August 11, 2019 KISMAYO (RBB NEWS) – The electoral body mandated to oversee the upcoming elections in Jubbaland has refuted claims the exercise slated for later this month lacks transparency and fairness noting it had done its best to deliver a credible poll.
Reacting to concerns raised by the UN and other international actors Saturday, the Jubbaland Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (JIBEC) said it had put in place measures to address the complaints but warned any delays could jeopardise the exercise including endangering lives of elders gathered in Kismayu for the exercise.
UN Special Representative in Somalia James Swan wrote to JIBEC Saturday seeking clarification on the manner in which the elders would settle on one candidate out of the three in the list for state assembly MPs. The UN chief also took issue with the vetting of presidential candidates noting the existing formula was likely to lock out potential candidates.
But in its rejoinder Sunday, JIBEC chairman Dr. Hamza Abdi Barre said the Commission has substantially addressed the two concerns. Following concerns from UNSOM, Barre said, the polls body extended the timeline for registration of presidential candidates from July 22 to July 26 and in effect registered 7 candidates. “JIBEC considers those seven candidates who have registered to be credible. The registration period for the candidates is now over,” Barre said in a letter addressed to UNSOM head James Swan.
The polls body chairman also warned reopening the registration portends a major security risk for the clan elders who are currently gathered in Kismayu. Noting that one elder was killed immediately their list was made public, Barre said the electoral body could not afford to risk the lives of the other elders by keeping them longer adding the resources to host them in Kismayu were thinning out.
But in what could generate further debate on the heavily contested poll, JIBEC said there were only five elders representing the various clans in line with the 4.5 formula. A letter addressed to UNSOM Thursday by a group calling itself Jubbaland Council of Elders put the number of elders at 15.
Barre said the five member Committee of Elders was selected from clan elders of Jubbaland and that the elders will work with JIBEC in vetting and selection of the members of the State Assembly.
Jubbaland Council of Elders had on Saturday lashed out at JIBEC and Jubbaland administration for ‘bias and plans to rig the election’.