Somalia: Intl partners concerned over decisions of Somalia's leadership forum on electoral process

Mogadishu, Somalia (PANA) - Inauguration of the Federal Parliament of Somalia on Tuesday represented a step forward in the electoral process, international partners supporting the country's transition to democratic rule said in a joint statement.

However, they pointed out that they wish to see the electoral process go forward with the existing 54 seats in the Upper House as stipulated under Somalia’s Provisional Constitution.

"Any further expansion of the Upper House should only be contemplated after the presidential vote has been held in the new federal parliament and implemented through a proper constitutional process," the statement underlined.

The partners, comprising the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States said they were gravely concerned over a number of decisions announced by the National Leadership Forum (NLF) in its communiqué dated 24 December 2016.

Besides they acknowledged the NLF’s communiqué of 26 December 2016 that designated five seats in the House of the People for undergoing a fresh round of voting.

"But this fails to address a number of other egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process, including seats reserved for women candidates only that were ultimately taken by male candidates," the partners noted.

Further, the statement  said: "The NLF’s decision to revoke all disqualifications of candidates made by the country’s electoral bodies for allegedly committing abuses and malpractices represents a blanket amnesty for some of the most blatant irregularities witnessed during this electoral process. It also contravenes the Federal Government’s solemn commitment to respect the rule of law.

"If these candidates are allowed to take their seats in Somalia’s tenth parliament, it will bring into question the NLF’s expressed commitment to the principles of accountability and credibility that underpin the entire process.

"It will also undermine the electoral code of conduct signed by all parliamentary candidates in the spirit of leveling the playing field and ensuring the delivery of a credible process."

According to the statement, the international partners strongly believe that elections must be re-run for seats where the voting outcomes were clearly distorted by violence, corruption, intimidation, the unauthorized substitution of electoral college delegates and a failure to set aside one of every three seats for exclusively female candidates.

"International partners call on the federal parliament to issue as soon as possible a timeline for the completion of the process in order to elect the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the new federal parliament and the Federal President.

"This timeline should be strictly enforced to avoid yet another postponement in an electoral process that was supposed to have finished earlier this year," the statement emphasized.

The international partners pointed out a particular need to conclude the process swiftly in light of the UN Security Council’s upcoming meeting on Somalia that is scheduled for 19 January 2017.

In their opinion, the integrity of the 2016 electoral process hangs in the balance.

"More delays and a failure to hold accountable those parties who have committed serious abuses and malpractices will compromise the international community’s ability and willingness to engage with Somalia’s next federal government," they warned in the statement.
-0- PANA AR 27Dec2016

27 december 2016 17:43:27

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