News

This page contains links to Somaliland Focus press releases and other media coverage of the 2012 Somaliland elections.

For reports, papers and briefing notes relating to the elections, please see our reports page. To see blogs written by individual election observers, please see our 2012 election blog.

To read the Voice of America reports of the election observation (and listen to audio), click here and here.

Current press releases

June 11th 2013 – International election observation mission to Somaliland’s local council elections, assembled by Progressio, University College London and Somaliland Focus (UK), launches final report highlighting the “swerves on the road” as Somaliland continues to drive its developing democracy forward

The 50-strong team from 20 countries was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to observe voting on and before polling day, November 28th 2012. Six months on, the public release of the mission report notes that once again, Somalilanders displayed their dedication to the unique democratic spirit they have crafted from their challenging history.

In particular, there was real progress in inclusion of youth and women: the election of 10 female candidates represents a huge step forward. Yet concerns expressed immediately following polling day—especially over observers’ reports of widespread attempts at multiple and underage voting—remain real.

While definitive information on which political actors gained the greatest advantage is lacking, there is sufficient evidence to state that successful attempts at multiple voting occurred at very significant levels. Thus, although the report declares the election process reasonably free and credible, it must fall short of describing it as fair.

Perceived unfairness gave rise to post-poll tensions in several regions and protests resulting in a number of deaths. While this real and substantial threat to peace and stability has been resolved to a degree by political leaders urging calm upon their supporters, deep rifts remain and have assumed clan as well as political dimensions, with the potential to damageSomaliland’s democratisation.

Thus, the report repeats the recommendation made immediately following polling day: thatSomalilandmust urgently adopt a robust system of voter registration, so that future elections can be approached effectively and with confidence.

Yet, despite the reservations and some genuine grievances, there were many gains from Somaliland’s 2012 elections: with three political parties selected,Somalilandnow has a clear road ahead into the next stage of its electoral cycle. The mission urges all stakeholders to continue to work to resolve difficulties using the methods of negotiation and reconciliation that have worked so well in the past inSomaliland.

Progressio’s Dr Steve Kibble, the mission’s joint co-ordinator, said: “the road to democracy is never easy. Our report is we hope a fair reflection of the process with its ‘swerves’ as well as its forward strides. We look to further engagement with the people ofSomalilandin all the facets of building a stable, progressive democracy that reflects the views and aspirations of all citizens.”

Dr Michael Walls of UCL added: “these elections underline the remarkable achievement ofSomalilandin institutionalising a system of multi-party democracy that incorporates elements of Somali customary system, while also highlighting the critical challenges ahead. How Somalilanders respond will have implications far beyond the borders ofSomalilandor the Somali Horn. We applaud the progress to date, while urging the people ofSomalilandto continue to support a process which will remain challenging.”

 

“Swerves On The Road” will be launched at University College London, Room G03, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP at 5:30pm on June 11th 2013. A panel discussion featuring Dr Gabrielle Lynch (University of Warwick), Richard Dowden (Royal African Society), Ayan Mahamoud (Kayd Somali Arts and Culture) and Dr Michael Walls (University College London) will be followed by a reception and a photographic exhibition by Kate Stanworth, the mission’s photographer. Further launch events in Somaliland in June and in August as part of the Hargeisa Book Fair will follow.

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the coordination team, please contact Conrad Heine on +44 7870 642 852 / media@somalilandfocus.org.uk, or in London Lucy Jenkinson on 020 7326 2011 / lucyj@progressio.org.uk. Photographs are also available.
  2. Somaliland declared unilateral independence fromSomaliain 1991 following the collapse ofSomalia’s government. It remains internationally unrecognised.
  3. A team of 50 observers from 20 countries was assembled by Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London and Somaliland Focus (UK) to observe Somaliland’s local elections on November 28th 2012. The mission follows on from observations of Somaliland’s inaugural local elections in 2002, followed by the parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as “basically free and fair”, and the presidential election in 2010http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/default/files/Somaliland-elections-2010-report.pdf , which saw an orderly transfer of power and was judged “a peaceful expression of popular will”.
  4. The 2012 mission covered almost 20% of more than 1,700 polling stations in 15 of the 21 districts acrossSomalilandin which voting took place.
  5. The mission was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), and funded byBritain’s Department for International Development (DFID). We presented a post-poll interim report to the NEC and donors following polling day in early December 2012.
  6. A pre-election assessment of the conditions for the local elections took place in 2012 and can be viewed here: http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/progressio.org.uk/files/Preparing-for-local-elections-Sld-2012.pdf
  7. For more information about Progressio, please see www.progressio.org.uk and about Somaliland Focus, see www.somalilandfocus.org.uk.

