KAMPALA -To ensure Somalia is fully prepared for ‘one-person-one-vote’ universal elections in 2020/2021, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has organised a four-day workshop on electoral security and dispute resolution for senior government officials involved in election planning and management.
The workshop, being held in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, is aimed at developing a common strategy on how to organise and manage the country’s next elections to ensure they are peaceful, credible and inclusive.
Uganda’s Electoral Commission Chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, who opened the workshop, yesterday June 17, emphasised the importance of security in holding successful elections that both are peaceful and credible.
Justice Byabakama said the electorates must be secured to enable them to exercise their right to vote.
“The entire process of organising and conducting elections is a multi-stakeholder responsibility requiring that each one renders total support and cooperation to all the efforts in place to realise the desired goal,” he observed.
Somalia plans to hold the next elections through universal adult suffrage, unlike the previous ones, which were based on the clan system. AMISOM is currently helping Somalia develop capacity by training and providing technical support to the National Independent Electoral Commission of Somalia (NIEC) and other critical government agencies in election planning and management.
Justice Byabakama commended Somalia for its proactive approach in strategising for the next elections and urged those involved to continue working together to overcome challenges associated with the complex exercise.
The NIEC chairperson, Halima Ismail Ibrahim, echoed the sentiments, saying security will be a major factor in Somalia’s quest to achieve universal adult suffrage in the next elections.
Ms. Ibrahim observed that the electoral commission was currently verifying voter registration centres, adding that the country’s security forces will have a major role to play in securing the voting points.
“We are undertaking the verification of voter registration centres and we want our security officials to sit together and see whether the areas are safe. They have to give us direction because without security it will be difficult for elections to take place,” she noted.
In his welcoming remarks, the Head of the African Union Commission Department of Political Affairs, Guy Cyrille Tapoko, reassured Somalia’s electoral commission of the African Union’s continued support as the country prepares for the 2020/2021 elections.
“The success of Somalia will be the success of Africa and will ultimately contribute to our continental aspiration of achieving Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want,” said Mr. Tapoko.
Agenda 2063 is a blueprint and masterplan for transforming the continent into a future global powerhouse to realise inclusive and sustainable development
AMISOM Senior Political Officer, Hajji Ssebirumbi, said the workshop is part of the African Union’s capacity building and technical support to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to help it achieve universal adult suffrage in 2020/2021, in accordance with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.
Mr. Ssebirumbi said the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council mandated AMISOM to work with the FGS and the United Nations to help Somalia achieve peaceful, free and fair elections.
During the four days, participants will discuss security and operational challenges that might impede the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections in 2020/21. In addition, the participants will be taken through different electoral systems in Africa and how they resolve disputes.
This is the fourth workshop that the African Union is supporting in the build-up towards achieving universal adult suffrage, which will be the first elections of this kind since 1969.