Somalia: UN, global partners ‘gravely concerned’ over changes to electoral process

27 December 2016

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

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 24 December, the NLF has decided to add seats.

While today’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,” stated a joint press statement released today by the UN, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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 tenth parliament, it will bring into question the NLF’s expressed commitment to the principles of accountability and credibility that underpin the entire process,” said the statement.

The international community is concerned that such steps will 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 unauthorized substitution of electoral college delegates, or a failure to set aside one in three seats for women.

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

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 emphasized that a swift timeline was necessary in light of the UN Security Council meeting on Somalia scheduled for 19 January 2017.

The international community has expressed grave concern over Somalia's electoral process says Peter de Clercq, Deputy Special Representative at the UN mission in the country.

The Council established the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on 3 June 2013 to provide policy advice to the Federal Government and the African Union 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,” warned the statement.

 

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