 

December 21st 2012 - Somaliland local elections: International Election Observers applaud commitment to democracy, but say action is required to ensure future election integrity.

With results finally confirmed in Somaliland’s local elections, held on November 28th 2012, the international election observation mission assembled by Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) congratulates the people ofSomaliland and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on a lively and enthusiastic election campaign and voting process.

However, in advance of writing our final report, to be released in mid-2013, we must also report a number of substantial concerns.

The election’s aftermath has been marked by a build-up of tension over the course of a slow counting process. Once results began to be released, the NEC came under extreme pressure over disputes to results from several sides, and was subjected to a shooting attack on its headquarters in the town ofErigavo. Regrettably, post-election protests saw a number of deaths in protests in Hargeisa,Somaliland’s capital.

Although the NEC has now moved to confirm results, and we have been heartened by various political leaders urging their supporters to maintain peace and security when protesting, we recognise that the post-election climate remains tense.

Our post-poll concerns follow those we expressed immediately following polling day, when we noted that observers reported attempts at multiple and underage voting and what appeared to be attempts to mobilise voters to engage in these attempts. While observers also noted polling station staff attempting to prevent such activity, such reports pose concerns for the integrity ofSomaliland’s electoral process.

Now, a month on from voting, it is important that disputes around the election outcome are peacefully settled. Without peaceful settlement of disputes,Somaliland’s admirable democratic tradition may be damaged. We urge all Somalilanders to respect the electoral laws and procedures, so that future elections can be approached effectively and with confidence.

Specifically, we repeat the recommendation we made immediately following polling day: in advance of the next elections, we call for Somaliland to adopt a robust system for voter/citizen registration, in order to improve confidence in the electoral process.

In closing, we would like to highlight the many positives around this election: once again, Somalilanders showed how dedicated they are to the unique democratic spirit they have crafted from their challenging history. In particular, we are delighted to note real progress in inclusion of youth and women in the process: the apparent election of ten female candidates represents a huge step forward, and we look forward to further progress on this front.

Dr Michael Walls, the mission’s joint co-ordinator, said “Somalilandhas made enormous progress in achieving a difficult transition to a form of representative democracy. We have long been impressed with that process, and call on all Somalilanders to maintain their commitment to a peaceful form of democratic and participatory decision-making.”

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the coordination team, please contact Conrad Heine on +44 7870 642 852 / media@somalilandfocus.org.uk, or Lucy Jenkinson on 020 7326 2011 / lucyj@progressio.org.uk , or Tim Aldred on 020 7326 2003 / +44 7740 543 047 / tim@progressio.org.uk.
  2. Somaliland declared unilateral independence fromSomaliain 1991 following the collapse ofSomalia’s government. It remains internationally unrecognised.
  3. A team of 50 observers from 17 countries was assembled by Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) to observe Somaliland’s local elections on November 28th 2012. The mission follows on from observations of Somaliland’s inaugural local elections in 2002, followed by the parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as “basically free and fair”, and the presidential election in 2010 http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/default/files/Somaliland-elections-2010-report.pdf , which saw an orderly transfer of power and was judged “a peaceful expression of popular will”.
  4. The 2012 mission covered almost 20% of more than 1,700 polling stations in 15 of the 21 districts acrossSomalilandin which voting took place.
  5. The mission was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), and funded byBritain’s Department for International Development (DFID). We presented a post-poll interim report to the NEC and donors, and a final report will follow in 2013.
  6. A pre-election assessment of the conditions for the local elections took place in 2012 and can be viewed here:  http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/progressio.org.uk/files/Preparing-for-local-elections-Sld-2012.pdf
  7. For more information about Progressio, please see www.progressio.org.uk and about Somaliland Focus, see www.somalilandfocus.org.uk.

