By: Latifa Yusuf Masai
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Somaliland Journalists Association-SOLJA has applauded local media conduct during local council elections.
SOLJA which informed that the Four TV stations of SLNT, HCTV, SPACE CHANNEL
TV and BULSHOTV and RADIO Hargeisa as well as 13 news papers and a number of websites
SOLJA has been monitoring how and if local media houses reported on local council elections as pertains to impartiality and utilization of journalistic ethics through the Media Monitoring Unit it established upon entering into a contract with the national election Commission-NEC
In a press statement the SOLJA Media Monitoring Unit gave details of its observations during the one month of its operations
Below are excerpts of the statement which was signed by the head Media Monitoring Unit Mr Hasan Saeed Hayd
Following an agreement entered between SOLJA, NEC and the ministry of Information a media monitoring Unit with the mandate to monitor adherence to election reporting ethics agreed upon by the three signatories.
The NEC announced 28th Nov as the day slated for the second local council elections to be held in the Country where seven political contesting were allocated a day each of campaigning nationwide for three weeks.
SOLJA which had the responsibility of monitoring if local media reports ethically and impartial during the local council elections established a media monitoring unit with the mandate to ensure see to it that all local media treat all contesting parties and candidates impartially.
The following is a preliminary report of the media monitoring unit as pertains to media houses conduct, contesting political parties, foreign amd local observers as well as from neighbouring countries.
The four weeks electioneering campaign went smoothly as planned with all media houses maintaining ethics as well as the seven political party supporters, leadership and candidates undertaking campaigns peacefully.
There was a significant increase in the number of media houses operating during this election as compared to previous 12 privately owned and 1 state owned newspaper eleven of them dailies while seven were English weeklies. On the six television stations reporting on the elections only 2 were local thus only available in Burao, Hargeisa and Borame while the rest were on satellite thus available worldwide. Only one radio station exists in the country, the state owned Radio Hargeisa which managed to provide election reports worldwide for the first time after recent installation of a new transmitter. During the entire electioneering period not a single complaint about un-ethically reporting was received from any quarter
There were 55 international election observers-IEO from 18 countries and 700 local observers who managed to establish a presence in all the twenty one districts where elections took place nationwide. Most impressive was the presence for the first time of a number of observers from Puntland and Somalia who were in the country to acquire much needed tips on election management.
Elections took place in 21 districts with Hudun and Buhodle participating in the election process for the first time.
There was a total of 2368 candidates vying for 353 local council seats nationwide
There were 1692 polling centres within the 21 local councils in the country.
This election saw 172 women participate in the elections as candidates which are the highest number ever.
2. Women Candidates
At 172 candidates this is the first time for women to have a large number of their lot contesting any elections in the country. With this high number it is anticipated that a fair portion will be elected thus a sizeable representation.
3. Election Irregularities
A number of irregularities were observed from day one of the campaigning, and brought to the attention of NEC by its Election Ethics Committee.
• The Ethics committee accused a number of high ranking government officials of not only actively participating in electioneering for the ruling Kulmiye party but utilizing public property in the process. Despite the appeal by NEC to the president no action was taken against those named as having contravened a presidential decree that pertained to civil servants abstention in electioneering.
• SOLJA Monitoring unit also observed various candidates transporting teenage voters to rural areas where they were housed and fed pending the polling day. This massive movement of people is directly related to the increase in road accidents.
• Another major irregularity ensued as a result of candidates resigning from the race at the last minute. Sponsoring parties attributed this anomaly to coercion by the ruling party.
International election observers declared the local council elections as having been undertaken in a free and fair manner devoid of any disputes.
The only dispute pertaining to the distribution of polling centres in some regions was solved amicably thus a further attestation of proven reconciliation process.
Hassan Saeed Hayd
Media Monitoring Unit
Somaliland Journalist Association-SOLJA