By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The country’s democratization process donors are showing a covert interest in the disputed local council elections.
The UK has completed a whirlwind election conduct fact-finding mission to the country as pertains to establishing facts that led to disputes and violence related to the local council elections.
The UK team was made of senior diplomats from British Embassies in Nairobi and Addis Ababa among them a lady diplomatic from Nairobi with a specific mandate on gender issues.
The British envoys who met and held discussions with various stakeholders among them the head of State H.E Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo and political parties leaders in Hargeisa, are reported to have been mostly interested in events that transpired during local council elections held on 28th Nov 2012 and termed as unsatisfactory conduct wise.
Though the talks were held in-camera sources indicate that both the head of state and leaders of the three official political parties of Wadani, UCID and Kulmiye were queried separately as per to the pre and post election events that led to disturbances in various parts of the country.
During the meeting with political parties leaderships held separately with WADANI, UCID and Kulmiye the UK envoys were made privy to a number of issues purported to have marred the holding of a free and fair polling exercise thus directly responsible for the dispute that arose after release of results by the national election commission-NEC the main culprit in the controversy that refuses to go away.
Sources privy to the closed door meetings reveal that the issues presented to the UK envoys that left the country same day include:
• Vote rigging by the ruling Kulmiye party
• Lackluster election management by NEC thus a lack of coordination with the seven contesting parties at District, Regional and National levels
• Non performing election officials who were not properly supervised.
• Provision and Use of poor quality voter marking ink which led to ease of erasure thus double/triple voting and
• Conducting elections without a voters register
These were the most tangible points in the exhaustive list of local council election anomalies that the Britons availed from the political leadership.
Despite UK being one of the country’s biggest donors in all sectors It is not yet clear what prompted the Brits to conduct the fact-finding mission at this time since the international election Observer mission from over 20 countries and organizations is yet to release its final report.
The Local council elections of the 28th Nov 2012 which were the second to be held in the country since the advent of multi-party politics in 2002 became the deadliest after a number of citizens died and several others injured in disputes related to election results released by the national election commission.
The aftermath of the election dispute which has raised eyebrows internationally has also seen a stand-off in local council election of mayors especially in the local governments of Sayla and Erigavo though with varying levels of severity.
The mild Erigavo Mayorship tussle revolved around the reelection of long serving councilor Ismail Haji Nuur as mayor for the second time, his election was scrapped by the government for what was termed as irregularities arising from the new council conducting business without being sworn-in as the law dictates. Opponents of the government who termed the move as a ploy to eliminate opposition in the form of the diminutive Ismail Haji Nuur later reelected him.
The Sayla Mayorship controversy that is currently being solved by the minister of interior Hon Mohamed Duur Arale in whose docket local government falls, has been the most volatile considering that it ensued immediately after the elections and has engulfed other areas like neighboring Borame where a person died and others injured after they confronted the vice president who was enroute to Sayla for reconciliation.
Sayla town has been the scene of violent confrontations between police and a segment of area residents who are protesting what they term as an invasion of their town by outsiders. The confrontations have ensued with deaths and injuries to the protesting residents.
Since after the local council elections of 28th Nov 2012 the lineage of the person to occupy the mayor’s office has been the bone of contention with the Isse clan who claim the area having won 7 seats as opposed to the Gadabursi considered as outsiders thus a minority clan garnering 10 seats.
The elevation of Councilor Barkad to the town’s Mayorship has been the bone of contention since he is from the minority with the, majority Isse’s claiming the elections were rigged in favour of the opposite clan.
Though Mayor Barkad elected during a sitting of ten councilors only, claims the security situation is back to normal the burning of his official vehicle and subsequent police investigation comes a few days after a violent confrontation between police and residents that led to the death of one and injuries to many others during an early military raid of the town.
With things the way they stand it is not clear how and what steps the UK government is going to take since covert recriminations are tantamount to involving with internal affairs of another country this time the unrecognized Somaliland, a former colony.
The fact-finding mission might also be a British gimmick to ensure that the situation in Somaliland is calm before the UK fronted, funded and facilitated planned resumption of talks with Somalia to be hosted by Prime Minister David Cameroon in May this year.