December 3rd 2012 – International election observers congratulate Somaliland on a largely peaceful and transparent expression of democratic will in local elections—but concerned at weaknesses in safeguards against multiple voting

The team of 50 observers from 17 countries was assembled by Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) to observe Somaliland’s local council elections on November 28th, 2012. It follows similar missions to previous local and national level elections in 2002, 2005 and 2010.

The mission congratulates the people of Somaliland and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for efforts to conduct and participate in the elections, which saw 2,368 candidates contest 379 positions across Somaliland’s six regions.

With the tabulation of final results still underway, it is not yet appropriate to provide an overall assessment of the election. A small team will remain in Somaliland to observe post-poll processes, including the declaration of results and the work of the Registration and Approval Committee (RAC) in determining which three political parties go forward to contest national elections for the next decade.  A further statement will follow the declaration of results, and our final report will be published in mid-2013.

At this stage, we can cautiously report many positives. Election campaigning appears to have been competitive and pluralistic, with seven different parties and associations fielding candidates. Parties and associations generally respected the requirement to campaign on a specific day in the week, and to desist from public campaigning in the second and third weeks of the campaign.

With the lowering of the age of candidacy we welcome the unprecedented numbers of youth and women candidates. While in 2002 only five women contested local elections, approximately 140 did so in 2012. As for election day, most polling station procedures and staff were evaluated positively by observers. Where problems occurred, the NEC usually addressed them quickly and effectively.

However, we must also report some concerns.  The most serious problems stemmed from the absence of a voter registry and weaknesses in related safeguards–primarily the inadequacy of the indelible ink used on fingers of voters–made polling vulnerable to multiple voting. In advance of the next elections, we recommend that Somaliland adopt a robust system for voter/citizen registration, in order to deter fraud and improve confidence in the electoral process.

We are also concerned about the understanding of the parties and the electorate of the implementation of the formula in Law 14, Article 6, which will determine which of the contesting parties and associations become registered parties. While we welcome the agreement prior to the election to adopt a code of conduct in the interpretation of the law, we encourage both the NEC and the RAC to continue to work transparently in the district and regional tabulation process and declare results in a timely fashion.

Dr. Steve Kibble, the mission’s joint co-ordinator, said: “We will be putting forward to the NEC our proposals to address the concerns we have highlighted and look forward to continued fruitful cooperation with them. We will continue to track the electoral process and trust it reaches a speedy resolution that reflects the will of the Somaliland people.”

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the coordination team, please contact Conrad Heine on +252 2 486 5255 / media@somalilandfocus.org.uk, or in London Lucy Jenkinson on 020 7326 2011 / lucyj@progressio.org.uk , or Tim Aldred on 020 7326 2003 / tim@progressio.org.uk.
  2. Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia in 1991 following the collapse of Somalia’s government. It remains internationally unrecognised.
  3.  The joint mission follows on from similar missions to observe Somaliland’s inaugural local elections in 2002, followed by the parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as “basically free and fair”, and the presidential election in 2010 http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/default/files/Somaliland-elections-2010-report.pdf , which saw an orderly transfer of power and was judged “a peaceful expression of popular will”.
  4. The mission has been invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), and funded by Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID). It will follow up with a post-poll interim report to the NEC and donors, with the final report to follow in early 2013.
  5. A pre-election assessment of the conditions for the local elections took place in 2012 and can be viewed here:  http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/progressio.org.uk/files/Preparing-for-local-elections-Sld-2012.pdf
  6. For more information about Progressio, please see www.progressio.org.uk and about Somaliland Focus, see www.somalilandfocus.org.uk.

November 29th 2012 - First thoughts of international election observation team assembled by Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) for Somaliland’s local council elections on November 28th

The team of 50 observers from 18 countries observed voting at 20% of the more than 1,700 polling stations, visiting 15 of the 21 districts across the country where the election took place, and followed up by witnessing station counts through the evening. Team members are continuing to observe counting and tabulation ahead of final results.

The mission follows previous observations of elections inSomalilandin 2002, 2005 and 2010, which observers were able to judge free and fair. The 2010 presidential poll was especially notable for the peaceful and smooth transfer of power on the defeat of an incumbent.

