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A CALL FOR DIALOGUE: To Hold A Free, Fair And Peaceful Presidential Election
The Somaliland Independent Scholars Group
On 17th of July 2009, a group of 12 Somaliland scholars met at Ambassador Hotel to discuss the implications of the new developments on the election process, resulting from the Declaration of NEC Chairman to hold election without the available Voter Registration results. The meeting was sponsored by the Social Research and Development Institute (SORADI). It was moderated by its Director, Dr. Mohamed Fadal. The Somaliland Independent Scholar’s Group (ISG) members are all long-term participants of Somaliland rebuilding and democratization process, who are considered to be highly competent to provide an objective analysis and strategy to address the issues at hand. The ISG members are: Amina Mohamoud Warsame (Executive Director of NAGAAD); Abdilkadir H Ismail Jirde (Ex-Deputy Speaker and Member of Parliament- now travelling), Shukri H. Ismail (Former National Electoral Commissioner and Member of African Democracy Forum and Chair of Candle Light); Ibrahim Jama Ali -Raite (Member of Parliament and Lawyer), Fawsi Sh. Yonis (Somaliland Lawyer’s Association); Abdi Ahmed Nour (Forum for Peace and Governance-FOBAG), Bobe Y. Duale (Research Coordinator, APD), Haroon H Ahmed Qulumbe (ActionAid), Jafar Mohamed Gadaweyne (SONSAF); Mohamed Hassan Ibrahim (Researcher-APD), Suad Ibrahim Abdi (Researcher-APD); Wais Muse (Executive Director of Samatalis Coalition of Human Rights)), Dr. Mohamed Fadal, Director of (SORADI);Muse Abdi Elmi (U. of Hargeysa; Dean Academic Affairs) Dr. Yusuf Kariye (Researcher in Anthropology). Associate scholars include: - Abdi-shakur Sh Ali-Jowhar (Psychiatrist and political analyst: warkamaanta.com).
II. The Current Situation
The Somaliland people are commended by the international community and their neighbours for their steadfastness to uphold peace and their unwavering aspiration for a responsible system of governance based on justice and democracy. It must, however, be recognized that today the Somaliland people face overwhelming challenges in their daily lives
Many of the Somaliland regions are experiencing a scorching drought, which is driving their citizens to flock into the cities in destitution; The Somaliland people are lacking recognition to be members of world citizens and their youth are dying in the seas and desserts fleeing in desperation from growing hopelessness; the Somaliland are worried of growing threats to their peace and stability. Is it fair to add another home-grown problem to their suffering? Is it fair to derail their chance to exercise their right to choose their President and Vice-president in a free, fair and peaceful election?
The Independent Scholar’s Group’s answer to the above questions is “no, it is not fair”. Free, fair and peaceful elections can be easily held and without the need to manufacture unwarranted complications.
The Group regrets to say that the present National Electoral Commission has failed its primary objective of neutrality and consensus building. Organizing and managing free and fair elections held on time in every five years is a responsibility under the law entrusted to it by the Somaliland people. Creating a neutral ground for all stakeholders in the election, especially the three competing candidates and their supporters is a responsibility entrusted to them under the law by the Somaliland people. Interacting with the Executive Branch as an independent entity and providing it with objective and truthful information and assessments is a responsibility entrusted to it by the Somaliland people. Advancing the electoral process, ie organizing a Voter Registration, to build a solid base for free and fair election is a responsibility entrusted to it by the Somaliland people. The present National Electoral Commission and especially its present leadership have failed to fulfill all the above responsibilities. The Group considers the Declaration of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission to annul the Voter Registration was not driven by a national interest and a duty to uphold the principle of holding free, fair and peaceful election, but rather by a vendetta against an individual foreign technical expert and an attempt to mask the Commission’s failure to fulfill its wider responsibilities.
We are convinced that the Somaliland people has gone through enough debate about the need for voter registration, has enacted enough laws to implement it, has gotten enough international support to achieve that goal and has spent enough energy and resources to realize it and own it. They got a result, however imperfect it may be, and they want to nurture it and to use it in the election to help them avoid the carnage such of which some of their neighbors experienced as a result of botched elections.
The Independent Scholar’s Group believe that the result from a unilateral election by the ruling party – UDUB and a boycott from the two opposition parties KULMIYE and UCID will lead us to an unknown path and may generate uncontrollable forces and circumstances. Let us stick with what the Somaliland people know best and which has served them so far so well – Dialogue and Consensus building.
The Independent Scholar’s Group considers the involvement of the international community in the Somaliland election as crucial. Elections today serve in the world for two main purposes: a) for people of a certain country to exercise their right to elect their leaders and b) for the other world community to determine how the government of such country and its leader treat their own people and how the rest of the world community could relate to them. For Somaliland, the donor community representatives play the role of ambassadors for other nations and its key links to the world. It is the world community from which we demand recognition. Isolating ourselves has no place in the aspiration of the Somaliland people to become a respected and a recognized member of the world community.
The Group does not see any value for an election which is not free and fair and not held on a level playing field for all candidates and all voters. We believe only free and fair election can be peaceful and can lead to a better governed and prosperous Somaliland.
III. Urgent Action
Therefore, the Independent Scholars Group:
Urges the National Electoral Commission to salvage the Somaliland Presidential Election and the regime of election laws, Code of Conducts and consensus agreements attained in the last 18 months as a result of the concerted efforts of all sectors of Somaliland society. To be able do this, the Commission has to fulfill its responsibility of building consensus among key stakeholders.
Urges all key stakeholders to refrain from unilateral actions, which could deny the Somaliland citizens their right to a free, fair and peaceful election held on a level playing field for all candidates and voters.
Urges the leaders of the three political parties, who also happen to be the three presidential candidates, to come together and chart a new roadmap for holding free, fair and peaceful elections and in the shortest possible time.
Urges the Legislative Houses to act proactively to steer the process of holding free, fair and peaceful elections back on course and in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the country.
Urge the good intentioned citizens, who have no stakes to grind other than the common and the national interest, to come forward and bring the key stakeholders to sit together and solve the current election crisis.
The ISG 5th Report
13 Aug., 2009; Hargeysa, Somaliland
All ISG Reports are found at (www. soradi.org)