Sheikh Mountains of Somaliland
Speech by H.E. Eidarus Sh Adan, Somaliland Representative Sweden at UNPO:s conference at the European Parliament April 30, 2009
Distinguished guests, Honorable MEP:s, Honorable Senators, ladies and gentlemen;
First, I will like to thank UNPO Allianceof Liberals and Deomcrats for Europe who make this conference happen.
I am honoured to be invited to UNPO:s conference and I look forward to an interesting day.
Somaliland democracy will prevail despite the difficulties
Mr chairman, Somaliland people have realized that sustainable peace can only be found within the local social and cultural context. Somaliland has established a strong and robust multiparty democracy in which the opposition has a majority in the House of Representatives. This is a unique situation in the African context. With the support of the international community, the country held its first multiparty elections widely praised as credible, free and fair in 2003. Somaliland has built a society founded on peace, democracy, justice and the rule of law. Somaliland commitment to the peace and stability of the region includes unreserved respect for the neighboring states. Mr chairman, there is no way back for the democratization process in Somaliland despite the political crisis regarding the election date.
Forthcoming presidential election Somaliland
Last year, in June 2008, the three political parties and the NEC have agreed to extend the term of the President and Vice-President to april 6, 2009. According to the Agreement between the political parties and National Electoral Commission (NEC), the election will be in march 29, 2009. NEC announced march 3, 2009 a delay of the presidential election to may 31 of this year due to technical problems related to double vote registration.
The government party UDUB and Welfare Party(UCID) accepted the new date set by NEC. The Biggest opposition party Kulmiye refused to sign the Agreement and declared that they will not accept the new date for the election. Due to the ending term of the presidency on april 6, the President of Somaliland wrote a letter to the House of Elders, requesting to discuss the expiring term of the President and Vice-President. After intensive debate the House of Elders voted march 28, 2009 to extend the term of the presidency to October 27, 2009.
The new date of the election will be September 27 and the elected president will take over a month later. The decision of the House of Elders have created different views and discussions between the political parties and the diaspora.
What are reasons behind the delay of presidential election?
There are different circumstances that make the election could not held on time. Below I will mention some of them
Somaliland has chosen a complicated election system
NEC have on behalf of the Somaliland people chosen to implement a sophisticated biometric voter registration system(one of the few in Africa). The Biometric system was chosen in the first place, for the purpose of eliminating multiple voting. The introduction of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the Facial Recognition System (FRS) will produce clean lists for every polling station. This vote registration system represents a huge investment of over 8 million US dollar and is a unique opportunity for the Somaliland people. NEC is planning to present a final Voter List that all the stakeholders can accept it. NEC and the political parties lacked the experts needed inorder to implement, understand and monitor the system. They also underestimated the complications connected with the system.
Double or multiple registration
During the process of Voter Registration, International Peacebuilding Alliance (Interpeace) found a large number of double or multiple registrations, over half without fingerprints. Technical expertise has to be engaged to correct the abuse of the system inorder to provide a Voter List that will promote the likelihood of free and fair elections and will not disenfranchise genuine registered voters.
Delay of the election preparations due terror attack
Somaliland have been a victim of terrorism on numerous occasions. Most recently, on October 29 2008, international terrorism struck the heart and the soul of Somaliland. Using at least three suicide cars bombs, violent extremists attacked our citizens, the symbols of our democracy. More than twenty people of different nationalities were killed in these senseless terrorist attacks and dozens more were injured. The timing of these violent terrorist acts indicate that were launched inorder to disrupt and derail our National Voter Registration Process, a key democratic milestone achievement for our country.
Somaliland is a poor nation and have no the financial resources to hold election by it self. According to Agreement with the international donors Somaliland must pay 25% of the total cost of the election. This means that Somaliland have to pay around 2 million US dollar. There is also conditions from the International Donors before the funds can be available. The Voter Registration Law requires the political parties to reach a consensus on the election date. One of the conditions from the International donors is that the political parties must reach a consensus on the electoral timetable, as required by the Voter Registration Act.
Analysis and conclusion
The House of Elders set the new date for the election and NEC has accepted the date and lastly signed by the President of Somaliland. Therefore it is very essential now that all stakeholders focus all their energies on creating solution inorder to further Somalilands democratisation process. Preparations must be done before election can take place. NEC has to open international Tender for election materials, employment of Personnel has to start, Civic Education on the Voter List and training for media and observers must start.
For the last weeks the political parties have been discussed the political situation at the light of the decision taken by the House of Elders. There has been meetings between the party leaders and a reconciliation committee have been set. The work of the committee is to mediate between the political parties so that they can reach consensus agreement regarding the Code of Conduct for the forthcoming election.
The political parties must finalise their differences and start focus on the huge work ahead. Otherwise the election will be delayed again. There is also another implication. If the political parties does not agree the date for the election, the funds from the International donors will not be available and that means another delay for the preparations. The preparations must continue and the international donors should not stop the funds allocated for the election.
Some people doubts that there will be election in Somaliland and believes that Somaliland is moving in a wrong direction. I can assure all that Somaliland people have chosen their way and they will not go back to anarchy and civil war.
The political parties and Somaliland people are committed in holding free and fair elections. The political parties have solved their difference before and they will solve the current problems. The key political drivers of Somaliland accepted to solve the current stuck politics, this shows that Somalilanders always solve some how their problems ,no matter what happens and how it gets stuck.
Somaliland people have precedents and ample experience in building consensus to overcome the hurdles facing them. Despite differences in policy, the government and the opposition in Somaliland are singularly united in their resolve to become a sovereign state separate from Somalia. This presents them with a unique challenge to bridge the gap that divides them and instead harness their collective energies to rally the international community around their nationalistic.
The piracy and the impact in the region
Most of Somalilands international trade(export& import)goes through the redsea. Redsea is very important for Somaliland economy.
Pirates have endangered the international trade route off the coast of Somalia. Somaliland has fought piracy in its water. There has not been one single piracy case in the territorial water of Somaliland. Somaliland is closely guarding its coastline. The government of Somaliland has long experience in fighting pirates. There is no way that pirates can base their operations in Somaliland. Piracy has become a real danger to international trade. Somaliland is prepared to cooperate with the international community to contain this danger. Therefore Somaliland needs support from the International community inorder to accelerate the fight against piracy. Jointly training with EU- military is important, patrolling together is also necessary inorder to secure the Redsea from piracy. Somaliland is committed to protect its coastline from piracy and it is a matter of national and international security.
Somaliland Representative Sweden