This poll is especially significant in that it will shapeSomaliland’s political landscape by determining which three parties contest national elections for the next decade. With a fuller team assessment to come in early December, preliminary indications suggest that, despite some reports of violence, and no voting taking place in some disputed districts in the country’s east, Somaliland’s electorate has, once again, turned out with enthusiasm and in large numbers.

Particularly heartening has been wide participation by female voters, a boost in numbers of female candidates and, thanks to the lowering of the qualifying age, youthful candidates standing in significant numbers. However, at this interim stage, a few concerns have emerged, including, once again, apparent attempts at underage and multiple voting.

Observers have also reported excessive use of force by security forces outside polling stations in some areas; some poor organisation surrounding the electoral process, including delayed opening of polling stations; insufficient electoral materials; and technical problems with voter safeguards, such as the ink designed to prevent multiple voting.

Fuller consideration of these matters awaits our interim report. In the meantime, the team encouragesSomaliland’s National Electoral Commission to ensure a transparent and accurate tabulation process and declaration of final results. With the stakes so high, there is potential for post-poll disputes.

Steve Kibble, the mission’s joint co-ordinator, said: “We commend the National Electoral Commission for ensuring that voting has gone ahead on November 28th as scheduled. Now we look forward to a peaceful conclusion to the process.”

24 November 2012 – International election observation team assembled by Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) reports good progress towards Somaliland’s local council elections scheduled for November 28th 2012

 

The 55-strong team has assembled in the capital city of Hargeisa, ready to deploy to all six Somaliland regions, where voters will turn out at more than 1,700 polling stations on November 28th. The mission follows previous observations of elections in Somaliland in 2002, 2005 and 2010.

Once again, Somaliland’s wide diaspora has a strong presence in the team, which draws on 15 countries including Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

This year, for the first time, representatives from civil society organisations in Mogadishu in Somalia and Garowe in Puntland are accompanying the observer team to review the technical process of managing an election.

So far, the team has been pleased to observe lively and largely peaceful campaigning and a noticeable lack of serious tension. Discussions with civil society, local organisations and key players including Somaliland’s president have gone smoothly, underlining our sense of Somalilanders’ broad commitment to the political process.

The elections come at a significant stage in Somaliland’s political development, following on from the 2005 and 2010 polls, both of which observers were able to judge free and fair. The 2010 presidential poll was especially notable for the peaceful and smooth transfer of power on the defeat of an incumbent.

This year’s poll will determine the shape of Somaliland’s future political terrain. Seven different political groupings are competing, and results will determine which three political parties, as determined under Somaliland’s constitution, get to compete in national elections over the next decade. With the stakes so high, the potential for post-poll disputes is real.

However, the team is happy to note that Somalilanders’ abilities to resolve crises using long-established traditions of discourse and negotiation have been put to the test during the campaign, and proved effective. In the cities of Burao and Berbera, disputes over polling-station allocation threatened to undermine stability. These were successfully resolved.

Yet serious grounds for concern remain, with the rejection by one party of the electoral code of conduct on the eve of the poll. The team hopes this late development will not undermine the good work done so far. Dr Michael Walls of UCL, the mission’s joint co-ordinator, said “The code has been signed by all parties, and threats by any party or politician to unilaterally abandon seem to show little regard for the responsibilities of those making them. Complaints should be made through established channels. We call on all politicians to exercise their responsibilities with caution and to avoid threats or accusations that risk undermining Somaliland’s hard-won stability.”

Fellow joint co-ordinator Dr Steve Kibble of Progressio said “We are pleased to be in a peaceful environment where issues are resolved by negotiation and discussion and relevant institutions are working towards a free and fair election. We hope this situation continues.”

Previous Somaliland Focus press releases

Somaliland Focus joins Progressio and UCL’s Development Planning Unit to lead the international observation mission to Somaliland’s district and council elections scheduled for 28 November 2012. It is hoped that these elections will contribute to the ongoing building of a stable system of democracy in the Horn of Africa…

Somaliland will need to overcome several obstacles if it is to successfully hold local elections this year, according to a new report from Progressio…