By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The International Elections Observer-IEO mission is set to release its final report on the 2012 local council elections.
The report dubbed -SWERVES ON THE ROAD captures events of pre-election campaigns, polling and counting day, and give highlights of ways in which future elections can be improved shall be released on Sunday 14th July from 9:30am-11:30am at the Mansoor Hotel in Hargeisa where a panel consist of three persons will be discussing the report, followed by questions and answers session.
The International election observation mission to Somaliland’s local council elections, assembled by Progressio, University College London and Somaliland Focus (UK), launches final report highlighting the “swerves on the road” as Somaliland continues to drive its developing democracy forward.
During the first launch of the “Swerves on the Road” in London earlier this year the 50-strong team from 20 countries which was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to observe voting on and before polling day, November 28th 2012 noted that once again, Somalilanders displayed their dedication to the unique democratic spirit they have crafted from their challenging history.
At the launch held at a function dubbed Contextualising Somaliland Elections: Clan, Ethnicity and Parties held on 11th June at the University College London the IEO report launch was preceded by a panel discussion and election photo exhibition by Kate Stanworth.
According to the report which also terms the elections as having been free and fair “there was real progress in inclusion of youth and women: the election of 10 female candidates represents a huge step forward. Yet concerns expressed immediately following polling day – especially over observers’ reports of widespread attempts at multiple and underage voting – remain real”
While the IEO terms the elections as having been successfully conducted a few misgivings are indicated with sufficient evidence to state that successful attempts at multiple voting occurred at very significant levels. Thus, although the report declares the election process reasonably free and credible, it must fall short of describing it as fair.
Yet, despite the reservations and some genuine grievances, there were many gains from Somaliland’s 2012 elections: with three political parties selected, Somaliland now has a clear road ahead into the next stage of its electoral cycle. The mission urges all stakeholders to continue to work to resolve difficulties using the methods of negotiation and reconciliation that have worked so well in the past in Somaliland.
While the IEO report is anxiously awaited the team of local observers led by Saferworld and the Somaliland Non State Actors Forum-SONSAF that had over 600 local observers in place during the 2012 local council elections released its initial report titled Somalilanders Speak in Nairobi on the 27th June 2013.
“Despite its status as an unrecognized country Somaliland has achieved immeasurable milestones through a relatively complex but home-grown set of political arrangements, providing concessions to and incorporating different interest groups” notes the Somalilanders Speak report.
At the Somalilanders Speak report launch at the British Institute in Eastern Africa; Nairobi Kenya where the future prospects for democracy and the lessons learned from the last electoral process was the focus of discussion the various stakeholders in attendance concurred that:
“Since it declared independence in 1991, Somaliland has worked to develop a system of multi-party democracy. The result is a relatively complex but home-grown set of political arrangements, providing concessions to and incorporating different interest groups”