Jubbaland’s key to electoral success is patience, dialogue, independence, tight security
On 24 November Jubbaland became the first Federal State in Somalia to conclude selection of candidates for seats in the House of the People. Now the state's electoral officials are being invited by other Federal States to share their recipe for success.
Mohamud Hassan Elmi, Deputy Chair of the Jubbaland State Level Indirect Electoral Independent Team (SIEIT) says they benefited greatly from the support of the state authorities which gave them the independence to conduct their work unhindered.
“The President H.E. Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe, at the time we came to Kismaayo called his cabinet and informed them that we (SIEIT) are independent and no one from his government can be seen in the election venue during the election process. He told them that he will not be in the venue and they should not be there. The president also advised the speaker of Jubbaland Parliament to convey the same message to his fellow members of the parliament, so we were free and doing our job independently this helped us conclude the elections successfully in Kismaayo,” Elmi said.
Elmi said disagreements were handled amicably.
“What we did was we located the elders and hosted them in a hotel, and brought them into the pavilion hall in which we conducted the elections. Every time they used to come here to take part in reconciliation sessions, and they usually come up with an agreement,” Elmi said.
“If they cannot agree on the delegates, we would sit with them and listen to their concerns and grievances as well as points of agreements. This was a long process and we did not react or try to impose our views ...we just let the elders decide and we made sure that all the sub-clans who shared one seat were part of the 51 delegates. I think that long process and many hours spent with the elders made us unique from other states,” he said.
Jubbaland security forces also played a key role in tightening security measures beginning from the airport and including vehicle movements in and outside the town.
“We carried out cordon search operations within the town daily. We deployed one hundred police officers to the election venue to secure the delegates and electoral bodies. The police officers were given electoral training protection by the UNDP and AMISOM Police,” said Jubbaland Police Commissioner Col. Hassan Kheyre.
The efforts made by the Independent Electoral Disputes Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM), which is mandated to address complaints from the ongoing electoral process, has also been singled out as an important contributor to Jubbaland’s success.
The body took a unique approach to resolving disputes, combining consultations with local SIEITs, and traditional elders. Disputes which poured in from the first day the team arrived, were tackled head on, IEDRM chair Omar Mohamed said.
According to Mohamed, most disputes were divided into three categories - internal disputes between sub-clans on sharing of parliamentary seats, complaints about the women’s quota and delegate selection.
“Initially male candidates were tried to contest for seats that were reserved for female candidates. But they were disappointed. Once the mapping was done, each and every clan owning at least three seats was supposed to give one seat to a woman; and it was mandatory,” Mohamed said.
“The male candidate whose seats were allocated to women could not accept this reality initially, so they made a lot of noises, complaints, accusations, claims, but we told them clearly that there was nothing we could do for them,” he said.
The third category of complaints involved delegates selection, distribution and submission of the lists of delegates. Many candidates complained of slim chances of being elected by the 51 delegates.
“These kinds of disputes were quite difficult to resolve, so we tried to use different mechanisms, such as clan mechanisms, also we referred these kinds of disputes to the relevant clan elders,” Mohamed said.
Satisfied voters like Ijabo Adan Kheyre (No relation to Police Commissioner Col. Hassan Kheyre) say they are thankful for the smooth running of the ballot.
“The election was a very successful one, free and fair. I cast my vote for the Member of Parliament I wanted to win. I voted for her to empower women, build maternity homes and schools for girls within the community. If all this is done then we will achieve our goals as women in the future,” Khyere said.