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Somalia Federal Electoral Commission Composition: Reversing the Minimum Gains of our Emerging Democracy

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Sunday June 19, 2016 - 22:35:18 in Articles by Super Admin
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    Somalia Federal Electoral Commission Composition: Reversing the Minimum Gains of our Emerging Democracy

    The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) wishes to react to the latest announcement by the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, on the composition of the nation's federal electoral commission.

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The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) wishes to react to the latest announcement by the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, on the composition of the nation's federal electoral commission.
 

From the onset, we wish to be put on record that we make this statement in full recognition of our rights to express our views and positions on how we should be governed as one of the basic prescriptions of democracy, but that importantly, we make this statement because we know that we owe it to our emerging democracy, people and communities to make progressive contributions that will engender and consolidate this nascent democracy.

Having said these, FESTU wishes to state categorically that this latest announcement by the President of the Republic on the composition of the electoral commission is made clearly in bad taste, wrong logic and without an incline for fairness, transparency and progress. We say these because we find it incomprehensible that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will pile up the commission with persons and personalities with known and open preferences and interests in the elections that they are supposed to supervise.

Given that there is still no electoral law as stipulated and provided for in the provisional constitution of Somalia, we would have thought that the President and the Federal Government will consult widely and genuinely to include non-partisan organisations, social partners and personalities to represent broad and diverse constituencies, including members of the Civil Societies. Sadly this has not happened, thus a serious disservice to our emerging democracy has occurred for which all persons and organisations of goodwill and conscience must raise up and speak up against this disservice.

FESTU feels that to so compose the electoral commission with active and partisan persons and personalities, including Federal & Regional Ministers as well as parliamentarians who may be vying for parliamentary seats, is to deliberately set booby-traps and avoidable obstacles for the entire electioneering process. In essence, this singular action is meant to create mistrust amongst entities that would be contesting the elections, as well as the electorates. Similarly, this composition is capable of widening fault lines and re-igniting parochial and divisive sentiments and tendencies that we think the country has gradually been working to get away from.

Some of the basic tenets and characteristics of electoral commissions world over are: fairness, transparent, credible, professionalism, patriotism, open-mindedness, rules-based and abiding, and non-partisanship. We say unequivocally that the character and profile of the Electoral Commission, as appointed by the President of the Republic peopled by persons with open and market-place political ambitions is totally flawed. In essence, this presidential appointment has patently betrayed and undermined the minimum tenets of democracy.

Furthermore, the result will be that the electorates’ apathy and cynicism for the coming elections will be dampened, and contesting candidates will consider the outcomes of the elections pre-determined, thus undermine the credibility and acceptance of the results.

FESTU therefore calls on the President of the Republic to quickly rethink this present unacceptable composition and seek reappointment of persons and personalities that will do justice and fairness to the electioneering process. To so recompose the Electoral Commission will be seen as an act of courage, strength and vision.

Moreover, FESTU calls on Somalis and the broader civil society community to continue to make contributions that will engender our emerging democracy and refuse to act harshly and in haste on account of this present development. Our dissents and disagreements must be done and organised in decorous, tolerant and progressive manners. We must resist and overcome the temptations to take actions that will draw us backwards.

Finally, FESTU will continue to monitor this development and other related developments, as well as the entire electioneering process with the view to blow the whistles where conducts breach and undermine democratic norms and threaten our collective resolve to move Somalia forward together in progress.

Omar Faruk Osman

General Secretary

Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU)

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