Transitioning Somalia to Direct Elections: Lessons from Somaliland and Puntland

PRIO Paper

Musa, Ahmed Mohamed; Cindy Horst & Hassan Aden (2023) Transitioning Somalia to Direct Elections: Lessons from Somaliland and Puntland. PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

In recent years, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has increased its engagements with the international community and financial institutions, which has resulted in increased pressure on the country to improve its governance. This includes a call to hold direct elections – a goal that the Federal Government of Somalia and its federal member states (FMSs) have yet to achieve. Somaliland, which unilaterally declared independence in 1991, has successfully conducted several direct elections, and FMS Puntland has also made partial progress towards this goal. Puntland has recently completed biometric voter registration and successfully held local council elections on 25 May 2023. In this report, we examine the factors that facilitated the transition process to direct elections in Somaliland and Puntland, as well as the challenges that have hindered progress. Drawing on lessons learned from those experiences, we explore how to chart a path towards successful direct elections in Somalia. Future research is needed to understand challenges to the transition process from the perspectives of stakeholders in south-central Somalia.

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