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Somali Political Parties Urged to Explore Mediation

Monday, December, 26, 2016

Violence and voting irregularities have been reported by politicians and clan elders in Somalia. Only 14,000 people are permitted to vote each day for the country’s 275 new parliament leaders due to an insurgency by Islamists. The president is urging the political parties in the country to turn to mediation, should a more full-blown dispute arise.

Up until now, clan elders and prominent figures spent weeks electing law makers throughout each region who are then tasked with choosing the next president. The attacks allowed authorities to only enfranchise a fraction of the country’s 11 million residents, who have lived with more than 20 years of chaos and violent conflict. Despite the inability to provide every person in the country with the ability to vote, diplomats still view this election as a step forward from 2012 when only 135 elders participated in the choosing of the parliament.

There have been several complaints logged by participants and senior officials in the election that began the end of October. One public works minister from the semi-autonomous Galmudug region told Reuters the list of legal voters in his clan was rejected. He was then given a fake list of voters by the government. He said he was fired, along with another clan elder, because they registers a complaint with election officials. During the incident they were detained by authorities for several hours.

Opponents of the system say it is open to abuses including vote buying, but the government denies abuse charges and wants any complaints investigated by independent election panels. Many of these disputes could wind up in regional or international mediation.