As voting for Lower House seats enters second day, Somalis say they will hold elected officials accountable

Farah Aidarus Hersi, a youth from Kismaayo, Jubbaland, shares his opinion about the ongoing electoral process in Somalia on November 06, 2016. Jubbaland is in preparations to choose members of the Lower House of Parliament. UN Photo / Awil Abukar

6 Nov 2016

As voting for Lower House seats enters second day, Somalis say they will hold elected officials accountable

The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) welcomed the start of voting in Puntland for seats in the House of the People and said that voting for seats in that chamber of the country’s Federal Parliament can get underway in South West, Jubbaland and Galmudug states later this week.

Electoral college delegates in the Puntland state capital of Garowe cast ballots for ten seats in the House of the People on the first day of voting on 5 November, and two more seats were decided today. Another 25 seats allocated to Puntland will be voted on later this month.

“(The voting in Puntland) is a very important step and we are very pleased with it,” said FIEIT spokesperson Mohamed Keynan. “FIEIT is also urging other federal member states to complete their preparations so that the electoral process starts in their regions.”

The FIEIT also reported that preparations for parliamentary voting are going well in the recently established HirShabelle federal member state, Somaliland and the Banadir region.

And as the 2016 electoral process starts to gather momentum, some citizens say they will monitor the performance of their elected legislators after they take office.

A member of Puntland’s State-level Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (SIEIT) called on the 12 newly elected members of parliament (MPs) to remember their responsibilities to act in the interests of their constituents.

“We were used to a process where a few elders made decisions on behalf of everyone,” said SIEIT member Siyat Hussein Mursal. “Today, the decision is made on the ballot. My message to the members of parliament is they should realize that they will be accountable to the people who elect them to parliament.”

Mr. Mursal’s sentiments were echoed by other Somalis.

“We do not want a member of parliament who will make simply earn a salary and do nothing,” said Khalid Gure Ali, a clan elder in the city of Kismaayo. “We want an MP who will make us successful. That is the one we will support.”

Some Somalis say they intend to hold their elected representatives to high standards.

“What I hope for is a leader who is honest and strives for justice for all,” said Jowhar resident Abdirahman Abdikadir Hussein. “Someone who can lead us to prosperity, he should be someone who can unite us.”

One newly elected member of the House of the People said he hoped that Somalis would give their support to the country’s electoral process.

“I hope this encourages the people of Somalia to have faith in the process,” said MP-elect Omar Ismail Waaberi. “This is a good election, and we can now see democracy taking root.”