Date: 14th January 2015
Position Paper on Issues of Voter Registration and the Electoral Systems:
On December 14 2014, SONSAF Civil Society Democratization Working Group organized a
one day forum meeting for the key civil society, non-state actors and institutions to discuss both
the preparations for voter registration and the overall preparations for the planned 2015 elections.
The participants affirmed their commitment to advocate for an inclusive, transparent and
accountable electoral model that can facilitate timely, peaceful, free and fair elections.
As the mandate of the President expires in June 2015 and the House of Representatives in July
2015 participants discussed key issues related to the electoral cycle management including the
roles and responsibilities of the election stakeholders including National Electoral Commission
(NEC), Government, Parliament, Political Parties, International Community, civil society, media,
judiciary and other relevant actors.
Participants recommended to the NEC to draw a comprehensive and participatory elections
roadmap that takes into consideration the lessons learned from Somaliland’s past experiences,
including the electoral shortcomings related to the voter registration in 2008 that prompted the
postponement of the election and created the damaging political deadlocks in the period of
2008- 2009. This is an important lesson and reminds Somaliland that there are still many gaps in
the country’s electoral system. It is important that Somaliland takes steps to prevent any such
electoral disputes through inclusive and political consensus prior to approaching deadlines of the
Participants recognized that meaningful and active participation of civil society in elections,
including on civic and voter education and the monitoring and observation of processes can
accelerate and ensure the achievement of an electoral process that is more effective, convincing,
transparent and institutionalized in an appropriate manner.
Since early 2014, civil society has been active in facilitating negotiations for the collective
recognition of the dual-track process of voter and civil registration as well as supporting the 2
House of Elders (Guurti) to end the recurrent conflict in the House of Representatives. In this
process, Somaliland civil society and non-state actors have demonstrated their capacity to help
create and promote a liberal and enabling electoral environment in the country.
Civil society is looking forward to successful elections in Somaliland with sufficient technical
preparations, timely awareness raising including proper and effective civic and voter registration,
and the adherence to political commitments
To the National Electoral Commission:
Develop, draw and finalize a Somaliland Elections 2015 Roadmap through inclusive,
participatory and proper assessment of all relevant issues. This should prioritize
reconciliation and consensus building conduct a reliable, transparent and consistent voter
registration, building on lessons from past challenges and errors that included fraud,
irregularities, and double registration where multiple cards were issued. Voter
registration facilities must be pre-tested and their quality assured.
CSOs is also recommending to NEC to examine adequately the possibilities of
combination and separation of the elections particularly during the study of the roadmap,
CSOs believe that this is one of the critical aspect of the election cycle management and
drawing the roadmap.
Recruit and train sufficient electoral staff in a timely manner. The civil society
experiences on observation and monitoring of the previous elections indicate that
sufficient electoral staff training and proper electoral staff selection are needed across
particularly the polling staff managers. Factors that include, age and qualifications need
to be carefully considered during the recruitment process.
Establish an effective, consistent and intact Election Data Management System. This
should be an integral part of the electoral capacity and strategy for mitigating electoral
disputes. This will be vital in peacefully resolving electoral disputes and avoiding
violence such as that experience during the 2012 elections which led to the death and
injury of several people.
Remap the election and voter registration polling centers. Fixing and mapping voter and
election centers are one of the important key ingredients of the electoral process.
Effective transport and security measures of the election staff deployment should be
incorporated throughout the remapping plan.
Ensure transparent and competitive bidding processes for all tenders, both local and
Encourage a participatory electoral environment in which all election stakeholders are
considered and whereby their views, recommendations and complaints are noted and
documented and addressed. The capacity, neutrality and long term electoral experiences
of civil society should be utilized and recognized throughout electoral process.
Develop and maintain a consistent electoral and institutional development strategy. A
fully functioning secretariat and opening regular offices of the NEC in the regions can be
one way to pursue structured and meaningful electoral and institutional development in
the long term.
