EC boss tips Somali officials on elections

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Justice Simon Byabakama, has tipped Somalia on electoral security ahead of the 2020 general elections in the conflict-riddled country.

“The entire process of organising and conducting elections is a multi-stakeholder responsibility requiring that each one renders total support and cooperation to all the efforts in place to realise the desired goal,” he said.

Byabakama was speaking during a four-day conference organised by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure that Somalia is fully prepared for ‘one-person-one-vote’ universal elections in 2020 at Kabira Country Club in Kampala.

Officials from the National Independent Electoral Commission of Somalia (NIEC) and other critical government agencies in election planning and management are in Uganda to pick lessons from Uganda on electoral security, dispute resolution and how to organise free and fair elections.

“The workshop, being held in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, is aimed at developing a common strategy on how to organise and manage the country’s next elections to ensure they are peaceful, credible and inclusive,” AMISOM officials said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Unlike previous elections, which were based on the clan system, in 2020, Somalia plans to hold general elections based on universal adult suffrage.

AMISOM troop-contributing countries, including Uganda, are currently helping the Somali Government to develop capacity by training and providing technical support to the NIEC and other institutions.
During the Kampala conference, the NIEC chairperson, Halima Ismail Ibrahim, said security will be a major factor in Somalia’s quest to achieve universal adult suffrage in the next elections.

“We are undertaking the verification of voter registration centres and we want our security officials to sit together and see whether the areas are safe. They have to give us direction because without security it will be difficult for elections to take place,” she said.