Elections delay a risk to manipulation- UN envoy for Somalia

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The UN has expressed fears the extension of parliamentary and presidential elections by a month is a possible recipe for manipulation of the electoral process.

The UN special envoy for Somalia Michael Keating told the UN Security Council Tuesday the extension announced by the electoral teams on Sunday was a cause of concern and called on all actors involved to ensure fidelity of the process is observed to the latter.

“What is most critical at this point is that the new extension does not create additional space for manipulation or disruption by spoilers,” Keating said.

The envoy said the urgency and momentum must be maintained and that the additional time must be used to ensure that the process is ‘as transparent and credible as possible’.

The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team, FIEIT and its state level equivalent SIEIT Sunday announced the elections of members of the Lower House will take place between October 23 and November 10 while those of the president will be done November 30.

The electoral teams cited budgetary constraints, political challenges and security as reasons for the delay. Failure by clan elders to submit list of delegates who will elect members of the Lower House is also a major challenge, the teams said.

The electoral bodies, Goobjoog News has learnt are banking on fees from candidates which is expected to cover 25% of the budget. Out of the 40% which Somalia is supposed to raise for the elections, the Federal Government will contribute 15%. The international community has pledged to foot the remaining 60%. The poll exercise will cost about $14 million.

The bureaucratic nature of the funding process has also been an obstacle to beating deadlines, sources have told Goobjoog News. Delegates have to deposit their fees with a local bank which will in turn transmit to UNDP and finally handed to the International Organisation of Migration, IOM which is the trustee body responsible for managing all electoral funds.

Keating noted the challenges including threat of disruption by the militant group Al-Shabaab remain calling for concerted efforts to ensure the process which he called novel and exciting is successful.

“I am under no illusions about the challenges ahead and the scope for things to go awry. But if we remain vigilant and unified, this process could mark a positive, watershed moment for Somalia,” Mr. Keating said. But the road to peace and stability will still be long.

Amisom troops will be deployed in Adado town which is the de facto seat of Galmudug state and also the state’s polling station. The official headquarters of Galmudug, Dhusamareb is controlled by the Sufi moderate Islamist group, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a which opposed the formation of the state owing to what it termed as lack of inclusion in the process despite driving Al-Shabaab from the region.

Keating also called for the support of Amisom noting its troops are paying a heavy price to bring security for Somalia. “They need to be supported in their effort to take the fight to Al Shabaab-controlled areas,” Mr. Keating stressed.

The African Union Peace Commission announced this past week it had signed a €178 million with the European Union which covers the covers the period from 1st January to 30th September 2016. The funds will be cover allowances for AMISOM troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, as well as operational costs of the Mission.

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