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. The 50-strong team from 20 countries was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to observe voting on and before polling day, November 28th 2012. Six months on, the public release of the mission report notes that once again, Somalilanders displayed their dedication to the unique democratic spirit they have crafted from their challenging history.
In particular, 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 definitive information on which political actors gained the greatest advantage is lacking, there is 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.
Perceived unfairness gave rise to post-poll tensions in several regions and protests resulting in a number of deaths. While this real and substantial threat to peace and stability has been resolved to a degree by political leaders urging calm upon their supporters, deep rifts remain and have assumed clan as well as political dimensions, with the potential to damage Somaliland’s democratisation.
Full Article: Somaliland: Swerves on the Road.