The process of electing by vote of a person or persons from among candidates for a political office is one of the most important engagement in which a person can undertake during a lifetime. In Somaliland, the process of election is not free and fair and on the other hand is a source of violence and possibly lost of life and property.
The root causes of our problems in election lie with polling stations. The polling stations of Somaliland in general and Awdal in particular was designed at the time of former president Rayale aiming to promote some tribes politically to succeed more legislative body. To that end, polling stations are concentrated heavily in those areas where favored tribes are inhabited while in area not preferred by former regime polling stations are inadequate, under this system some of the tribes are made vulnerable to lose seats in both parliament and local council elections as polling stations were set by design but not in accordance with population settlements.
The other irregularities observed during the election in Somaliland was moving large number of voters from one area as far as Ethiopia or Djibouti into the polling stations of Borama, lughaya and Zeila prior to an election aiming to jam ballot lever of the local people thus, causing local communities vulnerable to lose candidates for the purpose. In coastal areas the situation is even worst due to the scarcities of the populations with plenty of polling stations in place cause both districts of lughaya and Zeila exposed for systematic rigging.
In addition to, trouble in Somaliland elections begins when ballot boxes returned to the district election commission center; it is where rigging and altering ballot papers in favor of preferential candidates started. When results announced no complaints are taken into account for the reason that the government do not want the alteration of the election results that have occurred during the elections to be revealed because if any fraud were revealed it would affect both the election commission and the government.
However, in the latest elections of Somaliland given irregularities, fraud and unlawful voter suppression tactics that could have brought Somaliland on the edge to collapse is a continuing concern until necessary reforms made to electoral process in our country. Even though the magnitude of the problems inherited from earlier regimes, the current government made no improvements to electoral system.
It is in the need of the hour to invent comprehensive restructuring plan with complete system from top to bottom reallocating polling stations in accordance with the population settlements, introducing identity card and voting card system in order to bring an end manipulation of demography. We have to refurbish and strengthen rules and regulations governing election commission and the electoral system bringing our electoral system on par with the developed countries.
Blame goes to the politicians of different parties, government and both houses of the parliament, intellectuals and educated elite who failed to address the weak points of the Somaliland electoral process well before the election. Had we been reformed the system earlier we could have avoided violence occurred in each and every nook of Somaliland. If Somaliland conducts election in the years to come, it should be different from the bizarre election system seen recently and it should be carried out in a sound manner then the outcome is pleasing because politicians elected are accountable for their actions to the people.
Nevertheless, People are not willing to trust the election commission any more given the above mentioned. Enacting policies that protect voters will help reinstate confidence and integrity of our electoral system. In addition, we need reforms correcting the irregularities and injustices and other malpractices likewise seen in the recent elections. To that end, we need to modify our election system keeping away from similar incident of the past to occur again because anything that enhances the election system enhances transparency in democracy and above all the government system.
Mr. Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi