25 April 2018

Somalia: Officials Meet in Kenya Over Electoral Boundary Delimitation

Photo: New Times
A voter shows his thumbs with ink after voting in 2013 elections.

Somalia's electoral stakeholders are meeting in Kenyan capital, Nairobi on Tuesday to discuss electoral boundary delimitation, organizers said.

The three-day meeting organized by the Political Affairs Department of the African Union Commission and facilitated by the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is being attended by senior officials from key ministries, the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), and the federal member states.

In his opening remarks, Guy Cyrille Topiko, the acting head of the Democracy and Electoral Unit at the AU Commission who acknowledged the complexities of determining electoral boundaries, said the meeting takes place at a time when Somalis are "engaging in a process of developing their constitutional legal framework for future elections.

"The African Union has the mandate to provide election support to election management bodies of member states. The electoral commission of Somalia is one of our priority institutions in terms of providing long-term electoral assistance on the continent," Topiko said.

He expressed the Commission's commitment to attaining free, fair and transparent elections in countries in Africa.

"For any country, the process of electoral boundary delimitation is complex and demands an inclusive participatory process in order to be successful," he added.

AMISOM said the meeting is brainstorming on the legal and institutional framework for electoral boundary delimitation, use of technology and impact of government and electoral systems, on the delimitation.

Haji Ssebirumbi Kisinziggo, AMISOM's Senior Political Affairs Officer said the workshop was in response to a request for further training by the NIEC.

"We (AMISOM) are here therefore to give that support as requested by the National Independent Electoral Commission. We are working closely with the Integrated Electoral Support Group within the UN, so that we coordinate our efforts," Kisinziggo said.

Halima Ismail Ibrahim, the Chairperson of Somalia's NIEC lauded efforts by the AU Commission to educate electoral stakeholders on the critical aspects of elections, boundaries and delimitation, which she noted were intertwined.

The NIEC was central to Somalia's choice of electoral system in the 2016/2017 electoral process.

"If the Somalis are now choosing and selecting their electoral system; it is because of the training we had here," said Halima, in reference to previous workshops organized for Somalia's electoral body, by the African Union.

She also called for cooperation from all stakeholders in preparations for Somalia's one person-one vote elections in 2020/2021.

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