SOMALIA / DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

21-Nov-2022 00:05:43
Somalis’ democratic rights in the spotlight of public discussions supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. UNSOM
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STORY: SOMALIA / WOMEN PEACE SECURITY
TRT: 05:43
SOURCE: UNSOM
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT UNSOM ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / SOMALI / NATS

DATELINE: 16 NOVEMBER 2022, MOGADISHU, BAIDOA, KISMAYO, JOWHAR, SOMALIA
SHOTLIST
16 NOVEMBER 2022, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

1. Wide shot, round of public consultations on democracy and elections, Mogadishu
2. Close up shot, participant taking notes
3. Med shot, person living with disabilities speaking
4. Med shot, participants attending a public forum
5. Med shot, young people attending a public forum
6. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Fartum Adan Heefow, youth leader:
“We hope our country will fully embrace democracy by adopting the one-person-one-vote model. Everyone eligible should be able to contest or vote for the candidate of their choice. If this happens, it will be a huge opportunity for the youth to offer themselves political office. In addition, a government elected by the majority of its people will be more responsive to the electorate's needs.”

16 NOVEMBER 2022, GAROWE, SOMALIA

7. Aerial shot, Garowe Town
8. Wide shot, panel discussion in session
9. Close up, participant listening
10. Med shot, youths listening
11. Close up, participant speaking
12. Close up, participant listening
13. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Garaad Abdullahi Ducaale, clan elder:
“For this country to move forward and for our government to have real legitimacy, we need to have a one-person, one-vote election in which every eligible citizen participates. Our democracy will be strengthened if we hold universal, free, and fair elections. Indirect elections take away the legitimacy from our government.”
14. Close up, elder speaking
15. Close up, youth listening
16. Med shot, religious leader attending
17. Wide shot, youth speaking
18. Wide shot, panelists at the event

16 NOVEMBER 2022, BAIDOA, SOMALIA

19. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Salima Sheikh Shuceyb, panelist:
“The 4.5 system is a challenge faced by every Somali, not only by women. If there is one person, one vote election, we [women] will give our vote to anyone we feel we can count on for our rights. It doesn't matter a man or a woman; we want to elect someone who can be trusted. If all Somalis come together, one person, one vote election will benefit the entire Somali nation. Still, I want to encourage women to cast their votes, be heard, and participate in politics.”
20. Wide shot, participants attending a public forum
21. Med shot, panelists discussing
22. Close up, panelist at the discussion
23. Med shot, participants attending a public forum

16 NOVEMBER 2022, KISMAYO, SOMALIA

24. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Muya Mizan Muya, youth participant:
“If we adopt the one person, one vote method, capable young people will no longer have to go through clan elders. Direct elections will allow us to be elected based on our campaign strategies and the manifesto presented to the people.”
25. Med shot, panelist speaking
26. Med shot, participants attending a public forum
27. Med shot, participants attending a public forum
28. Close up, participant attending a public forum
29. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Dalmar Adow Maalin, aspiring politician:
“I want to run for political office, but I am at a disadvantage because I am visually impaired and come from a small clan with no say on who becomes elected as our representative. The only chance I have is if direct elections take place.”

16 NOVEMBER 2022, JOWHAR, SOMALIA

30. Wide shot, participants attending public forum
31. Med shot, participants listening
32. SOUNDBITE (Somali) Fatima Mohamed Ahmed, women’s representative:
“We need to move away from indirect elections to one-person-one-vote so that women can freely campaign for political office or vote for candidates of their choice.”
33. Close up, participant listening
34. Med shot, religious leader speaking
STORYLINE
Somalis’ democratic rights in the spotlight of public discussions supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

The public discussions held in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayo, Garowe, and Jowhar in October and November brought together members of civil society representing women, youth, elders, persons with disabilities, minorities, and marginalized groups, as well as local media.

Participants spoke about the need for one-person, one-vote elections rather than the current indirect elections that limit voters’ rights to elect leaders of their choice.

They agreed that direct elections would benefit the country.

“We hope that our country will fully embrace democracy by adopting the one person, one vote model,” said Fartun Aden Hayefow, Chairperson of the Middle Shabelle Youth Association, addressing the audience gathered in Jowhar.

“Everyone eligible should be able to contest or vote for the candidate of their choice. If this happens, it will be a huge opportunity for the youth to contest political positions. In addition, any government elected by the majority be more responsive to the electorate’s needs,” Hayefow added.

In the discussions, the opinions of the various groups about the future of democratic rights in Somalia often echoed each other.

“For this country to move forward and for our government to have real legitimacy, we need to have a one-person, one-vote election in which every eligible citizen participates. Our democracy will be strengthened if we hold universal, free, and fair elections. Indirect elections take away the legitimacy from our government,” said Garaad Abdullahi Ducaale, a clan elder from Mogadishu.

Since 2004, Somalia has been holding indirect elections through which traditional leaders select clan delegates, who elect parliament members.

The members of parliament then elect the president of the country.

These clan elders work under the 4.5 system, which gives the country’s four major clans the same weight, while a group of minority clans gets the remaining half a point.

Some criticized this method during the discussions for excluding the majority of Somalis from direct voting.

In the words of one of the panelists in Baidoa, Salima Sheikh Shuceyb: “The 4.5 system is a challenge faced by every Somali, not only by women. If there is one person, one vote election, we will give our vote to anyone we feel we can count on for our rights. It doesn't matter a man or a woman; we want to elect someone who can be trusted. If all Somalis come together, one person, one vote election will benefit the entire Somali nation. Still, I want to encourage women to cast their votes, be heard, and participate in politics.”

Somalia has one the world’s biggest ‘youth bulges’ – that is, around 60 percent of its estimated population of 16 million people is under 30, according to the World Population Prospects, produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The significant number of young people means a greater need to deal with challenges related to their education, employment, and various other issues, including their representation in the political and government spheres.

“If we adopt the one person, one vote method, capable young people will no longer have to go through clan elders. Direct elections will offer an avenue for us to be elected on the strength of our campaign strategies and the manifesto presented to the people,” said student leader Muya Mizan Muya on the sidelines of the public discussion in Kismayo, Jubaland State.

Creating an enabling environment for persons living with disabilities to fully participate in political processes as candidates or voters featured prominently during the discussions.

“I want to run for political office, but I am at a disadvantage because I am visually impaired and come from a small clan with no power or say on who is elected as our representative in the 0.5. The only chance I have is if direct elections take place,” said Dalmar Adow Maalin, a 32-year-old visually impaired aspiring politician from Mogadishu.

Based on the provisional constitution adopted in 2012, the electoral process stipulates that women must make up at least 30 percent of the seats in parliament.

However, there are no policies or laws to protect this quota, a situation made worse by the power of the traditional leaders and religious scholars under the 4.5 clan formula.

Fatima Mohamed Ahmed, a women’s representative in Jowhar, Hirshabelle State, said that a country could not make progress if it left the majority of its people (i.e., women) unrepresented and kept away from decision-making processes in matters that affect these people’s lives.

“We need to move away from indirect elections to one person, one vote so that women can freely campaign for political office or vote for candidates of their choice,” she added.

The public discussions, supported by UNSOM, are part of ongoing efforts to promote the inclusion of all Somalis in having a say in the future of their country.

The UN and international partners are committed to continuing to provide political, financial, technical, and logistical support to Somalia’s electoral process.
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