By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The recent rejection by parliament of an election law amendment has been termed as an impediment to proper election management.
According to the chairman of the National Election Commission-NEC Isse Yusuf Hamari, parliament's rejection of the amendment pertaining to the use of candidate symbols will not only ensue in a trebled election expenditure but managerial nightmare as well.
During a briefing to the Parliament's lower House of Representatives Commissioner Isse Yusuf told legislators the desire to remove candidate symbols was as a result of the large number of candidates who will vie for seats during forthcoming local council elections nationwide.
Said he, "Take an example of the city municipality where 25 councilors will be elected which means that each of the nine contesting political parties will field 25 candidates each thus a total of 225 candidates in Hargeisa"
The Election boss informed the honourable members that placing 225 symbols plus the names of candidates and their parties in one size A3 paper was next to impossible, thus the reason behind the amendment to the law.
While concurring with the parliamentarians that a large number of the country's voters were illiterate, the main reason used to justify the amendments rejection, Commissioner Isse Yusuf said that outcomes of a mock election undertaken by NEC less candidate's symbols proved otherwise.
On rejecting the proposed amendment which would have legalized the non-use of candidates symbols both houses of parliament (Guurti & Representatives) attributed their unanimous decision to the large number of illiterate voters, whom the honourable members claimed would be unable to vote correctly.
Commissioner Isse Yusuf informed the legislators that of the 200 participants in one day mock elections which were termed perfect by international observers who were present 100 were illiterate, Said he, "In regard to the results of the mock elections the issue of illiteracy is negligible while the use of symbols is a managerial nightmare"
As per NEC fixing a date for the overdue local council elections Mr. Isse Yusuf Hamari said that while preparations have started in the regions where commissioners are currently making arrangements in Sanaag for opening, staffing and equipping NEC regional and district offices, the date will be announced once all budgeted funds are availed.
The NEC chairperson informed that while the government has already submitted its 25% share of the budget with another substantial amount received from international donors, Said he, "as soon as the balance due from our international partners is availed we shall fix a date since NEC has finalized all arrangements"