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Jubbaland polls: Agency declines to extend listing period

Sunday August 18 2019

A man casts his ballot on November 16, 2016, in

A man casts his ballot on November 16, 2016, in Somalia. Jubbaland electoral agency has declined to extend registration period for presidential candidates beyond August 19, 2019. PHOTO | SIMON MAINA | AFP A man casts his ballot on November 16, 2016, in Somalia.

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Somalia’s Jubbaland electoral agency on Sunday rejected pleas from the international community to extend the reopened window for candidate registration beyond Monday.

The Jubbaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said it had consulted everyone involved in the polls before deciding the three-day window was sufficient for anyone to enter the race.

PRESIDENTIAL POLLS

“There are no additional steps required to improve the process as all necessary steps wee taken…the Commission believes all constitutional and legal requirements were taken on the conduct of electoral process in line with constitution and electoral laws,” Dr Hamza Barre, the Chairperson said on Sunday, in a letter addressed to the UN representative in Somalia James Swan.

“We decided the process of electing president to continue as planned.”

The move means the federal state polls will go on Thursday August 22, three days after the reopened window for registration shuts on Monday.

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But the journey to the polls have seen confusion mar its preparation. Mr James Swan, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General to Somalia had, on behalf of the UN, African Union, IGAD, Italy, Kenya, Denmark, US and UK pleaded for more days for candidates to register for the polls, arguing participation was key in ensuring divisions do not cause violence.

Other countries also joined the calls including Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, the European Union and France.

REGISTRATION

The initial registration window had ended on July 26. But on Friday, Dr Barre announced a 72-hour window for any more to enter, as long as they paid $30000 (or $15000 for females), are not married to foreigners and could prove they had a university degree.

The UN boss disagreed with period given as too short, even though he said the gesture was welcome.

The conditions imposed on candidates had seen a group of 12 aspirants under the banner of the Union of Presidential Candidates for Change create their own parallel electoral commission, arguing JIEBC was biased for incumbent Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe.

On Saturday, local MPs sworn in on Thursday elected their speaker, who will in turn conduct the elections in which legislators vote for the state President. Formally, JIEBC had listed six other candidates to compete with Madobe.

MADOBE
But the parallel group also swore in their ‘MPs’ and elected a speaker, ready for polls on August 21.

It is this confusion that saw the UN warn Jubbaland could end up divided along clan lines, giving militant group al-Shabaab to reclaim areas they had been ousted.

Mr Swan had warned that Somalia’s path to stability would depend on how Jubbaland elections ae accepted by parties, and insisted that only a single process could guarantee that.

Dr Barre accused the UN envoy of misunderstanding the electoral process in Jubbaland and insisted the process “enjoys the broadest support of the People of Jubbaland.”