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Cablegate: Somalia - Somaliland Elections Postponed As Parliament

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 001895

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Somaliland Elections Postponed as Parliament
Tables Impeachment Motions

REF: Nairobi 1834

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) For the fourth time, Somaliland's National Electoral
Commission announced on September 6 that presidential elections
would be postponed. On September 5, 43 legislators from
Somaliland's two opposition parties tabled a motion in the House of
Representatives to impeach the President and Vice-President. During
the same session, 29 MPs from the ruling party tabled a motion to
allow MPs to remove the Speaker of the House and his two deputies
(all representatives from the opposition parties) by a simple
majority vote. On September 8 when the legal advisor made the
recommendation that both motions be debated by parliament, an MP
instigated a fight in the chambers and reportedly drew a pistol.
The police responded by locking the chambers of both the upper and
lower houses of parliament, thus preventing any additional debate
over the competing impeachment motions. No shots were fired but
four MPs were injured and several journalists and members of the
public were arrested. The political stalemate continues as public
frustration mounts along with increased use of force by state
security forces. End Summary.

--------------------------------
Presidential Elections Postponed
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 6, the seven members of the National Electoral
Commission (NEC) formally announced that the presidential election
cannot be held on its scheduled date of September 27. This
announcement marks the fourth official postponement of Somaliland's
presidential election. The NEC members did not set a new timeline
of election date, stating that the stakeholders would have to agree
on the way forward. The representatives told the press the NEC
members agreed on the following:

-- To reverse the decision reached by four NEC members in which they
annulled the Voter Registration.
-- To accept that it is not feasible to hold the Presidential
election on September 27, 2009 due to technical, political and
economical reasons.
-- To allow time for arbitration between the political parties and
wait till the parties reach a consensus that will determine a
possible timeline for the election.

The reversal of its July decision to proceed with elections without
the voter registration list marks a major milestone. Unfortunately,
this decision was overshadowed by events at parliament unfolding at
the same time.

-----------------------------
Competing Impeachment Motions
Tabled in Parliament
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) On September 5, 43 legislators from Somaliland's two
opposition parties tabled a motion to impeach President Riyale and
Vice-President Ahmed Yusuf Yassin in the House of Representatives.
The motion reportedly accused the President and Vice President of
crimes including embezzlement of national assets, violation of the
Constitution, high treason and being "dictators." During the same
session, 29 MPs from the UDUB ruling party tabled a motion to amend
procedural rules to allow MPs to remove the Speaker of the House and
his two deputies (all representatives from the opposition parties)
by a simple majority vote. (Note: At present under the current
procedural rules, a two-thirds majority of the 82 member parliament
is required to remove the Speaker and the President and
Vice-President.)

-----------------------
Violence Erupts and
Police Close Parliament
-----------------------

4. (SBU) The morning of September 8, Ahmed Ali Kahin, parliament's
legal advisor, submitted his findings that both motions were legal
and could be debated by the legislative body. Kahin said that since
the impeachment motion was filed first, it should be debated first.
Shortly after the formal opening of debate, one of the MPs from the

NAIROBI 00001895 002 OF 002


ruling UDUB party, Abdirahman Mohamed Jama, started shouting at the
speaker. Opposition MPs stepped in and an altercation between
ensued. Jama reportedly drew a pistol from his briefcase, but no
shots were fired (the gun reportedly jammed).

5. (SBU) Police forces entered the legislative hall and the Speaker
closed the session. Although the MPS urged the police to arrest
only the MP who had pulled the gun, the commander reportedly told
the representatives that he had orders to close the building. The
security forces ushered all MPs out and reportedly arrested several
members of the media and the public who were at the session. Four
MPs were injured. Police locked the chambers used by both houses of
parliament, including the space where the Guurti (upper House of
Parliament) convenes.

6. (SBU) The security presence in the capital is heavy and since
September 6, all of Hargeisa's main streets near the Parliament and
Presidential compound have been blocked by police. Most of our
contacts told us that the disturbance in parliament was calculated,
similar to the altercation initiated by six UDUB MPs on August 24
(reftel), to prevent an impeachment motion. When we spoke to
representatives of the opposition parties, they believed they had
the votes to support the impeachment of the President and
Vice-President.

----------------------
Guurti Takes a Stand
On the Political Crisis
-----------------------

7. (SBU) Somaliland's Guurti (House of Elders) has played a
constructive mediating role and appointed a committee to evaluate
the current political situation. On September 5, the committee
offered its suggestions which the representatives overwhelming
passed (55 for, 2 abstained, Speaker did not vote). The Guurti
decided on the following:

-- The members will be neutral to all the political parties.
-- The members must not join the political parties.
-- The members will respect any consensus reached by the political
parties which is for the interest of all the people in Somaliland.
If the political parties don't reach a consensus soon, the House of
Elders will implement its constitutional duties.

After the vote, the Speaker of the Guurti, Suleiman Mohamud,
reportedly said "the President must focus on the interest of the
people instead of holding on to his position; otherwise he must step
down from the presidency as a candidate for the Presidential
election."

-------
Comment
-------

8. (SBU) With the official postponement of the presidential
elections for the fourth time, all stakeholders and the public are
growing increasingly frustrated. Many Somalilanders consider recent
events in parliament to be part of the government's plan to stay in
power, at all costs. By closing down the parliament building, it
has prevented any debate on the impeachment motions and the Guurti
from implementing its "constitutional duties." Opposition leaders
told us their supporters are calling for public protest, but they
fear that unlike the historic peaceful protests of August 20, this
time violence could ensue. The government is increasingly relying
on the use of state security forces to maintain a more aggressive
security posture. In this environment, mediation remains stalled
and none of the political parties has mentioned the voter
registration list, the composition of the NEC, or any of the other
prerequisites to plan a presidential election. We continue to
engage with our international counterparts and will offer our
position on political proposals to be carried back to Hargeisa by a
mediation team likely to be co-led by the UK and Ethiopia.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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