Horndiplomat-Somaliland non state actors (SONSAF) released by Briefing paper 8 about card distributions of Somaliland regions in Marodijeh and togdheer .
On July 6th 2017, the National Electoral Commission of Somaliland (NEC) launched two events concurrently held in Hargeisa and Burco, the two capitals of the two regions of Maroodi- Jeeh and Togdheer. The objective of the two events was on the announcement of the distribution of Voter Cards in the two regions of Maroodi- Jeeh and Togdheer. The process of distribution of voting cards officially started both regions on 8thJuly 2017, for a period of 21 days.
Somaliland Non State Actors Forum (SONSAF) in collaboration with Somaliland Civil Society Election Forums (SCISEF) deployed and trained domestic observers in the regions of Togdheer and Maroodi-Jeeh to conduct SONSAF’s ongoing observation mission, so as to observe and report back on the distribution process of the voter cards in Togdheer and Maroodi- Jeeh regions. Domestic observers have reached and reported back 35% of the total voter cards distribution centers in both regions.
Moreover, domestic observers have observed the practice of the three national political parties in both regions and reported from both regions that two political parties of KULMIYE and WADDANI have breached the voter cards distribution code of conduct signed on April 23th 2017, and both KULMIYE and WADDANI have made premature campaign during the process of distribution of voting cards, which the code of conduct prohibited all forms of campaign during voter cards distribution process. The NEC voter cards distribution Monitoring Broad, the leadership of NEC and Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum (SCISEF) have reacted immediately and responded to the actions of KUMIYE and WADDANI particularly in the Togdheer region.
Furthermore, in these two regions, NEC has made some improvement both voter education and re-arrangement of the polling centers compared to the regions of Awdal and Sahil. Domestic observers confirmed that NEC deployed instructors across the polling centers reorganized and these instructors helped the queue how they can collect their voting cards following both alphabetical arrangement and reorganization of the most polling centers as NEC justified many times that these reorganization of the polling centers is a part of election management whereas the voters cannot tolerate such a long queue on the election day.
In the meantime, the voter and civic education process was low and not sufficient in the first round of the voter registration process and the second round of the voter cards distribution and in many occasions domestic observers have reported the need to improve the voter and civic education interventions, SONSAF’s briefing papers have recommended a number of steps and actions.
From this standpoint, on June 29th, 2017, NEC invited election stakeholders including three political parties, NEC Monitoring Broad, civil society groups working on voter education, international partners and domestic observers led by SONSAF. During the meeting it was discussed on how to improve the voter and civic education. All partners have shared relevant information and experiences whereas key challenges have been particularly discussed and some improvement was recognized in the second round of the voter education on voter cards distribution process in Maroodi-Jeeh and Togdheer regions.
It is notable to highlight that the second round of the voter cards distribution process was very peaceful and no incident was reported by the domestic observers and the NEC in general. These two regions represent with 56.1% of the voters registered. Domestic observers have also reported that the turnout was increased in these regions of Maroodi-Jeeh and Togdheer.However, it is undeniable that all regions either west or east share some difficult circumstances inherited from droughts, although the eastern regions are more vulnerable than the western regions.
In the Togdheer region, especially the Burco city, a confusion was reported, because of most people were holding national ID certificate and voter registration certificate that was simultaneously provided side by side during the voter registration process in the Togdheer region. Many people were arguing that when they arrive in the voter cards distribution centers, they thought to obtain both the national ID and voter cards but NEC was only responsible the voter cards distribution.
On the other hand, the observers have witnessed two registration lists valid and invalid and proved the rejection of the persons listed on the invalid list. Indeed, observing the voter cards distribution centers, the verifications of the registered voters that their names misplaced was a key issues and the Head Quarter Office of NEC was too busy to respond timely, but observers revealed that complain forms were available across the observed voter cards distribution centers.
Despite inadequate voter education, it cannot also be dismissed the socio-cultural, education and livelihood of the people, because many people mostly in the rural areas may not read and write and they are under difficult socio-economic conditions as incessant droughts is affecting severely.
Nonetheless, the voter cards distribution process was marred by the unnecessary and excessive political campaigns conducted by the two political parties of KULMIYE and WADDANI in both Togdheer and Maroodi-Jeeh regions. The officials of Justice and Welfare Party of UCID have expressed their concerns over the behaviors of KULMIYE and WADDANI and UCID party has submitted a written letter of complaint to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Therefore, on July 10th, 2017, the voter cards distribution Monitoring Broad has held a press conference and sent warning to the two political parties of KUMIYE and WADDANI by addressing how voter cards distribution code of conduct was violated by both parties. In addition, Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum (SCISEF) has made a press statement denouncing the actions of the two political parties of KULMIYE and WADDANI during the voter cards distribution process in Maroodi-Jeeh and Togdheer regions.
The CSOs recommended political parties to respect and abide by Presidential Election Law No.20/2001/2017, Voter Registration Law No.37/2007/2016 and voter cards distribution Code of Conduct. Lastly, NEC has officially condemned the two political parties with their illegal acts and infringement of the code of conduct and declared that political parties will be admitted only five vehicles during their visit to Sanaad and Sool regions on their participation of the voter cards distribution process planned to start on Aug 12th, 2017.
Finally, there are other developments such as the anticipated resignation of the speaker of the House of Representatives Mr. Abdirhaman Mohamed Abdillahi (Ciro) who announced his resignation on 2nd August 2017, as he is the chair of WADDANI political party and the presidential candidate of the WADDANI opposition party. In addition, the government of Somaliland has also paid the last installment of the election budget on 26 July 2017 and the NEC proved that they are technically and logistically prepared to undertake this presidential election on November 13th 2017.
The voter card distribution process in the two regions of Togdheer and Maroodi-Jeeh has been concluded on July 31st 2017. The process was generally successful and entirely peaceful. The end of the voter card distribution process in the two regions of Maroodi-Jeeh and Togdheer is another encouraging sign that the planned Presidential elections in November 13th, 2017 will be held on time with conducive and transparent manner. Moreover, civil society engagement in this electoral process is coordinated and prepared to continue such monitoring and deployment of the domestic observation missions of pre- election, Election Day and post – elections with emphasis of monitoring the electoral laws, code of conducts and national constitution.
- Sanaag and Sool regions need more emphasis both logistics and security arrangement, some areas are fragile as recent fighting between two sub-clans in Darar- weyne district of Sanaag region, there are other circumstances related to the recent droughts which entirely affected in these regions.
- Political parties must respect the presidential election law, regulations of voter registration, and voter cards distribution code of conduct and to adhere to the directives given by the NEC. It is necessary that the political parties to pursue and value the provisions of the law and code of conducts, as the schedule of the campaign will be disseminated with conformity of the law and election code of conduct.
- Election campaign code of conduct is also needed to be completed bearing mind the experiences and lessons learned from the past and recently political behaviors, more inclusive consultations are necessary to conduct before signing it.
BY :SOMALILAND NON STATE ACTORS (SONSAF)