Somaliland: 16 Countries to Observe Local Council Elections

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Dr Steve Kibble (R) to coordinate international election observer mission with Dr Walls“As ever we look forward to the enthusiasm of the Somaliland people in exercising their democratic rights”- Dr Steve Kibble

“these elections are an important next step in the institutionalisation of a system that brings together representative democratic institutions with traditional social organisational structures”- Dr Michael Walls

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – International shall establish their presence in all polling stations in the country.

This was revealed by Dr Steve Kibble who will coordinate international observers during the local council elections slated for 28th November 2012.

During an interview with Reporter Hamse Bulbul of SLNTV Dr Kibble who informed that observers from 16 countries are on their way, said that his international team will ensure fair and free election result by also observing vote counting at the polling stations.

Said he, “We are here to ensure that Somaliland maintains its world renowned reputation of free and fair election conduct as well as report to the world the outcome”

The countries that are expected to send observers who should be in place a fortnight before polling day that includes USA, UK, South Africa, Kenya, Sweden, Norway, etc shall be supported by others from a number of organizations led by Progressio which Dr Kibble represents, the Development Planning Unit at UCL and Somaliland Focus (UK)

Dr Steve Kibble who promised diligence from his team of international observers informed that a meeting with NEC resulted in accords pertaining to the guidelines for the soon to arrive multi-cultural team of international election observers.

Since it is not the first time for Dr Kibble to participate in such an exercise in the country having similarly coordinated the both parliamentary and presidential elections in 2005 and 2010 respectively, it is anticipated that logistic and other arrangements for the good conduct of observing the elections will run smoothly.

Through his experience and numerous studies of the country’s democratization process Dr Steve Kibble has written extensively not only on past presidential and parliamentary elections but on the imminent local council one as well.

The revelation that 16 countries and several organizations are sending representatives to observe the elections comes as no surprise since the invitation by NEC to Progressio and its subsequent acceptance pointed to Dr Kibble running the show thus a broad make up of the foreign observers.

As in 2010, Dr Steve Kibble (of Progressio) shall be assisted by Dr Michael Walls (of UCL) in coordinating the international elections observer mission funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

In issuing the invitation, Eng. Isse Yusuf Mohamed, the NEC’s chair, said: “Somaliland has long demonstrated a commitment to the consolidation of the democracy which has been in place since 1991. We welcome a diverse range of international observers.” The mission shares this commitment, and observers will come from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

Despite earlier concerns that the scheduled date left little time for effective preparations, the high level of commitment on the ground means the date is likely to stand. With seven political parties contesting the polls (as opposed to the three which previously participated) and a vast field of candidates, this poll presents additional logistical challenges to those faced in 2005 and 2010.

Delays in getting the voting process going and disputes over which political parties are permitted to participate have sharpened tensions among local stakeholders. Changes to rules mean the poll is likely to see increased participation by younger Somalilanders and women, both as voters and candidates: while these are positive developments, they are likely to test established social structures.

While there remain outstanding logistical issues to be resolved around the mission, especially around the security of observers, the team is confident these will be resolved speedily. Dr Michael Walls said “these elections are an important next step in the institutionalisation of a system that brings together representative democratic institutions with traditional social organisational structures. Not only will they decide the personnel who will be responsible for municipal councils in the coming years, but they will determine the three political parties who will contest parliamentary and presidential elections for the next decade.”

He continued, “Somaliland has established a remarkable record of peaceful elections, and that record is attracting ever greater levels of interest from governments and investors internationally. Successful 2012 local elections will provide another substantial milestone on that path.”

Dr Steve Kibble added: “As ever we look forward to the enthusiasm of the Somaliland people in exercising their democratic rights.

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