How our Election Series is informing policymakers and citizens on Somalia elections

A year ago (July 2019), Somali Public Agenda team began its Election Series, a series of briefs and commentaries concerning elections in Somalia. The aim of the series is to inform policy makers, practitioners, and citizens and provide a balanced analysis on election-related themes.

The Election Series was self-financed; and SPA did not seek financial support from other organizations. Some of the profits generated from the translation services by SPA subsidiary company – Tayo Translations – were directed towards and financed the SPA’s work on elections.

In one year, Somali Pubic Agenda managed to produce seven papers – three governance briefs and four commentaries – on election-related topics. The first brief critically reviewed the technical issues of election design contained in the national electoral bill, including voter registration, seat allocation, announcement of election results, dispute resolution mechanisms, independence of NIEC, and election observation. The paper also made broader comments on the framework for democratic governance in Somalia (election of the President, election of the Upper House, and election delays) and put forward options for policy consideration. The second brief examined the relaxed provisional party registration process, highlighted the daunting challenges ahead for full party registration and voter registration hurdles. The third paper provided a comparative analysis of the election bill and political parties law and presented specific provisions that need harmonization.

SPA started 2020 with an analysis of the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) electoral model passed by the House of the People of Somali Federal Parliament. The FPTP model was a radical shift of Proportional Representation – Closed List model approved by the Council of Ministers in early May 2020. When the Upper House approved the national electoral bill and it was signed by the president, SPA published a governance brief analyzing the limitations of the election law, and political and security challenges surrounding its implementation. Last month, we published a commentary analyzing the election regulations prepared by a joint ad hoc parliamentary committee. Finally, this month (July 2020), SPA published the seventh paper of the Election Series, presenting a middle ground electoral model for Somalia.

To increase public awareness on elections, Somali Public Agenda embarked on Podcasts in the Somali language discussing elections. Four podcasts on elections were posted between October 2019 and April 2020.

Since the commencement of the Election Series, Somali Public Agenda researchers and analysts have been invited to present election papers at various conferences. Our researchers also gave two election briefings to the senior leadership of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Apart from the feedback received from academics and civil society actors, SPA received emails and feedback from members of Somali Federal Parliament. When we published a brief on the election bill in July 2019, a member of the 15-member House of the People ad hoc committee reflected: “Your analysis very objectively addressed some of the ambiguities of the bill, and I agree with the conclusions drawn from the analysis. When we start deliberations on the bill, we will contact you to get your insights and input to improve the bill with the intention of holding [a] fair and free election that contributes to democracy and good governance.”

The Somalia Federal and State leaders in a recently concluded conference in Dhusamareb agreed to hold the federal election on schedule — in 19-22 July, 2020 — and explore what is possible in the remaining period of time. The SPA team shared our middle ground electoral model commentary to key policy makers at federal and state levels.

Somali Public Agenda will continue informing policymakers and citizens of Somalia as well as the international community on Somalia elections at this critical time. SPA welcomes and very much appreciates comments, feedback, and ideas relating to Somalia’s anticipated elections.

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