To the Government of Somaliland:
Reiterate the government’s commitment to holding timely elections, in accordance with
the anticipated NEC election roadmap.
Ensure their responsibilities for the preparation of elections are completed on time. This
should include providing its portion of the election funding, ensuring the provision of
security, and facilitating district boundary demarcation, creating an environment of free
competition, promoting the equal use of the state media across political parties,
respecting the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and legitimate campaigning
of all parties competing in the elections.
To the Political Parties:
Follow and respect provisions of the electoral laws, signed codes of conduct, election
procedures and campaigning discipline measures in order to prevent any electoral
violence and unwanted political behaviors that could distort the smooth campaigning and
peaceful and democratic elections.
Participate in the development of, and comply with, the elections roadmap that NEC
There should be an opportunity for the political parties who are the epicenter for the
election stakeholders to think vigilantly and precisely about whether the two elections are
to be combined or to pursue separate series process. This is because the political actors
need sufficient critical analysis on the issues of electoral, political, economic and social
factors that are needed to be taken into account before the decision of the combination or
separation to take place.
Conduct all political activities and campaigning peacefully in respect of the peace,
security, stability and solidarity of the nation and in accordance with the law. The
political parties must avoid any expressions that can create both social and political4
tensions. In other words, refraining from such language is obligatory across political
actors both ruling party and opposition parties.
Conducting timely parties’ general assembly and development of the party national
campaigning agenda are all necessary to pursue.
To the Parliament:
Pass all remaining electoral laws as a matter of urgency in a participatory manner and
lessons learning from previous election cycles. Priority should be given to amending the
House of Representative Election Law. All efforts should be taken to avoid the deadlock
experienced in 2005 when the law was first passed.
Ensure there is an effective judicial election dispute arbitration mechanism in place
before the election. This is crucial for both the effectiveness of the election management
and dealing with election conflicts and the ambiguities that can arise.
Ensure that the women’s quota is enshrined in law and is implemented in the 2015
elections. This should be included in the House of Representatives Election Law.
To the Judiciary:
Effective and capable electoral judicial system is essential in order to constantly manage
election disputes and complaints. In the past, the civil society observed that judicial
electoral mechanisms are weak and need to be strengthened both at the district and
Introduce a tracking system for election disputes and recurrent cases experienced in all
Arbitrate all electoral disputes in an open and transparent manner, recognizing that the
judiciary should operate as an independent institution as the constitution directs.
To the Civil Society and Non-State Actors:
Conduct holistic civic education campaigns through effective and adequate outreach
programs on the basis of the voter registration activities following elections.
Reorganize a civil society election monitoring forum following the domestic election
observers. The CSOs had ample experiences on the election monitoring and observation
interventions and in last two elections the CSOs of Somaliland succeeded in deploying a
huge number of domestic election observers across polling centers where they reported
and evaluated election events around 65%. 5
CSOs must be proactive throughout the election cycle and take some concrete measures
in the course of the pre- election, during the election and post- election periods,
including reconciling disputes, promoting freedom of expression, free contest, and
creating electoral conducive environment based on mutual respect and compliance with
the legal framework.
To the International Community:
Speed up the process of funding, technical and logistics support of the elections
Help NEC to develop sound and comprehensive strategic plans for both the 2015
elections and its long term institutional development.
Support civil society efforts on issues of electoral process and overall election monitoring
activities including constituting a civil society election monitoring forum, domestic
election observers and civic and voter education.
To the Media sector:
Conduct fair and objective reporting- this applies to both the public and private media.
Abide by their signed code of conduct and refrain from any propaganda that can distort
the election process, peace and stability.
Contribute to and participate in public education activities on issues of civic and voter
Civil Society Democratization Working Group and other relevant institutions participated
this Forum about elections held on December 14, 2014
- Human Rights Centre
- UCID Party
- WADANI Party
- Kulmiye Party