Media statement on the South African Observer Mission to Somaliland Parliamentary elections

25 September 2005

HARGEISA--The South African Observer Mission expressed its gratitude to Somaliland National Electoral Commission for inviting it to observe this historic 2005 Somaliland Parliamentary Elections due to be held on 29 Sept. 2005.

In a statement at arrival, the Mission said that its mandate was to observe the build up to the election, voting and the count on election-day.

"In this respect, this is a pivotal opportunity for South African institutions to support the people of Somaliland in their efforts to strengthen Somaliland's emerging democracy, stability and quest for free and fair elections according to international standards and the electoral laws of Somaliland." the statement said.

It added that South Africa was one of the strongest proponents of Africa's official development programme, NEPAD, (New Partnership for Africa's Development) and was one of the most reliable supporters of good governance on the African continent.

"South Africa's participation in observing the forthcoming elections in Somaliland will not be the first such endeavour. A South African team observed the Somaliland 2001 Constitutional referendum and Somaliland's first 2003 democratic Presidential Elections. In addition, a team in 2003 worked in Somaliland in the training of party political agents," it said.

The Mission noted that a South African election expert had been in Somaliland since July 2005 and had worked with the Somaliland National Electoral Commission.

The South African election team has now been joined by 12 observers from various high-profile sectors led by EISA, formerly known as the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa; members include policy research institutions, such as the Institute of Security Studies, Institute for Global Dialogue and Swiss Peace; diplomats; media correspondents, as well as members of the Gauteng government and the South African ruling party's African National Congress (see attached list of observers).

"The elections in Somaliland are regarded as unique in that it is hoped to be an application of democracy in a non-sovereign State. The South African Observer Mission would like to wish the people of Somaliland well in the up-coming elections..

"We are pleased to note and support the recent visit of the African Union's fact-finding delegation, led by the African Union's Deputy Chairperson, His Excellency Mr. Patrick Mazimhaka and his subsequent report back on Somaliland, submitted to the African Union's Executive Council meeting in July 2005.

"We will issue an interim statement on Friday, 30 September and a hold a press conference on our findings at 5pm at the Maan-soor Hotel after discussions with the National Electoral Commission."


For further information and interviews contact :
Miss Zahira Seedat, Co-ordinator of the South African Observer Mission.
Tel: mobile 407 951 Telesom & Maan-soor Hotel, Tel : 828 3628/39/40
e-mail: zahira@eisa.org.za
Issued by: South African Observer Mission, Hargeisa, 25 September 2005.


Press Statement by the South African Observer Mission to the Somaliland Parliamentary elections

30 September 2005 

A 12-person South African team was honoured to observe the first parliamentary elections in Somaliland held on September 29 2005. The team comprised a senior politician, diplomats, scholars, election specialists, researchers and media. Some of them have observed Somaliland's constitutional referendum and presidential elections.

 The team was deployed in three of Somaliland's six regions, ranging from the capital Hargeisa to central rural towns. They visited a total of 71 polling stations to observe voting and counting of the ballots. In this exercise they enjoyed the full co-operation of the National Electoral Commission. They could not stay for the announcement of the final result. Members interfaced and co-operated fully with other international observers before and during the voting and counting. A detailed interim report will be released on 1 October 2005.

 After consulting today, the team notes that the election process proceeded very peacefully and without any sign of intimidation. It was heartened by the high turnout of voters, particularly women. However, it noted the small number of women candidates.

 Members were gratified to see another example of long lines of fellow Africans waiting patiently under the hot sun to have their voices heard through the ballot box.

They observed that the process was transparent.

 While they noticed numerous administrative and logistical shortcomings, members able to make the comparison noticed many improvements over previous elections.

Considering the particular context of Somaliland, team members judged the elections to be largely successful. However, more could be done regarding voter education.

 Nevertheless they believe the parliamentary poll is a creditable final piece in Somaliland's democratisation process achieved largely through its own efforts. On the whole the team believes the 2005 parliamentary election broadly reflects the will of Somalilanders.

"We believe this peaceful Somaliland parliamentary election has served democracy well and is a key signpost in Somaliland's democratic development and history", said mission leader Mandla Nkomfe

Mandla Nkomfe Leader of the South African Observer Mission (Mr. Mandla Nkomfe is Chief Whip of the ANC in the Gauteng Legislature)

For further information and interviews contact : Miss Zahira Seedat, Co-ordinator of the South African Observer Mission. Tel: mobile 407 951 Telesom & Maan-soor Hotel, Tel : 828 3628/39/40 e-mail: zahira@eisa.org.za  

Issued by: South African Observer Mission, Hargeisa, 30 September 2005