In Somalia: International community ‘gravely concerned’ over changes to electoral process

In Somalia: International community ‘gravely concerned’ over changes to electoral process

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses a news conference after attending the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

A joint statement issued on Tuesday described the decision as contravening the Rule of Law.

The UN, AU and other members of the international community have voiced grave concern over recent decisions by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum (NLF) that contravenes the country’s constitutional electoral processes.

The UN, AU, EU, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and the U.S., in a joint statement issued on Tuesday described the decision as contravening the Rule of Law.

Currently, Somali’s Provisional Constitution allows for 54 seats in the Upper House of its parliament.

Elections have already been held, but according to a communiqué issued on Dec. 24, the NLF has decided to add seats.

While Tuesday’s inauguration of the Federal Parliament is a positive step in the electoral process, “any further expansion of the Upper House should only be contemplated after the presidential vote has been held in the new federal parliament and implemented through a proper constitutional process”.

The statement also pointed to a number of “egregious cases of abuse,” including men who have taken parliamentary seats reserved for women and the NLF’s decision to invalidate all disqualifications for candidates who have allegedly committed abuse and malpractice.

“It contravenes the Federal Government’s solemn commitment to respect the rule of law.

“If these candidates are allowed to take their seats in Somalia’s 10th parliament, it will bring into question the NLF’s expressed commitment to the principles of accountability and credibility that underpin the entire process,” the statement said.

The international community is also concerned that such steps would thwart attempts to level the playing field and to safeguard a credible process.

“International partners are calling for a re-run for those parliamentary seats whose outcomes were influenced by violence, corruption, intimidation, an unauthorised substitution of electoral college delegates, or a failure to set aside one in three seats for women.

“The international community is thus urging the Somali federal parliament to create a timeline to ensure that speakers and Deputy Speakers of the new federal parliament and the Federal President are elected as soon as possible, particularly given the fact that the electoral process was supposed to have been completed earlier this year.”

The statement emphasised that a swift timeline was necessary in light of the UN Security Council meeting on Somalia scheduled for Jan. 19, 2017.

The Council established the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on June 3, 2013 to provide policy advice to the Federal Government and the AU Mission in Somalia in the areas of governance, security sector reform and rule of law, and development of a federal system, including preparations for elections in 2016.

International partners believe that the integrity of the 2016 electoral process hangs in the balance.

“More delays and a failure to hold accountable those parties who have committed serious abuses and malpractices will compromise the international community’s ability and willingness to engage with Somalia’s next Federal Government,” the statement warned.


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