Somaliland:CSO Position Paper on Issues of Voter Registration and the Electoral Systems:

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SONSAF22

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

elections timeline.

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

Recommendations:

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

international.3

 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

develops

 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

regional levels.

 Introduce a tracking system for election disputes and recurrent cases experienced in all

elections.

 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

registration. 6

Civil Society Democratization Working Group and other relevant institutions participated

this Forum about elections held on December 14, 2014

  1. APD
  2. NAGAAD
  3. SONYO
  4. HAVOYOCO
  5. UOH-IPCS
  6. FOPAG
  7. SORADI
  8. Anppican
  9. SOMRAN
  10. Human Rights Centre
  11. TASCO
  12. ASAL
  13. SOMLA
  14. SPS
  15. COMPACT
  16. UCID Party
  17. WADANI Party
  18. Kulmiye Party
  19. UNSOM
  20. EU

CSOs position paper Jan.2015.01.

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