Somalia’s South West and Jubbaland states elect 14 members of the Lower House in first round of polling
Each state elected seven members of the House of the People – as the lower chamber of Parliament is officially known -- in an exercise that electoral officials, observers and electoral college delegates described as well organized and peaceful.
“The first phase of the elections went really well. There were no hiccups at all and the process today has ended peacefully. We have achieved our set goal for today,” said Mohamed Abdullahi Mursal, chairman of the South West State-Level Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (SIEIT).
Fowsiya Mohamed Sheikh became the first woman to be elected to the House of the People this year when she won a seat in South West State that was set aside for exclusively female candidates.
The former Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari was also among the seven MPs elected in South West State on the first day of voting. A total of 69 members of the House of the People will be elected from South West State.
Mr. Jawari said the 2016 electoral process represented a step in the direction of greater political participation for Somalis.
“Previously, we had only one person selecting a representative, today we have 51 delegates electing the leader of their choice,” said the former Speaker, referring to the number of delegates in each electoral college that vote for candidates for the House of the People.
Security was tight at the electoral centers, which were guarded by Somali security forces and soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia.
“Our job is to secure the elections in Southwest. Everything went well today and we are working day and night to ensure an incident-free election,” said Col. Mahad Abdirahman Adan, a member of the Electoral Security Task Force in Baidoa.
In Kismaayo, the process of electing 43 members of the lower house of Parliament assigned to Jubbaland also kicked off without problems. Three of the seven candidates who were elected to the House of the People today from Jubbaland are women.
The Jubbaland SIEIT Chairman Adi Ali Raghe described this year’s electoral process as a milestone for Somalia.
“It is the first time in the history of Somalia that Jubbaland is voting in free and fair elections. Although it is not a one-person, one-vote election, it is a positive step forward for Somalia and the people of Jubbaland,” the SIEIT chairman said.
A Jubbaland electoral college delegate said he had cast his ballot freely for the candidate of his preference.
“It is the first time in my life to attend such an election, and I gave my vote to the person who deserves my vote,” noted Abshiro Mohamed Abdi.
Voting for seats in the House of the People will continue for several days in the federal member states of Puntland, Jubbaland and South West. Galmudug and HirShabelle states have yet to begin voting for the lower chamber of Parliament.
A total of 275 members of the House of the People will be elected nationwide during the 2016 electoral process.