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Local Council Elections: Somaliland’s Experience

Elections alone do not make a democracy. A measure of Somaliland’s democracy will be the way its elected institutions function. Highly localised democratic practices have been a characteristic of Somali pastoralist society and balancing the centralising forces of the state with the demand for a measure of localised political autonomy has been a challenge for all Somali governments. The creation of a decentralised democratic government was integral to the SNM’s vision for the country. Somaliland’s first district council elections in 2002 created an opportunity to establish a decentralised democracy. In this article Suad Ibrahim examines the extent to which this has been realised, and suggests ways in which local democracy and public participation in government can be enhanced.

Su'ad Ibrahim

Academy for Peace and Development

Suad Ibrahim Abdi is a senior researcher with the Academy for Peace and Development where she has worked since 1997. She is a specialist in participatory research with a particular focus on women empowerment issues and local government in Somaliland. She has been the Chair of the Board of Directors of NAGAAD and now is an active member of the Independent Scholars Group. She holds a law degree.