By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – “We in Collaboration with various stakeholders are committed to assisting legislators complete the long awaited amendments to the country’s election laws as well as establish mechanisms for resolution of election conflicts by community based committees”
This was informed by the executive director of the Somaliland Non state Actors Forum-Sonsaf Mohamed Barawaani during a briefing to Somalilandsun at his Hargeisa offices where he elaborated on the ingredients under implementation geared towards fully transparent and free fair elections in which all segments of society are available a chair at various levels of decision making in the country.
“In collaboration with the parliamentary internal affairs and laws sub-committee and other stakeholders we have launched country wide public hearing consultations for the legal review completion of Somaliland House of Representatives election law” said Barawaani
The launch of the program by the Somaliland House of Representatives in collaboration with the Sonsaf and the Academy for Peace and Development (APD) was undertaken at the premises of the National Assembly in Hargeisa and shall run for 25 days in all regions of the country beginning from 27th February 2016.
According to the Sonsaf ED “Other activities to be undertaken by the Civil Societies and parliamentary internal affairs and laws sub-committee apart from completion of outstanding amendments to the election law include addressing the outstanding issues regarding proportional parliamentary seat allocations to the respective six official regions of the country and exploring the expansion of Opportunities for women and marginalized groups to participate in political and economic decision-making”
In Somaliland where only one woman sits at the 82 member elected House of Representatives cultural norms and social barriers prevent the active participation of women and disadvantaged groups in the decision making process at all levels.
After regional consultations are completed a local committee of around twenty members shall be put in place with responsibilities of election dispute resolutions at the regional level and including accompanying districts.
“After regional consultations are concluded a national symposium shall be held here in Hargeisa where an all inclusive participants panel shall be briefed on the outcome of regional consultations for subsequent recommendation “informed Mohamed Barawaani while revealing that the national event shall culminate with the establishment of a 100 member strong committee tasked with resolution of election disputes at the national level.
The Participatory Governance Program supported by the Danish government with the ultimate objective of consolidating basic governance institutions at the local and national levels is among the many programs under the management of Danida whose chief in Hargeisa Michael Thyge Paulsen termed during an earlier interview with Somalilandsun as IMPACTFUL more so the strong engagement of Local civil society in the democratization processes which has ensued with partnership with Sonsaf in the electoral process including the monitoring and observation of voter registration and elections at the regional and national levels through the Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum (SCISEF) it spearheads.
Queried on the practicalities of successful outcome of the just launched broad based program in lieu of the timeframe involved considering that the first elections to benefit are slated for late March 2017 the local non state actors top honcho was optimistic
“Despite the mentioned timeframe all concerned stakeholders are determined to the expedited and successful conclusion of the set targets” Said Barawani as he stressed that lessons learned from voter registrations in the two regions of Toghdeer and Awdal make timely completion imperative.
In its preliminary report on voter registration in Awdal Sonsaf which is leading a team of local observers informed that a designated polling centre in Hadayte Village then utilized as a voter registration site was temporarily taken over by unidentified gunmen resulting in the disruption of registration and injury to two residents.
This incident is linked to regional dispute over the areas that have no clear regional demarcation though the village which is under Lughaya district is not included in the disputed areas between the regions of Awdal, Maroodijeex and Sahil stressed the report.
According to Barawaani the National Election Commission is registering voters in some disputed areas following an agreement between the three national political parties and the Government of Somaliland while resolution is pending in-order to ensure residents are availed their constitutional rights to participate in election.
On the poignant issue relate to civic education which the local observers acknowledge lacking in both Toghdeer and Awdal region thus surely nationwide despite the huge amounts of both donor and government funs NEC claims to have utilize for the purpose the Sonsaf ED had this to say
“While we can confirm that inadequate voter education was prevalent in almost all the districts of Awdal region it is worth noting that citizens from various walks of life were observed taking the onerous task which I can herein vouch to be imparting relevant knowledge and information”
Copyright: Somalilandsun, 2016. www.somalilandsun.com