News / Africa

Election Observers Readying Report on Somaliland

Women in Somaliland queue-up to cast ballots in municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth
Women in Somaliland queue-up to cast ballots in municipal elections, Nov. 28, 2012. Credit: Kate Stanworth

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
International election observers are gathering data following Wednesday’s municipal elections in Somaliland. They hope to present their preliminary findings to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Monday.  The observers were stationed at about 20 percent of the polling stations.

Dr. Steve Kibble, head of the London-based NGO Progressio, also led the International Election Observers mission in Somaliland. 


“I think the thing that stood out for me was the exuberance and enthusiasm of the voters, particularly young women. That did spillover into – what you might call – over excited behavior. And I think there were some problems… when polling stations shut because the ballot papers had run out and there were still people looking to vote, who either made a fuss or tried to find a polling station where they could vote,” he said.

Kibble said the observer team continues to collect information on the ballot shortages. But there is a legal procedure that addresses the problem.

‘Each polling station,” he said, “has 575 ballot papers each on the expectation that the figures would be roughly similar…to the presidential elections of 2010. The numbers voting appear to have taken NEC by surprise. Not that I blame them because they have to act on the basis of computer projections. There’s a provision for further ballot papers and possibly ballot boxes to be sent out,” he said.

The observer team leader said he did ask a NEC official about the problem and was told “we’re doing what we can.” He added, “They’re obviously a bit overwhelmed by the pressure themselves and…there’s not that many of them to respond to these situations.”

The apparent large voter turnout may be more than just voter enthusiasm.
“The more cynical might point to two particular aspects. One is that this is very much a clan-driven process. Once you have this open list and it seems that you just have a candidate to vote for, then the clan / sub-clan throw their weight behind that candidate, assuming they can agree on a common candidate. And then try and get their base support out,” he said.

The second area of concern is the possibility of voters casting multiple ballots.
“So it’s not certain that that mass enthusiasm was affected by each person having a single vote. There wasn’t a voter registration process. So, it was very much on the basis of giving your name, showing any ID that you might happen to have, which probably only 20 percent of the population have, and writing your name down. You know, if your fleet of foot, you might be able to get around to quite a few polling stations,” said Kibble.

As for the large number of women voters, he said, “I think we are seeing a sea change – a slow one – in the way that, A, firstly, women perceive the political process and, B, the way that the political process has been able to incorporate at least a significant number, probably most urban women. And that also applies to youth as well. There is massive enthusiasm amongst women voters and my impression as I went out…is that women outnumbered men.”

Women also made-up a large number of the polling station staff, as well.
“Certainly, the whole position of women is beginning to shift a little. What they need is more actual representation of course,” he said.

There are also some problems reported with the ink that was used to help ensure each voter cast only one ballot. Dipping one’s finger in the ink is a sign a person has voted. “We suspect there may have been some confusion between all the different liquids that were being offered. So we suspect if there has been multiple voting it may be not necessarily the ink itself, but its application,” he said.

Kibble said there were instances when police fired into the air to try to keep order at the polling queues.

“It’s certainly one method of crowd control. I was a bit perturbed I must admit personally to see a policeman beating women into line with an empty plastic bottle. A more community-based policing approach might pay off even with a volatile crowd of exuberant Somalis and also a better system for queuing,” he said.

The Observer mission is scheduled to hold a news conference Monday to talk about the elections and present their findings to NEC. Some observers will remain in Somaliland until mid-December to compile data for a final report.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid