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Civil society observes Somalia’s 2016 electoral process

Civil engagement in Somalia’s electoral process is the first step towards public oversight, transparency and accountability. In turn, it generates public confidence in the credibility and integrity of the electoral process and its outcome. In fact, one success story of the 2016 electoral process – regardless of the uneven process – is the active engagement of domestic observers despite the very challenging political and security environment. Denmark through its partnership with Saferworld is supporting Puntland Non State Actors Association (PUNSAA) and Somalia South Central Non State Actors (SOSCENSA), to observe the ongoing 2016 electoral process in Somalia.

Somalia is in the midst of electing members of both its Lower and Upper House of parliament. Whilst the 2016 electorate is limited - 14,025 delegates selected by 135 titled elders - this election is an opportunity for Somalia to continue its emergence from decades of violence and civil war.

The Danida funded Domestic Election Observer Mission is led by PUNSAA and SOSCENSA, which have to date trained and deployed 34 election observers. All observers commit to observing the process impartially before, during and after the election. They are committed only to report and not to intervene in any instances of suspected malpractice. Having set up a data centre in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, the observers are sending SMS reports to the centre throughout the election. This information is then analysed to assess the extent to which the electoral process has been free, fair and compliant with various regulations. A post-election report to be published in early 2017 will document this process and provide recommendations for future electoral processes in Somalia and Somaliland.

“Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections. Observers help build public confidence in the integrity of the electoral processes,” explains Fadumo, a long-term observer based in Mogadishu. Abdikarim, a short-term observer team leader based in Garowe, said that because the 2016 electoral process is Somali-owned, “I’m interested in observing the integrity of the process and how the inexperienced election implementation officials will adhere to the electoral framework set by the National Leadership Forum.”

The observer mission is a component of the broader Danida-funded Participatory Governance and Peacebuilding programme in Somalia and Somaliland, which aims to strengthen the participation of civil society organisations in statebuilding processes in Somalia to ensure that these better reflect the needs and aspirations of the local population. The Participatory Governance and Peacebuilding programme is implemented by Saferworld, an independent international organisation working to prevent violent conflict.

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