The national election commission-NEC is technically prepared and ready to undertake Somaliland presidential elections on the 27th March this year.
Despite this readiness the three national political parties and the administration are on differing opinions as per the viability of the ballot exercise in lieu of the prevailing severe drought in eastern regions of the country.
This development emerged after a meeting between NEC and the political party leaders of Kulmiye, UCID and Wadani, Messrs. Muse Behi, Feisal Ali Warabe and Abdirahman Irro respectively at the body’s headquarters in Hargeisa on Saturday.
At the meeting NEC which briefed the politicos on, its just concluded assessment of voter cards distribution viability, informed that outcome indicates that the ongoing drought has directly affected its ability to issue all registered voters with the cards.
“We visited over 50 of our registration centers nationwide and discerned that almost 60% of registered voters are not present at the site” informed NEC adding that this absence was most acute in the east of the country where drought is severe.
While detailing this anomaly the electoral body was quick to stress on the fact that it was all set to start issuance of voter cards which it plans to disburse to two regions each simultaneously from the 21st of this month.
Having had its say at the closed meeting the field was left open to the political parties with UCID and Wadani concurring on the impossibility of voter cards distribution owing to the absence of registered voters thence urging postponement of ballot and subsequent time accrued and efforts directed towards drought relief activities.
Contrary to the Opposition parties, ruling Kulmiye covertly in cahoots with the administration was adamant that drought should not be used as an excuse thence presidential elections should be held as slated. “Without voter cards the ballot should go on even if it entails a head count” the ruling party opinionated.
According to the UCID party leader and presidential aspirant Eng Feisal Ali Warabe (interview with VOA) the untentibility of the elections is obvious if the assessment conducted by NEC is factual.
Said he, “Imagine holding elections without 95%, 85%, 67% and 57% of registered voters in Sool, Sanaag, Toghdeer and Maroodi-jeeh regions respectively” adding that this was justification enough for postponement.
Revealing that his party and Wadani were unanimous in the impossibility of the electoral exercise in lieu of the absent voters from registration centers as per law, Eng Warabe queried his ruling party colleague on drive for ballot as slated, “Muse Behi should be directing his and party’s energy on how to alleviate suffering among drought affected citizens instead”
In conclusion the UCID party boss said that though it is imperative for the democratization process to hold timely elections, the absence of 70% of voters dictates otherwise thence possible to negotiate on date extension.
As per the Wadani party the NEC briefing was not only important, but fruitful since it brought out the clear picture of issues related to a successful and all inclusive election Exercise in Somaliland
Talking to VOA the opposition party leader cum presidential aspirant Abdirahman Irro who is also speaker of the National Assembly said, “ though we are for timely ballot the prevalent situation brought about by drought as revealed by NEC indicate that 70% of rural based voters are not available at registration centers for cards distribution” stressing that this translate to their failure to vote if elections are held on the 27th March 2017.
Urging for concerted efforts towards a reversal Abdirahman Irro recommended a national dialogue forum for the purpose, while stressing on the imperatives of enhanced drought effects alleviation measures.
For the ruling Kulmiye whose leader Muse Behi differed media briefing to party spokesperson Hasan Gafadi , “ The readiness of NEC should be taken advantage of and elections conducted as scheduled”
On the issue of timeframe considering that it is less than 90 days to election dates and yet to be distributed voter cards , Gafadi said that Kulmiye was confidence in the ability of NEC to complete the card issuances as per the commission’s plan that strategies for distributing to simultaneously to two regions each as from the 21st January.
A strategy that
On the issue of NEC recommendations that the effects of the drought negate possibility of a successful election in March this year, the Kulmiye spokesperson said, “ Neither drought or other issues are the purview of the electoral body whose mandate is only to make the arrangements while the decisions of dates is for other authorities.
According to Our sources the administration of president Silanyo which is in tandem with ruling party position is said to have already decided to proceed with the elections as initially planned, that is Late March 2017.
As per Local analysts the ruling party and administration’s ignorance of the major absence of almost 70% of registered voters thence want for on date ballot is for the simple fact the affected areas where drought has displaced voters is in the east of the country where the Opposition Wadani party derives a majority of support.
Source: Horn Newspaper