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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid counter-terror intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid