The role of election observers in Somaliland

This report is a record of a Forum event held on 5 November, before the 13 November 2017 election day. Election day itself was largely peaceful, and the international observer mission reported only minor irregularities on election day, including vote buying and violation of secrecy during voting. However, inflammatory and divisive rhetoric, and allegations of rigging by the opposition, led to violent protests both before and after the elections. The incumbent Kulmiye party was declared victorious on 21 November, followed by the opposition’s concession the following day. The event and its record focused on the international Election Observation Mission’s (EOM) assessment of the National Electoral Commission’s (NEC) preparations for the elections, the broader role observers play and the methods they employ to fulfil that role, in the lead up to the elections. The event was organized in collaboration with the international EOM and the University of Hargeisa’s Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS).

International observation missions have been participating in Somaliland elections since its first presidential elections in 2003, adding credibility to the process and assessing whether the elections were free and fair. The November 2017 election EOM was composed of 60 people hailing from 27 countries.