather than political parties or associations. This system is detrimental to women political representation. In fact, women political candidates belong to two clans – their father’s and husband’s clans – which means that they generally do not have any support.
While women are underrepresented in Somaliland, efforts have been made by the government and progress has been reached. For instance, in April 2017, Khadra Hussein Mohammad became Somaliland’s first female National Deputy Prosecutor. Moreover, during one of the presidential debate, Muse Bihi Abdi pledged to increase the representation of women in politics.
Somaliland remains a strongly male-dominated society and while Somali women may have freedoms, they still face many limits to full political opportunities.