UN urges Somali leaders to chart way forward on 2021polls

UN urges Somali leaders to chart way forward on 2021polls

The United Nations (UN) office in Somalia has called on the country’s leaders to reach consensus on a way forward on holding a universal vote as early as March 2021.

In a statement issued in Mogadishu on Sunday, the UN lauded the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) chairperson Halima Yarey  for presenting electoral options to realise direct voting for Somalis. 

“Now that NIEC chairperson has presented electoral options, the UN in Somalia urges broad consultation among Somali political leaders to reach consensus on a way forward,” said the UN. 

It said the planned three-day meeting of the national government and the Federal Member States which is slated for early July is a good next step for the leaders to agree on the electoral process.

The UN statement comes after the poll body said on Saturday it will not be possible to hold elections this year due to technical and logistical issues including the security situation in the country. 

Halima Yarey, chairperson of NIEC said the poll body requires 13 more months to prepare a credible poll where Somalis will have an opportunity to take part in ‘one person, one vote’ election for the first time since 1969.

“The commission needs to register citizens, register political parties and the candidates,” Yarey told parliament in Mogadishu. 

She said the earliest Somalia can go to the polls is March 2021 if Parliament approves the manual voter registration option which she said could take only nine months as opposed to biometric registration which is costly in terms of acquisition and training of staff.

Somalia is preparing for universal suffrage elections, which will be the first of its kind after more than two decades since the outbreak of the civil war that followed the collapse of the government in 1992. 

However, the country’s opposition alliance (FNP) on Sunday said the electoral commission has lost public and political stakeholders’ trust and called for the entire commission to resign. 

FNP said they will not accept even a day of extension of the election date and blamed the NIEC, saying it’s blended with the leadership of the country.

The electoral commission defended itself, saying it’s an impartial institution and urged all stakeholders to stand with the commission to make this historic election a reality. -Xinhua

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