By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) - As the ancient proverb goes, "there is many a slip between the cup and the lip", but if Somalia – often described as a 'failed state' – abides by the postponed timeline for this year's parliamentary and presidential elections, the United Nations would have reason to record success in a long-winded process.
The United Nations Security Council's 15 members in their meeting on August 19 adopted the Presidential Statement applauding the progress under way for the last four years, and underscored "the need to maintain the momentum towards democratic governance, with an inclusive, transparent and credible electoral process in 2016 as a stepping stone to universal suffrage elections in 2020".
The Council noted the consensus decision of Somalia's National Leadership Forum (NLF) to extend the timeline for the parliamentary electoral process until October 25, and the timeline for the presidential electoral process until October 30, to allow for the implementation of technical modalities for an inclusive process.
Further in the statement read out by the current Council President Ramlam Bin Ibrahim of Malaysia, the Council noted the NLF’s consensual decision to extend the current mandates of the federal institutions to respect this revised timeline.
Also noting that this electoral process is “an historic opportunity” to deliver more representative governance to the people of Somalia and to reflect Somalia’s diversity, the Council welcomed the NLF’s decision on representation of minority clans and the Banadiri community.
The Council urged the Government to ensure the transparent and credible electoral process in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and association, and commended the establishment of an electoral dispute resolution mechanism.
The Council urged all parties to take necessary steps to implement the provisions in the NLF communiqué of August 9, 2016, including the Government’s commitment to reserve 30 per cent of upper and lower house seats for women.
“Each of the four main clans should have 18 elected women MPs…The fifth clan should have nine elected women MPs. Women candidates will be charged half the contesting feel,” the communiqué said.
Commenting the decision, Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, said: “Our view on the basis of global experience...is that women’s participation in leadership makes politics better.”
“They tend to be better at raising issues of national concern while men focus on the power of their communities," he added.
Welcoming the August 9 statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that process for the upcoming polls is an important milestone in the country’s journey towards democracy.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson on August 9, Ban welcomed the announcement by Somalia's Federal Indirect Elections Implementation Team (FIEIT) of a timetable for the 2016 electoral process.
“The Secretary-General trusts that the agreed timetable will be adhered to, and urges all parties to refrain from any action that would cause further delay,” the statement continued, adding that the UN chief noted that the 2016 electoral process is an important 'milestone' in Somalia's journey towards democracy.
In that regard, he further welcomed the NLF's commitment to ensure transition towards a multi-party system by 2018, ahead of elections in 2020.
“The Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of Somalia's 2016 electoral process being conducted in a transparent, credible and inclusive manner, and in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the statement said.
Ban commended in particular the renewed commitment of the NLF to ensure that one-third of Parliamentary seats are set aside for female candidates. This is an “important signal” of the country's progress towards inclusive political governance that will allow all Somalis to enjoy the benefits of peace, the statement concluded.
In order to underline the importance it attaches to parliamentary and presidential elections in Somalia, the Security Council paid a one-day visit to the country on May 19.
“Somalia’s security in its broadest sense is a common concern of the international community and the whole region, and that is why such importance has been placed by the Security Council in a legitimate transfer of power later this year,” said Keating in a briefing to reporters at the conclusion of the Council’s visit.
“The message of the Security Council is very clear: the international community looks forward to elections in August 2016 and will do everything possible to support them being free and fair and on time,” he added.
The Council delegation was led by its then President, the Permanent Representative of Egypt, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, and the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Matthew Rycroft.
The officials held a series of high-level meetings with the Federal President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, regional presidents, civil society members, humanitarian organizations and senior UN and African Union officials.
The other Council Member States represented in the 27-member delegation include Angola, China, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. [IDN-InDepthNews – 20 August 2016]
Photo: Federal and Regional leaders of Somalia after the conclusion of the National Leadership Forum held in Mogadishu on 12 April 2016, which dealt with the 2016 electoral process, among other issues. UN Photo/Omar Abdisalan.
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