Completion of Somalia elections more important than ever: UN Envoy

man putting ballot in a box during elections in front of national flag of somalia

The UN Special Representative for Somalia says while progress has been made in the country’s electoral process, it has been slow and uneven and that’s why James Swan is urging Somalia’s leaders to conclude lower house elections before the end of the year.

Swan welcomed the completion of the indirect elections for the Upper House of Somalia’s Federal Parliament, which began in July, and the start of those for the lower chamber, known as the House of the People.

“The completion of these elections is more important than ever so that all effort can return to the key governance, security, and development priorities in Somalia,” Swan said during a video conference with the UN Security Council.

While 14 women will be among the 54 Senators in the upper house, representing 26 percent of parliamentarians there, Swan said this figure falls short of the 30 percent quota for women’s participation.

The envoy said the UN will continue its engagement and support towards advancing the indirect polls, with clan representatives electing parliamentarians who will then vote for the president.

Only two of the 275 seats in the lower house have been filled so far, and 30 percent are also reserved for women.

“We continue to stress that women’s full inclusion and representation in political life, and in all sectors of life, is key for Somalia’s sustainable peace and development,” said Mr. Swan.

Somali women’s rights activist Asha Abdulle Siyad, who also addressed the Council, has been among those advocating for the 30 per cent quota.

“We are deeply concerned of the delays and the lack of concrete measures and schedules for the completion of the House of the People election,” said Siyad, Executive Director of the Somali Women’s Leadership Initiative.

“Further delay in the election is likely to affect women’s quota negatively as the attention of all concerned, including the international community will be focused on the urgent completion of the election, regardless of its outcome.”