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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.