The UK-based team coordinating election observers for the forthcoming presidential elections in Somaliland has expressed its “deep concern” at political developments in the run-up to the vote on September 27.
Two of the three political parties in Somaliland have announced their intention to boycott the vote in recent weeks.
Catholic aid agency Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London and Somaliland Focus UK said in a joint statement: “While we remain committed to the need for an election as soon as possible, under the current circumstances the only possible outcome of a one-party race would be seen by a significant proportion of Somalilanders as lacking legitimacy.”
The statement continues: “We are therefore concerned about whether we are able to provide the coordination and observation role to which we have been committed to date, unless the situation changes markedly.”
The coordination team also urges stakeholders in Somaliland to come together to solve the “critical dilemma” surrounding the elections and calls on the country’s National Electoral Commission to ensure all political actors and parties who have demonstrated a commitment to participation in the electoral process are actively engaged as participants.
The team was invited to lead the election observation mission by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission in January. The team has been tasked with coordinating international election observers from four continents and preparing a report on the conduct of the campaign and poll following the vote. Support for the mission is being provided by the UK government.
Somaliland has long stood out as a “remarkable example of indigenous democracy in a corner of Africa that possesses more than its share of problems”, the statement notes.
It concludes: “Somaliland has a number of unparalleled opportunities to improve its standing internationally and domestically, with a successful presidential election standing as an essential next step on that path.”