Thursday, June 17, 2010

Somaliland: Co-ordinators of international election observers give cautiously positive assessment for the holding of election

  Co-ordinators of international election observers give cautiously
positive assessment for the holding of election

International development agency Progressio, the Development Planning
Unit at UCL and Somaliland Focus (UK) welcome the good progress being
made toward the holding of Somaliland's long-delayed presidential
elections on the scheduled date of 26 June 2010.

The three organisations, whose advance mission is now established in
Hargeisa, were invited in January 2009 by Somaliland's National
Electoral Commission (NEC) to act as coordinators of the international
observation mission for presidential elections in the
internationally-unrecognised Republic of Somaliland.

Given past difficulties, recent months have seen rapid progress
towards a free and fair election. The election looks set to take place
on the scheduled date. This is a clear indication of the effectiveness
of the new NEC, put in place after the parties agreed to a revised
timetable for elections.

Since campaigning started in early June, there have been no major
campaign-related incidents of violence. The agreement between the
three parties to hold rallies on separate days appears to be holding.
In security terms, an incident involving alleged political Islamists
in the town of Burco in early June regrettably resulted in the death
of a member of Somaliland's police force. This has given cause for
concern in the context of threats to disrupt the election, but also
demonstrates the preparedness of the Somaliland population and police.

 There are outstanding logistical issues to be resolved around the
security of observers, which are essential for the mission to proceed,
but we look forward to a speedy resolution of these. Michael Walls, a
joint co-ordinator, said "we hope to have around 70 international
observers from a wide variety of countries, along with 800 local
counterparts. Naturally, we are actively monitoring the security
situation in order to ensure that a balance is maintained between the
widest possible coverage of the poll and the personal security of the
observation teams."

His colleague, Dr Steve Kibble, said "we are encouraged by the
overwhelming desire of the people of Somaliland to see a peaceful
election, recognised as such both nationally and internationally. At
this stage, we expect that such an outcome can be achieved."

Notes to Editors

1.      For further information or to arrange an interview with a
member of the coordination team, contact Conrad Heine in Somaliland,
tel +252 2 409 5464 or by email at

2.      Somaliland's Presidential elections have been repeatedly
delayed. The poll has previously been scheduled for March/April 2008,
December 2008, March 2009 and September 2009.

 3.      Somaliland is situated in Somalia's northwest. It declared
unilateral independence from the failed Somali state in 1991 and has
since been a haven of relative peace whilst violence and instability
has characterised Somalia, its capital Mogadishu and more recently the
Gulf of Aden.

4.      Progressio's involvement in the mission follows its leadership
of the international monitoring team for Somaliland's inaugural
parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as "basically
free and fair".

5.      Progressio is an international charity with Catholic roots
that enables poor communities to solve their own problems through
support from skilled workers. And we lobby decision-makers to change
policies that keep people poor. For further information, see:

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