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
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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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