Exclusive Interview -Horndiplomat’s Mohamed Duale and Khadar Mariano conducts an interview with Conrad Heine, Media Coordinator, International Election Observation Mission to Somaliland Presidential Election. Conrad discusses observation mission, selection process of the international observing members. Below are the excerpts of the Interview.
Horndiplomat: Could you please introduce your team and your observation mission?
International Observers: The international election observation mission (EOM) has been invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) and is funded by the British government. The EOM will conduct its observation activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, emphasising the impartiality and independence of that observation.
The EOM is led by the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London (UCL), and Somaliland Focus UK. This EOM marks the fourth election in Somaliland observed and reported on by DPU and Somaliland Focus since 2005.
Horndiplomat: how many international observers are working in this observing Mission and where from?
International Observers: 60 observers from 27 countries including: Argentina,Austria,Brazil,Canada,Denmark,Egypt,Ethiopia,Finland,Germany,Ireland,ItalyMalaysia,Netherlands,New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa,Spain,Uganda,UK,USA,Sweden,Switzerland,Zambia,Kenya,Estonia,Sudan
Horndiplomat: What is the selection process of the international observing members?
International Observers: The observers were selected by a process advertised openly around relevant organisations and networks, and via social media. Observers have been selected with a mix of election observation experience, Somaliland experience, and other relevant skills, with a good balance in terms of countries of origin and gender.
Horndiplomat: There are 1,642 polling stations across the country and the international observers are only 60 in number, how are planning to reach the polling stations?
International Observers :We have observers in all six regions. We hope to cover as many polling stations as possible with our 30 teams (of two observers each team), including rural areas, but will obviously need to strike a balance – it would be a poor use of time to spend hours driving to a single rural polling station when we could otherwise observe several closer to a town. The observation is a snapshot, not an exhaustive and complete exercise.
Horndiplomat: You have been here for the last two or three elections of Somaliland what was the experience and outcome of those elections?
International Observers :I have observed three elections before this personally – 2005, 2010, 2012. The outcomes of those observations are here in the official reports:
Horndiplomat: Do you favor to having new observers in each election of the vice versa?
International Observers : We have people in this mission who have observed before in Somaliland, and many who have not. It is great to have continuity, but also very good to have new skills on board and fresh perspectives. All team members have something valuable to offer the observation.
Horndiplomat: How does the observation task is carried about; Pre-election, during the election, Post-election?
International Observers : There is much detail, but broadly, the core team comes to observe the campaign, meet stakeholders etc, and develop techniques for the observation. Then the main team arrives for orientation and training before polling day itself and is deployed to the various regions. They observe and report back to the core team who compile the reports and reach conclusions in stages – after polling day, the aftermath, reaching of results, reaction to results, etc.
Horndiplomat: How are the assessments made?
International Observers : The observers fill out forms developed for this observation process and report back – assessments are made by a complex and detailed methodology by the core team. There is too much detail to describe more than briefly, but I think safe to say it is a rigorous process.
Horndiplomat: What are your views on the legislative electoral process?
International Observers : We cannot comment on this at this stage – as we are observing the process of the election as a whole. We are strictly impartial and such views are for our final report.
Horndiplomat: The shortcomings pinpointed by the observers during the last election included attempts at double voting. Do you see the registration of voters as a prerequisite for voting?
International Observers : We are yet to judge and have to see how it works on polling day, but can certainly say that the voter registration process is an attempt to address some of the problems of past polls. See the official report on the registration process below, which is co-authored by the mission chief, Dr Michael Walls:
Horndiplomat: With who does the observing mission cooperate?
International Observers : In Somaliland we are helped by many stakeholders – civil society, media, security, etc – as we plan our mission and inform ourselves. Our official invitation is from the National Electoral Commission and they accredit observers – but it must be stressed our finding are independent of NEC and any of Somaliland’s authorities. Our impartiality and independence is fundamental to our mission.
Horndiplomat: When will the finalized report publish?
International Observers : The final report should publish by mid-2018, all going well and to plan.
Horndiplomat: What is your finale message to Somaliland Political Parties, Electoral Commission, People of Somaliland and International Community?
International Observers : I can only speak personally here, and to Somaliland in general. I say to Somaliland: enjoy this process, and make it a peaceful and positive one. Somaliland has taken great democratic steps and I hope this will continue. I am always pleased to be in Somaliland and I consider it an honour to be invited to serve on the observation team.
BY: Mohamed Duale Chief Editor of Horndiplomat & Khadar Mariano Deputy Editor of Horndiplomat
© 2017 HORNDIPLOMAT MEDIA NETWORK