The Democratization Journey – Puntland Federal State, Somalia

Somalia a country located in the Horn of Africa has been plagued by decades of prolonged conflicts, political instability, and economic challenges. Despite the challenges, there has been a glim of hope denoted by the steps taken by the Federal states such as Puntland.

Puntland Federal State has undergone notable democratic transitions in history since 1998.  With the establishment of the Puntland Charter, it consequently bequeathed the executive and parliament with the traditional clan-based electoral system remaining predominant. With the establishment of the Puntland Electoral Commission, the country witnessed a momentous shift in the management and conduct of the elections. In 2011, the Puntland electoral process recorded significant strengthening with the enactment of the Puntland Electoral Laws. These laws provided the legal framework that established the regulations for conducting elections and outlined the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders, including the Puntland Electoral Commission, political parties, and candidates.

Despite the milestones that the State had made in its electoral systems, in 2013 Puntland unsuccessfully attempted for the first time to implement the One person One Vote system in the local elections. In the consequent years, in October 2021, Puntland successfully conducted its first One Person One Vote system, marking a revolutionary step towards an inclusive and participatory democracy. Summatively, Puntland State dominated by the clan-system of elections, is steadily on the journey of building and refining its electoral systems to ensure that the voice of every citizen is valued, and their choice is effectively translated into government representation.

Through the interventions by The Oslo Center, Political associations have created platforms for political participation, promoting different ideologies, and influencing policy-making processes. During that time, Puntland’s electoral commission registered nine political associations that participated in the 2021 and 2022 local elections.

The succesful implementation of One Person One Vote system exemplify the great strides made towards participatory democratization process in Somalia as a country.