Somalia gears up for universal adult suffrage elections
Mogadishu – Somalia has launched a public awareness campaign on the 2020/21 elections to ensure residents keep abreast of ongoing preparations for the one-person, one-vote exercise.
The event was attended by representatives of the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Members of Parliament, leaders of political parties and civil society groups. The United Nations, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) were also represented.
Ahead of the elections, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) will facilitate a series of town hall meetings in Mogadishu for Federal Member States to educate and update Somalis on the electoral and constitutional process.
At the launch event in Mogadishu, the convener and chair of Somali Non-State Actors (SONSA), Mr. Osman Tahlil, listed a series of activities planned to create awareness about the process. He was grateful for the support of AMISOM to SONSA and the Somali Institute of Public Administration and Management (SIPAM) in the planned campaigns.
In his remarks, Hon. Abdifatah Kassim, a Member of the Somali Parliamentary Adhoc Committee on the Electoral Law, said the House is expected to pass amendments to the proposed Election Act before the end of October 2019, to pave way for universal suffrage elections.
“We need to be enthusiastic about the changes in the electoral law because we have to change the mentality of voting via clan-based system which has been in existence for over 30 years,” said Mr. Kassim.
He added that Somalia needs to adopt an electoral model that will guarantee the rights of all adults to vote.
A Commissioner from the National Independent Electoral Commission, Hussein Abdi Adan, expressed optimism that the next elections will be peaceful and urged the public to participate in the forums to fully understand the process.
“We have formulated policies and are currently pushing for the adoption of the election laws. We are also organizing public awareness campaigns and identifying potential polling centres. And the Electoral Commission is grateful to have the support of AMISOM through this process,” said Mr. Adan.
He emphasized that “the town hall meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to familiarize themselves with the National Independent Electoral Commission’s 5-year Strategic Plan, which outlines a roadmap for achieving one-person, one-vote universal elections in 2020/21”.
Speaking at the same event, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, assured the people of Somalia of AMISOM’s support in facilitating the engagement forums, countrywide.
“AMISOM and other partners will ensure that all Somalis participate in the upcoming elections by educating and preparing them for the electoral process to ensure democracy is fully implemented in Somalia,” said Mr. Mulongo.
“We will be having a series of engagement forums, facilitated by AMISOM, involving the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States, political parties’ leaders and the civil societies to educate and inform them on the electoral process, the electoral law and constitutional matters,” said AMISOM Senior Political Officer, Hajji Ssebirumbi.
Mr. Ssebirumbi added that the relevant stakeholders in the upcoming electoral process are in the process of agreeing on election modalities that would help the country move from the 4.5 clan-based electoral system to one-person, one-vote multiparty electoral system.
Somalia, with the help of AMISOM and the United Nations, is making urgent preparations for universal suffrage elections, which will be the first of its kind after more than two decades since the outbreak of the civil war that followed the collapse of the Somali government in 1992.
AMISOM has been working closely with the federal and state governments to secure Somalia and provide a conducive environment for universal elections.