The process of electing by vote of a person or persons from among candidates for a political office is one of the most important engagement in which individuals can undertake during a lifetime. The process of election at times could be fair and free and sometimes is the opposite. The later can cause violence that may bring lost of life and property. A nation whose system of election is fragile cannot do election, if they do it, they will end up with violence. Nevertheless, if Somaliland will hold election in the years to come, it should be different from the bizarre election system seen recently and it should be conducted in reasonable manner then the outcome is rewarding because politicians elected are accountable for their actions to the people. By the way, one of the important things in election is who an individual votes for can have an enormous impact on the lives of the people.
The polling stations of Somaliland in general and Awdal in particular was designed by former president Rayale aiming to favor of some communities than any other community. Even though the magnitude of the problems inherited from earlier regimes, the current government made no improvements to electoral system. There are loopholes within the election system in Somaliland where geographic size of the constituency is very large for a candidate. In Awdal for instance polling stations are concentrated heavily in some parts of Baki district while in Borama city the polling stations are insufficient meaning communities enclosed by many ballot boxes are able to produce more legislative body while areas with inadequate polling stations produce smaller number of candidates than potentiality. if there is a fraud within the election, under this system some of the tribes dwelling in Awdal region are even made more vulnerable to lose seats in both parliament and local council elections as polling stations were set by design but not in accordance with population settlements. Thus, communities whose candidates failed to win for district council are the ones whose polling stations on purpose made not enough.
The other irregularities observed during the election in Somaliland was moving large number of voters from one area as far as Ethiopia or Djibouti into the polling stations of Borama, lughaya and Zeila prior to an election aiming to jam ballot lever of the local people thus, causing local communities vulnerable to lose candidates for the purpose. Given, the scarcities of the populations in coastal areas with sufficient number of polling stations cause both districts (lughaya and Zeila) local candidates are prone to lose candidates and the area is vulnerable for systematic rigging.
In majority of African countries, there are always irregularities that cannot be seen at the polling stations but trouble begins when ballot boxes returned to the district election commission center; it is where rigging and altering ballot papers in favor of favored candidates started. When results announced no complaints are taken into account for the reason that the governments in Africa do not want the fabrications of the election results that have occurred during the elections to be revealed because they are of the view if any vote rigging were revealed it would affect both the election commission and the government.
However, in the latest elections of Somaliland given irregularities, fraud and unlawful voter suppression tactics that could have brought Somaliland on the edge to collapse is a continuing concern until necessary reforms made to electoral process in our country.
It is in the need of the hour to invent comprehensive restructuring plan with complete system from top to bottom reallocating polling stations in accordance with the population settlements, introducing identity card and voting card system in order to bring an end manipulation of demography. We have to refurbish and strengthen rules and regulations governing election commission and the electoral system to bring our electoral system on par with the developed countries.
Blame goes to the politicians of different parties, government and both houses of the parliament, intellectuals and educated elite who failed to address the weak points of the Somaliland electoral process well before the election. Had we been reformed the system earlier we could have avoided violence occurred in each nook of Somaliland.
People are not willing to trust the election commission any more given the above mentioned. Enacting policies that protect voters will help reinstate confidence and integrity of our electoral system. In addition, we need reforms correcting the irregularities and injustices and other malpractices likewise seen in the recent elections. To that end, we need to modify our election system keeping away from similar incident of the past to occur again because anything that enhances the election system enhances transparency in democracy and above all the government system.
Mr. Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi