Editor’s note: In the same week Taiwan has been gearing up for today’s 109th National Day celebrations, the nation’s most recent diplomatic and political ally, Somaliland in north east Africa, has been going through some questionable political shifts observed from afar in Taipei.

This is the latest piece in an ongoing series on current events and political issues in Somaliland.

In a highly orchestrated event attended by the majority of Somaliland ministers and ruling party elites, the longest-serving Somaliland Vice President, His Excellency Abdirahman Abdallahi Ismail Saylici conceded his seat as the 4th Deputy Chairman of the ruling Kulmiye party to political newcomer and first-time Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Hon. Mohamoud Hassan Saad (Saajin).

Although the ruling party’s annual congress (was) scheduled for October 4th and in theory is where new leadership and delegates are elected, the battle for top posts seems to be over before the highly anticipated event even started.

Vice President Saylici has denied that he is mulling resignation and just before the dispute with Minister Saajin spilled into the open, perhaps unaware of the gathering storm, has declared his aspiration to for the Presidency and just a little before that had thrown himself a party celebrating his 10 year anniversary as Somaliland’s longest-serving Vice President.

Although legal scholars disagree on whether the Vice President is constitutionally limited to two terms, in his interview with Abdisalam Herari from April, the VP seems to believe that he will not be able to serve a third term as a Vice President. In that interview, he stated that he will be the next Chairman of the Kulmiye after President Bihi hands over the reigns of power.

Minister Saajin publicly challenging the Vice President’s party seat, and emerging as the victor, now arguably positions himself as a possible Vice President in the next election cycle and dashes Mr. Saylici’s political aspirations for the foreseeable future.

The fierce and public competition between the Vice President and Minister Saajin provided fodder for speculation that the sun may be setting on the long and illustrious career of Vice President Saylici as President Bihi, also the Chairman of Kulmiye methodically puts many party heavyweights to pasture to make way for fresh faces and alliances to carry him over the finish line in the next presidential election.

Despite bringing some novices into the political arena, President Bihi has retained many officials from President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo’s administration.

Recently, other Kulmiye heavyweights and former Minister of Presidency Mr. Mohamoud Hashi and the Planning and National Development Minister have complained about being prevented from competing for the party’s top posts.

According to sources who spoke to the Somaliland Chronicle on condition of anonymity, President Bihi intends to reshuffle his cabinet after the Kulmiye party congress to reflect the party’s new composition.

One official described the event held at the Presidential palace as “Saylici’s retirement party“.

Although many have congratulated the Vice President for his brave decision to take the high road and concede to Minister Saajin, there are a lot of questions about his future viability as a political force despite being the longest-serving Vice President of Somaliland.

Vice President Saylici did not respond to questions about what the concession means for his political future, if he is considering resignation or will finish out his term and if what he has conceded to Minister Saajin is more than his Kulmiye post but rather the Vice Presidency itself.

This article first appeared in the Somaliland Chronicle, and is republished with permission.

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