INTEGRATED ELECTORAL SUPPORT GROUP
Under the Somali New Deal Compact, the Federal Government of Somalia identified five peace-building and state-building goals (PSGs). The UN’s Integrated Electoral Support Group (IESG), comprised of UNSOM and UNDP electoral specialists, focuses on PSG 1 (inclusive politics) which pursues the strategic objective of achieving a peaceful and stable federal Somalia through inclusive political processes.UNSOM is mandated by Security Council Resolutions 2102 (2013) and 2275 (2016) to support preparations for an electoral process in 2016 and universal elections by 2020. Following a request by the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, a UN electoral Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) visited Somalia in November 2013 and recommended a phased provision of electoral support.
Dual Track Approach
UNSOM's electoral support is designed to assist Somalia to achieve key objectives according to a dual track approach to:
(i) hold an electoral process in 2016 (limited franchise);
(ii) prepare for universal elections and a referendum on the constitution.
Electoral Process in 2016
The term limits of the Federal Parliament and the Executive will end in August and September 2016, respectively. However, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) acknowledged last year that universal 'one-person, one-vote' elections would not be feasible in 2016. In its place, an abbreviated electoral process for a transfer of power will be implemented that will serve as a stepping stone towards universal elections. From October 2015 until January 2016, several thousand Somalis participated in a consultative process to identify an appropriate electoral model for 2016. Federal and regional leaders agreed that the 275 seats of the Lower House will be allocated according to the 4.5 clan formula, and that an Upper House will be formed in 2016 with 58 members elected on the basis of emerging and established federal member states.
UNSOM through the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, the Political Affairs and Mediation Group (PAMG) and IESG engaged extensively with federal and regional authorities, as well as other stakeholders on the consultative process. UNSOM maintains a close engagement to encourage the implementation of a feasible and transparent electoral process in 2016. Preparations are underway to support ad hoc federal and regional bodies to implement the agreed electoral model. This includes support for operational planning, training, candidate registration, polling and counting, logistics, observer accreditation, outreach, and electoral security planning and coordination.
Concurrent with its support for the 2016 electoral process, UNSOM is supporting Somalia to prepare for universal 'one-person one-vote' elections by 2020. With UNSOM assistance, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is developing a 2020 political roadmap that will set out key milestones for universal elections to take place by 2020. UNSOM will maintain its close engagement with the FGS and other federal and regional institutions to ensure that progress towards 2020 stays on track.
The institution constitutionally mandated to conduct elections is the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC). UNSOM through the IESG provided technical support to Parliament to develop the NIEC law that established the Commission and defines its role and functions. Since the appointment of the nine-member NIEC commission in July 2015, IESG has worked closely with the commissioners to deliver technical advice, capacity development and to provide the NIEC with a temporary office and equipment.
Training has been provided on principles of electoral administration, the electoral cycle, gender responsive elections, and leadership, outreach and media skills. NIEC commissioners have received support to carry out study visits to Tanzania and Turkey during their national elections, and to South Africa to familiarize themselves on voter registration. The NIEC also received support to engage with and participate in activities organized by the Arab States Electoral Management Bodies Organization, which it also recently joined. IESG advisers will continue to work intensively with the NIEC as it establishes its secretariat and strengthen its capacity in preparation for 2020 elections.
Support is also being provided for the development of a legal framework for elections, including the electoral law that will define the electoral system for Somalia for the 2020 elections and beyond. IESG is supporting the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (MoIFA) to put in place a process for the development and drafting of the electoral law. This support will be extended to include consultations and a review of a draft electoral law with relevant stakeholders.
A training has also taken place on comparative electoral systems to facilitate a more in-depth understanding of the different types of electoral systems and their comparative advantages. To promote a better and uniform understanding of electoral terms, IESG is assisting the NIEC and MoIFA in their collaboration on a lexicon of electoral terms in Somali, Arabic and English. In coordination with other actors and stakeholders, support will be provided to inform Somalis of electoral developments through public outreach and civic education campaigns.
Mogadishu, 12 April 2016 - National Leadership Forum Communiqué, detailing modalities for the 2016 electoral process.