INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY EXPRESSES GRAVE CONCERNS OVER CORRUPTION AND INTIMIDATION IN SOMALIA’S ELECTORAL PROCESS AND DELAYS IN VOTING FOR LOWER HOUSE SEATS
The United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Ethiopia, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States are deeply 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.
International partners are also disappointed by the delay in the voting for the Lower House of the Somali Federal Parliament, which was scheduled to start on 23 October according to the revised timeline set out by the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT).
The international community strongly urges all key stakeholders to take urgent steps to preserve the credibility of the country’s electoral process, which should not provide space for manipulation and disruption by spoilers.
As stipulated in the communiqué issued by the National Leadership Forum (NLF) on 14 September 2016, commitments contained in the Code of Conduct for Parliamentary and Presidential candidates must be upheld. These include refraining from any behavior that contributes to coercion, intimidation and harassment of individuals and the manipulation or corruption of the electoral process.
International partners reiterate their clear commitment to supporting a fair and credible electoral process. 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 have 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.
The international partners wish to remind the regional state administrations and the State-Level Indirect Electoral Implementation Teams (SIEITs) that, where the elders fail to do so, it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that every third seat allocated to any clan is reserved for women, as stipulated in the NLF communiqué of last month.
The Presidents of the existing and emerging federal member states should also play the key role expected of them in assisting the elders to resolve the intra-clan disputes that are impeding the finalization of Lower House seat allocation and the selection of delegates. This important responsibility requires a sustained personal presence in the respective regional capitals.
The international partners call upon these leaders and the SIEITS to devote the necessary attention to the urgent finalization of these outstanding aspects of the preparation of the voting for the Lower House of Parliament.
”The electoral process is reaching a pivotal moment. Somalis have an opportunity to prove to themselves that they can bring about peaceful and legitimate political change,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating. “Success will allow Somalia to enter a new phase in its history and deliver tangible benefits for all her citizens. But continued delays in the voting and reports of corruption and intimidation are now raising serious questions about the integrity and credibility of the process. Immediate and effective steps must be taken by relevant political and security authorities to end the intimidation and harassment of prospective candidates, delegates and election officials and to halt attempts to buy votes through bribery. And preparations for the voting on Lower House seats must be expedited. There is no time to lose”.