Somalia’s 2016 election beset by delays and corruption woes
Somalia is expected to hold parliamentary and presidential elections at the federal level. The elections have been delayed twice: from Sept. 10th to Oct. 30th; and again, from Oct. 30th to Nov. 30th. Still, there is growing concern of more delays, as the process to nominate the 275-member Lower House of Federal Parliament has been beset with delays and corruption allegations.
The Federal Indirect Election Implementation Team (FIEIT) – aided by five Election Implementation Teams operating at the state level – is managing the 2016 election. A grouping of federal and state leaders, the National Leadership Forum, mandated the FIEIT and the Independent Electoral Disputes Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM) to steer the process of selecting 14,025 delegates to vote for 275 MPs of the Lower House in five state capitals.
Over ‘1,200 complaints’
The IEDRM has made regularly updated the Somali public about its activities, including Team members’ visits to Jubaland and Southwest states to look at progress in the electoral process, voting sites and gain a better understanding of existing challenges, according to a Somali-language press statement.
On October 31st, IEDRM Chairman Abdirizak Barre told Somali media that, since the Team commenced its work on October 6th, they received over 1,200 disputed claims: “We have received 1,219 disputes between 10 and 26 October 2016. Obviously, this is too much and not all of them fall within our mandate. Our mandate is only to deal with electoral disputes. We have no mandate over clan disputes”.
In a second press statement issued two days later, the FIEIT “express its concern about Traditional Elders’ interference complaints”, without speculating as two who was responsible for the alleged interference. The FIEIT claimed that it took disciplinary action and “revoked the candidacy of an individual seeking a parliament seat who attacked others”.
‘Allegations of corruption and intimidation’
In a joint press statement, issued on October 30th, the international community expressed its concern “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”.
The statement seemed to echo the position of the FIEIT and the IEDRM committees, who have complained about interference in the electoral process and the harassment of candidates and delegates.
The statement said that “the Code of Conduct for Parliamentary and Presidential candidates must be upheld” and reiterated the international community’s “clear commitment to supporting a fair and credible electoral process”.
Further, the statement affirmed that the “ultimate responsibility to ensure that every third seat allocated to any clan is reserved for women” lies with the state administrations and the State-level Indirect Election Implementation Teams (SIEIT). Additionally, the statement stressed that the state presidents shoulder this this important responsibility, which “requires a sustained personal presence in the respective regional capitals”.