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Somalia - 2016 Elections

Somalia’s presidential elections were originally scheduled for 30 November 2016, but the head of Somalia’s electoral body announced 01 December 2016 they will be postponed. On 09 December 2016 Somalia political leaders said they had agreed to hold the presidential poll on 28 December 2016 and expected a new parliament to elect a speaker on 22 December. In the country’s complicated election system, clan and regional delegates elected roughly 50 percent of the members of the lower and upper houses of parliament.

The presidential election cannot take place until the remaining parliament members are selected. So it would take some more time before lawmakers determined Somalia’s next president, as specified in the Provisional Federal Constitution. Some observers fear the elections will produce a corrupt regime, and will produce more fragmentation of Somalia than the 2012 election or the ones prior to that.

In the country’s electoral process, about 14,000 delegates representing Somalia’s clans are electing members to the 275-member lower house of parliament. Regional parliaments are selecting the 54-member upper house of parliament. The two houses elect the president. Somalia does not yet have a one-person, one-vote electoral system, though many citizens and experts hope that can be achieved in the near future.

Somali leaders agreed on the format of the electoral process scheduled for August 2016. On 28 January, after several weeks of consultations with regional stakeholders had failed to reach a consensus, the Federal Government of Somalia announced an executive decision whereby a 275-member lower house would be elected by broad-based electoral colleges rather than being chosen only by clan elders, as in 2012.

The seats would still be allocated to clans on the basis of the 4.5 clan power-sharing formula. Meanwhile, an upper house would be created with 48 seats divided equally among the six federal states, plus three additional seats each for Somaliland and Puntland. A total of 30 per cent of electoral college seats and of the seats in both houses of the Federal Parliament would be reserved for women.

The decision of the Federal Government was accepted by the Jubba, South- West and Galmudug Interim Administrations as a necessary step to renew the mandate of the federal institutions and as a bridge to universal el ections in 2020. However, the Government of Puntland expressed strong opposition to the use of the 4.5 formula, which many Puntlanders believe disadvantages their majority clan. An agreement reached with the Federal Government in Garoowe on 3 April facilitated the acceptance by Puntland of the electoral process.

Somali leaders met for a three-day conference in Mogadishu, where they consented to holding a general election later in 2016. During the conference that ended on 14 April 2016, regional states and the central government officials reiterated their commitment to a no extension of the terms of the legislative and the Federal Government beyond August 2016. The presidents of the semi-autonomous states of Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest and Jubaland also took part in the conference, where they also agreed on an electoral process for a parliament composed of Upper and Lower houses.

Somalia would go to the polls in August to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, the country’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on 02 May 2016. Mohamud, in power since 2012, is in the final months of his four-year term, but he announced that he will seek reelection.

On August 07, 2016 Somalia officially released new poll dates for the 2016 elections. In a statement, Omar Mohamed Abdulle, chairman of the Somalia’s election commission announced that the country’s 2016 presidential election will take place on October 30. The commission said the election of 275-member Lower House will be from September 24 to October 10 while the election of Upper House should be completed by September 25. More than 14,000 delegates representing Somalia clans cast their votes for members of the Lower House, while the regional states will select the members of the Upper House.

There will be a new federal parliament, consisting of an upper and lower house. State assemblies will elect the 54 members of the upper house. The lower house will consist of 275 members, elected by 14,025 delegates selected by 135 clan elders. Voting for the lower house was scheduled to start 23 October 2016. Both houses would then elect Somalia's president on November 30.

On 30 October 2016 the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States expressed deep concerned over continuing allegations of corruption in Somalia’s electoral process and reports of recurring intimidation of prospective candidates for parliament, electoral college delegates and election officials. More efforts are needed to fight corruption and promote transparency, and candidates who have been harassed or intimidated are encouraged to lodge complaints with the Independent Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism. International partners noted that the state of preparedness varies among regional states. A few states are almost ready to start the voting. However, elders in other states are yet to complete the selection of delegates for the electoral colleges that will elect the members of the Lower House and, furthermore, have not reserved the mandatory number of seats for women in keeping with the established rules.

Somalia's ongoing parliamentary elections have no credibility becauses of vote buying, fraud, intimidation and violence, the country's auditor general said in an exclusive interview with VOA Somali 20 November 2016. Nur Jimale Farah said Electoral College delegates, who are electing members of parliament, are voting for the highest bidder. "Some votes were bought with $5,000, some with $10,000, and some with $20,000 or $30,000. But not all seats are equal. Some are influential seats and have a lot of candidates competing for them," he said. He said two seats cost their respective winners $1.3 million each. He said his office recorded that one of the seats was won in Galmudug and the other in Hirshabelle.

More than 14,000 Electoral College delegates were voting for the 275-member Lower House of parliament, and fewer than half of the members had been selected. Regional parliaments were also electing the 54-member Upper House, where 80 percent of the seats had been filled. some candidates, among them business leaders and well-known individuals, believe getting into the parliament will give them immunity and protection. They are using the seats as a sanctuary. Several former warlords with a history of violence were also elected to the two houses of parliament.

The panel that rules on election disputes in Somalia on 15 December 2016 rejected the results in races for 11 seats in recent parliamentary elections because of numerous irregularities, including gunfire at a polling place. The decision by the Independent Electoral Disputes Resolution Mechanism is likely to further complicate Somalia's attempt to hold a presidential election by the end of the year.

The United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States closely followed the work of the Independent Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM) in light of the many reports of serious irregularities during the electoral process, including bribery, intimidation, kidnappings, manipulation of delegate lists and failure to comply with the mandatory requirement to reserve every third seat for women candidates. International partners emphasized 23 December 2016 to the National Leadership Forum (NLF) and the IEDRM that, in their view, the gravity of the irregularities uncovered should be the basis for determining the electoral results that have to be nullified and re-contested.

The Somali presidential election was postponed for the fifth time 25 December 2016 following series of delays to conclude the parliamentary elections in regional states. Somalis expressed concerns to the corruption, intimidation and malpractices conducted in the electoral process, which undermine the credibility of the presidential election that is rescheduled to 24 January 2017.

Differences over the selection of the parliamentarians for Somaliland undermined crucial steps to conclude the electoral process by the end of December 2016. Politicians and elders from Somaliland community issued a statement demanding 33-percent quota in the upcoming Upper House chamber of the Federal Parliament, with reference to power-sharing accord between northern and southern Somalia back in 1960.

The plight of millions of Somalis is a calamity and an indictment. The vast majority continue to suffer abject poverty, displacement, insecurity, and predatory corruption, with little rule of law or respect for human rights. Somali resilience is legendary. But even the most resilient may buckle in the end. In all conscience Somalia’s leaders and international partners need to do more rather than less. Many are hoping that next level includes nationwide one-person, one-vote elections by 2020.

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Page last modified: 26-12-2016 19:39:30 ZULU