By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – “We the international election observer Mission to Somaliland 2017 are not here to pass judgment on any political party or campaign or election process but to solely observe and report on the presidential elections to be held on the 13th November 2017 “
This was informed by the EOM media coordinator Conrad Heine during a briefing to somalilandsun and The Horn Tribune in Hargeisa where he also revealed that the mission which is entirely funded by the British government’s Foreign and commonwealth office-FCO is the biggest to serve in the country so far.
According to Mr Heine, himself a veteran of observing elections in Somaliland the current mission which is composed of 60 members and led by another veteran t the country Michael Walls is in the country courtesy of invitation by the National Elections Commission-NEC
On the selection process of the international observer, it was informed that a number of conditions was preset chief among them being Experience in elections observation, knowledge of Somaliland, Gender as well geographical that is nationality.
“In the team are not only experienced election observers some of whom are coming directly from the recent exercise in Kenya but familiar faces who have been in past missions here in Somaliland stretching as far back as 2005, 2010 and 2012” said the EOM media coordinator adding that “The need for an experienced and balanced team of observers emanates from the strides Somaliland has made as country and more as pertains to elections
Stressing on the fact that the mission 2017 has solely the one objective of observing and subsequent reporting Conrad Heine stated that the international observers can be expected to perform their duties through “Impartiality being completely non partisan as pertains affiliation to any political party in the country”
As per the absence of ethnic Somalis in the international observation mission to Somaliland presidential elections 2017, the EOM spokesperson said that though earlier missions had members of local origin now based in the Diaspora, their absence this time round is as a request of requests made by NEC
Said he, “Our recruitment process was open to all but from requests from our hosts we had to eliminate ethnic Somalis, adding that this was not a reflection on their performance which has in the past been apt.
Though the EOM 2017 has few bleak areas pending final clarification it intends to cover the entire country without bias while most activities shall be centred in main urban areas owing to logistics that deter access to many polling stations in rural areas which is contrary to that in the towns where many places can be visited and served within a short span of time.
On his role as media coordinator Conrad Heine said that the purpose is geared towards ensuring that local journalists are availed apt EOM information with ease “Since past missions were more interested in addressing foreign media houses
“Rather than past norms of issuing press statements we have established mechanism for direct contact with local media” says Conrad adding that “in pursuit of this we have created a facebook page in addition to our 2012 twitter account. https://www.facebook.com/EOMSomaliland2017/
In conclusion Conrad Heine stated that “The EOM will conduct its observation activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, emphasising the impartiality of that observation.
This EOM marks the fourth election in Somaliland observed and reported on by DPU and Somaliland Focus since 2005. As the third presidential election (following the polls in 2003 and 2010), it is the first poll to use a new voter registration system, which itself marks the first use of iris-scan biometric technology in an African election. The election was delayed by devastating droughts in 2016 and 2017, and comes at a time when Somaliland is attracting significant infrastructure investment from the Middle East and alongside Somalia’s own efforts to rebuild its shattered political system. The EOM is particularly hopeful that the implementation of the voter registration system will address issues that have marred previous elections, and looks forward to commencing its mission.
For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the
coordination team, please contact Conrad Heine (EOM media coordinator) on
+252 (0)63 486 5255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 60 international observers to the Somaliland presidential elections 2017 are drawn from 24 countries, including: