Press conference Hargeisa 30 September 2005 at 5.00 pm=
Dr. Kimmo Kiljunen, Member of Parliament (MP) Finland, former Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assemby, Leader of Finnish Obsrvation Team Organized by International Solidarity Foundation (ISF)=
Preliminary conclusions: Somaliland elections competitive and support democracy building but encompassing some expected difficulties
Self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland held its first official parliamentary elections on 29 September 2005. In addition to being the first official parliamentary elections in Somaliland, the curret elections were the first parliamentary elections in the whole area of Somalia since 1969. Somaliland hopes that successful elections will enhance her democratic development and statehood building and thus provide basis for inteernational recognition of her independence.
Altogether some 70 international observers from a dozen different countries participated in the monitoring of the Somaliland elections. The Finnish team organized by ISF was led by Dr. Kimmo Kiljunen, MP. According to him the elections were competititve and support democracy building but encomapssing some expected difficulties.
A competitive and pluralistic party system gave voters a genuine choice. Proportional representation system used in the elections was appropriate and the symbols used for identification of parties and candidates were necessary due to extensive illiteracy. The three political parties were able to campaign without obstacles throughout the country, although in the Eastern parts of Somaliland the elections were not held because of territorial dispute with Puntland. The National Election Committee (NEC) has been credible in its actions according to all parties.
In the elections day the electorate showed a strong enthusiasm and the voter turn-out was high. Long queues were observed throughout the day. All parties were represented as observers in all polling stations which made the voting procedure and vote counting credible.
Elections did however, fall short of several international standards. This includes the lack of reliable information about the number of voters due to lack of proper census. Furthermore there were gender imbalance in the number of candidates, public media was not equal to all parties and un-authorized spending of public money in campaigning was claimed.
In elections day double voting efforts were a constant feature, but frequently it did not succeed. In some areas the strict observance of the closing time prevented many people from voting, although they were in the queue and by election law they were eligible to vote. There was no secrecy in the voting practice, because in many cases everybody in polling station could witness the vote by illiterate people. Thus the integrity of the vote was questioned owing to clan influence and buying votes with khat and cash. Nevertheless by and large the elections day was calm and orderly and peacuful elections support the democracy building in Somaliland, according to Mr. Kiljunen.
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