Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Somaliland's Election Commission appeals for international funding of Presidential elections
HARGEYSA, 26 MARCH 2003 (IRIN) - Somaliland's Electoral Commission has urged international donors to plug a gap of about half a million US dollars it says it needs to organise the self-declared republic's first multiparty presidential polls on 14 April.

The Electoral Commission, which was set up in December 2001 ahead of Somaliland's first multiparty local elections, says the extra money is needed for election logistics and voter education.


"We had a lot of experience from that election," Commission chairman Ahmed Haji Ali Adami told IRIN. "There were some difficulties, we learned a lot of lessons, we put them on a very long list and we are trying to improve according to our ability and according to the finance we receive."

For the presidential poll, the Commission says it submitted a budget request to the Somaliland government of $1.5 million, but was granted only about $1 million. Although it has received some financial pledges and training support from the international community, Commission members told IRIN that donors had been less forthcoming this time.

For example, the European Union (EU) provided support for voter education in the local elections but has not extended funding this time.

"The reason is political," said Commission member Mohammed Sheikh Abdillahi. "Supporting a presidential election in a country that is not recognised would be construed as a political act."

The Electoral Commission nevertheless hopes to receive support from individual countries, notably Britain, Norway and Switzerland.

The Electoral Commission has seven members. Three were selected by the government, two by the House of Elders and two by opposition parties. Two opposition candidates are running against incumbent president Dahir Riyale Kahin. There will be only one round of voting, with the winner requiring a simple majority.

The lack of a proper census means that there is no voter list. The Commission says it abandoned attempts to register voters in advance of the local elections, because it did not have the means. Read more

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