Somalia elections credibility questioned as arbitrary team scrutinized over contentious verdicts

It has been an electoral process that has had its fair share of political intrigues. From a gun drama in a Jowhar polling station to alleged voter bribery and now contentious disqualification of tens of contestants by the Interim Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IEDRM) and the ongoing push and pull between the State Interim Electoral Team SIET and the Federal Interim Electoral team FIET.

SIET and FIET have been muscling over who has the mandate and last word to issue a certificate of confirmation to a winning candidate.

In the case of Hirshabelle  a gun drama that pitted two candidates in November 18  Youth Minister Mohamad Hassan Nuh and Ahmed Sheikh Noor ended up with the two been disqualified by the Federal State.

But it turned out later that the two were allowed to contest and Minister Nuh emerged the winner. He was issued by a certificate of confirmation as the MP at a ceremony in Jowhar by the State electoral board despite the gun incident.

That would not be  the last time that the two boards would clash. The federal board had called for nullification of 11 seats and the arbitrary board seeking for a re contest

Both  Puntland and South West SEIT boycotted the verdict.

“The nullification does not concern us since because there were no disputes  for the seats that IEDRN dropped”    Abdullahi Mursal head of South West electoral board made it clear when asked if the state would adhere to the arbitrary board directions.

Observers of the 2016 elections are now questioning who really is in charge of the process.

“As far as I know States have no mandate to issue MP Elects certificates. And certainly not to candidates twice disqualified” Swedish Ambassador to Somalia tweeted quoting a Radio Dalsan breaking tweet that Minister Nuh had been confirmed MP in a Jowhar ceremony.

The international community had seemingly been seen to be tight lipped over the sideshows that have continued to be part of the 2016 elections. Well that was until the 16 of December  when the UN together with European Union, Italy, Sweden United Kingdom and United States removed its gloves to talk tough on the issue demanding that   IEDRM explain criteria to have a re contest for a number of seats.

“Regarding the list of seats to be re- we requested an explanation as to how the  shortlist  of 24 seats under consideration by the IEDRM had been reduced to eleven i.e how the criteria for determining  the level of abuse had been applied to each seat” the statement said.

Our view is that the decision as to which seats are included should be at the basis of the gravity of the electoral abuse uncovered consistency in application of the IEDRM’s decisions” the statement farther said.

“If the decision to re-contest seats appears to be arbitrary and if the cases widely viewed as most egregious are not included in the list of seats to be re-contested then the credibility of the electoral process overall and the IEDRM is undermined” the statement said.

The international community had vowed to support the electoral process in the Horn of Africa country and says it will not want to see the process derailed in its final moments.

IEDRM is seen by Some Presidential candidates as a proxy of the current Parliament and President hence questioning its credibility and that of the elections.

“It is a kind of sabotage to derail the elections. It is a mess purposely done by the current government at the expense of the ordinary Somali citizen” Presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Prof Ali Gedi  told Radio Dalsan in an interview after he officially launched his campaign in Mogadishu.

“Its Villa Somalia that selected the board. There is no independent board these are all games and tactics used by the current member of parliament to lengthen their mandate” Gedi said.

“I am not backing down on my ambition to occupy Villa Somalia. I will use the same electoral process to give Somalia better and capable leaders it needs” He added.

Presidential candidate Abdirahman Abdishakur has gone farther to say that he is considering whether to contest or throw in the towel claiming that the IEDRM had become “part and parcel of candidate Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s campaign team”.

In a statement he condemned what he says is “direct interference” by Villa Somalia which should come to a halt.

“The Commission has deliberately endorsed elections of Mps who used intimidation and manipulation while at the same time disputing the victory of others who clearly used their genuine efforts thus helping the election campaign of contender Hassan Sheikh” Abdishakur said in his statement and called the international community to intervene.

Political analysts are of the opinion that considering the procedure in which the board members are selected is likely to affect some of its decision making mechanism.

“ Somalia is still in its toothing stage. These are the problems we are likely to be over with only when we will have a one man one vote system” Mohamed Abshir an analyst told Radio Dalsan.

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