Somaliland: “Swerves on the Road” -IOE 2012 Election Report Part I


Swerves on the road

The International Election Observer-IOE Mission to the 2012 local council elections released its final report titled “Swerves on the Road” contained in 40 pages herein to be published chapter by chapter on a daily basis with a link for those readers interested in downloading the entire report.

1st Excerpt: Introduction

Somalilandsun – International election observation mission to Somaliland’s local council elections, assembled by Progressio, University College London and Somaliland Focus (UK), launches final report highlighting the “swerves on the road” as Somaliland continues to drive its developing democracy forward

The 50-strong team from 20 countries was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to observe voting on and before polling day, November 28th 2012. Six months on, the public release of the mission report notes that once again, Somalilanders displayed their dedication to the unique democratic spirit they have crafted from their challenging history.

In particular, there was real progress in inclusion of youth and women: the election of 10 female candidates represents a huge step forward. Yet concerns expressed immediately following polling day—especially over observers’ reports of widespread attempts at multiple and underage voting—remain real.

While definitive information on which political actors gained the greatest advantage is lacking, there is sufficient evidence to state that successful attempts at multiple voting occurred at very significant levels. Thus, although the report declares the election process reasonably free and credible, it must fall short of describing it as fair.

Perceived unfairness gave rise to post-poll tensions in several regions and protests resulting in a number of deaths. While this real and substantial threat to peace and stability has been resolved to a degree by political leaders urging calm upon their supporters, deep rifts remain and have assumed clan as well as political dimensions, with the potential to damage Somaliland’s democratisation.

Thus, the report repeats the recommendation made immediately following polling day: that Somaliland must urgently adopt a robust system of voter registration, so that future elections can be approached effectively and with confidence.

Yet, despite the reservations and some genuine grievances, there were many gains from Somaliland’s 2012 elections: with three political parties selected, Somaliland now has a clear road ahead into the next stage of its electoral cycle. The mission urges all stakeholders to continue to work to resolve difficulties using the methods of negotiation and reconciliation that have worked so well in the past in Somaliland.

Election observers

• 50 international election observers (IEOs) including 22 women, and 7 from the

Somaliland diaspora

• IEOs from 17 countries, and from Africa, Australasia, Europe, and North America

• IEOs covered 18 per cent of all polling stations and 15 of the 21 districts in which elections were held

• Domestic observers: 800 observers placed by the Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum

(SCISEF), covering approximately 50 per cent of all polling stations

Women were very active in the elections Facts and figures

• 379 seats

• 2,368 candidates

• 140 female candidates; 10 were elected

• 7 groups took part: 2 political parties and 5 political associations

• 1,782 polling stations

Read Below our first Excerpt of the Report



On 28 November 2012, district and council elections were held in Somaliland. International development agency Progressio, the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus (UK) were invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) to act as coordinators of the international observation mission. The elections saw 2,368 candidates contest 379 positions across the country, and were observed by an international observation mission made up of 50 observers from 17 countries.

This mission follows previous missions to the parliamentary elections in 2005 and the presidential election in 2010. As in 2010, the mission was led by Dr Steve Kibble (of Progressio) and Dr Michael Walls (of UCL). It also follows pre-election assessment visits by Steve Kibble and Michael Walls in February and July 2012 respectively, which focused on Somaliland’s readiness to hold the local elections, and how the provision of an international election observation mission could aid the electoral process.

Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK)

Progressio is a UK charity (number 294329) which, as well as undertaking international advocacy, works by placing skilled development workers with national NGO partners. Current projects

in Somaliland support work on HIV and AIDS, youth and women’s participation, and the environment.

Through a number of different initiatives, Progressio has been instrumental in helping Somaliland along the road to democratisation, including capacity building with partner organisations, election observation (for example for the 2005 parliamentary and 2010 presidential elections), and coordinating, facilitating and helping in accreditation of international observers. It has also

worked on preparing and delivering conference and briefing papers, books and periodical articles, especially in collaboration with DPU, and carried out advocacy work, particularly in collaboration with Somaliland Focus (UK) and DPU.

DPU is an inter-disciplinary unit operating within UCL. It offers taught postgraduate courses

and research programmes, and undertakes consultancy work in international development. The DPU’s mission is Campaigningto build the capacity of professionals and institutions to design and implement innovative, sustainable and inclusive strategies at the local, national and global levels, that enable those people who are generally excluded from decision making by poverty or by their social and cultural identity, to play a full and rewarding role in their own development. In recent years, DPU staff, and most particularly Dr Michael Walls, has maintained a strong involvement in development-related interventions in the Horn of Africa, and most particularly in the Somali areas.

Somaliland Focus (UK) was established in 2005 to raise awareness of the democratic achievements of Somaliland. Its members are individuals with personal and/or professional interests in Somaliland, including those from the Somaliland diaspora in the UK.

Progressio, DPU and Somaliland Focus (UK) do not take a position on the international recognition of Somaliland, as we regard this issue as beyond our mandate. At the same time, we welcome the increased stability, security, and accountability to citizens which has in part been supported by the development of democratic institutions in Somaliland. Democracy is about more than just elections

– but elections are still

While the full report shall be published chapter by chapter on a daily basis interested readers can down load the full report “SWERVES ON THE ROAD” AS SOMALILAND CONTINUES TO DRIVE ITS DEVELOPING DEMOCRACY FORWARD here