News / Africa

Somaliland Voters Go to the Polls

Woman casts her ballot in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
Woman casts her ballot in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
Somaliland held municipal elections Wednesday. Seven political parties took part in the first poll for local councils since 2002.

Although Somaliland has declared itself an independent state, it has not received full international recognition since breaking away from Somalia in 1991.


The IEO -- International Election Observers -- has a team of more than 50 people in Somaliland. Dr. Steve Kibble, joint coordinator of the mission. From the capital Hargeisa, he said that Somaliland’s municipal elections are “important in several ways.”

“Somaliland has proved that it’s on the road to some form of democracy of its own making. We saw pretty free and fair elections, which contrast with some of the neighbors, it must be said.”

Kibble describes Somaliland as “an important player for some people even though it’s an unrecognized state.” He said Somaliland played a “key” role in international conferences on the Horn of Africa.

Long queues of voters in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate StanworthLong queues of voters in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
x
Long queues of voters in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
Long queues of voters in Somaliland municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
“I think there’s a kind of implicit recognition, not that I’m qualified to talk about recognition as an international observer. But recognition in the sense that people can see its value, and the fact that it’s on this road to a hybrid form of democratization, mixing sort of traditional and democratic forms,” he said.

Kibble was in Somaliland for the first municipal elections in 2002. Since then, a parliamentary election was held in 2005 and a presidential vote in 2010.

As for the election process, he said, “There have always been ups and downs. But in terms of the understanding of the Somaliland people for democracy, I think that has been a more and more sophisticated tactic. One always has to balance off sub-clan interests against individual interests and policy interests. That’s not very well formulated in many ways. But the actual mechanics of the electoral process are well understood, and people have been turning out in really big numbers today.”

Over 50 IEO mission observers are deployed over six regions, but they were not placed in any areas where their safety could be in jeopardy. The observers come from 18 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, many European nations, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

Kibble said, “Also, there are lots of volunteers that have paid their own way, paid their own expenses, flights, etcetera, to get here. So it kind of shows the interest.”
He said that elections can be “quite volatile” in Somaliland, adding, “people get very enthusiastic and exuberant. And sometimes the police kind of whip them into line a bit more than you would expect…in rather quieter North American [and] European countries. That having been said, it’s very heartening to see so many people queuing-up to vote in the pretty hot sun. Mostly, things appear to be pretty stable, pretty peaceful.”

There have been allegations of underage people attempting to vote and of the government driving its supporters to the polling stations. There are also reports of police firing in the air as part of crowd control.

“These are just allegations at the moment,” he said, “We will obviously try and check those out as much as possible. But the overwhelming mood from our observers, at the moment, is that things are going along fine.”

The IEO mission will issue an interim report on the municipal elections before it leaves. The findings will be presented to the National Electoral Commission. A final report may be issued in December.

Kibble said, “This is a rather complicated process where people vote for a local councilor, but also are voting to streamline seven political parties into three registered parties under the constitution.”

The election panel listed nearly 2400 candidates for about 350 council seats.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid