The United Nations Representative for Somalia Michael Keating has welcomed the progress in the democratic process in the horn of African nation but regreted reports of vote buying, fraud, intimidation and violence.
“The things that are worrisome of course is that you know the process is marked by a lot of things that are really frankly unacceptable. You know examples of intimidation, examples of candidate being prevented from putting their names forward or being prevented physically from going to locations, there is a lot of money changing hands,” the UN representative said.
More than 14,000 Electoral College delegates are voting for the 275-member Lower House of parliament, and so far, fewer than half of the members have been selected.
Regional parliaments are also electing the 54-member Upper House, where 80 percent of the seats have been filled.
“The fact that it is involving a large number of people relative to 2012 is already a success. Secondly it has federal features to it, two in particular, one is that the Upper House is coming to existence. And a bit like the US Senate the idea of the Upper House is to represent the states so that’s new. The second thing is that it is taking place around the country not just in Mogadishu.”
The run-up to the elections had Somalia watchers concerned that the al-Shabaab terrorist group will seize the opportunity to wreak havoc on the process but so far the group has not carried out any attack.
“At the moment the worst fears about Al Shabab targeting this process have not been realised. Some would say that the most vulnerable moments will be when the MP’s are elected and they all come to Mogadishu to elect speakers both for the Upper House and the Lower House and then elect a President. And Al Shabab violence has been largely directed or disproportionally directed at Mogadishu,” Keating said.
The presidential election is scheduled to take place on November 30, after the election of parliament is completed.
The vote had been postponed twice following disagreements on how to select new parliamentarians.