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SOMWA holds a one-day open discussion on one-person, one-vote elections in Hudur, Southwest State Somalia

Hudur, Somalia 14 Jun 2023- The Somali Media Women Association (SOMWA) holds a one-day open discussion on direct elections in Somalia and the promotion of women’s political participation and representation.

Thirty invited guests from the face of Hudur and five panellists from women politicians, youth, the elderly, minority groups, and people with disabilities were in attendance at the panel discussion.

The aim of the open discussion was to raise awareness of the importance of each vote for the composition of the parliament, government, district councils, and eventually the country’s future and to provide platforms for communities to discuss the importance of citizens’ confidence in the results of direct, credible, and inclusive elections and how communities and the identified groups can contribute to building confidence in electoral processes.

Additionally, to advocate for a minimum women’s 30 percent quota, more women candidates, voters, observers, agents, and electoral staff are needed.

Before starting the discussion, SOMWA chairperson Shukri Bidhaan welcomed the guests, opened the event, and stated that it’s been 50 years since Somalia conducted its last universal vote, and for some time now, there has been indirect voting, which has been associated with the weakening of governing institutions, corruption due to a lack of accountability, and authoritarianism. She highlighted that she has never experienced direct elections and would like to see one.

The discussion was educational, experienced sharing, and political accusations against men. Answering the question, What is direct election?  Asma Mohamed, a young academic female from a youth organisation, stated, ‘’It is unfortunate that we, as the current generation, have not been lucky enough to see a direct election and vote for whom we want; nevertheless, we watch and read about the democratic world, so processes in which the country moves to free, transparent, and inclusive elections will definitely bring some sort of confidence to people.

On the contrary, Ali Adan Abdirahman, one of the Hudur local community leaders, talked about his experience as a person who saw people hitting the election polls and how he himself voted.

‘I am old enough to witness a direct election and would like to state that the election of one person and one vote is obtained through independence and clear choice, and trust is obtained from meritorious people without corruption, regardless of the person’s gender’.

Ali Adan from the disability group also said “People with disability are suffering in Somalia, it will be amassing to see someone from the disability community running for office in the country.  a person should be elected based on their education and ability to relate to people.”

Fadumo Abdirahman, women’s chairwoman of Hudur district, who was giving her views on what it means for women when the country moves to one-person-one-vote elections, stated, “Women have been oppressed and denied in the Somali political arena; some have been refused to hold office for reasons related to the fact that her husband and she are not from the same clan; the direct election will give us a ticket to politics,” and highlighted that she has trust in the public, whose mostly are girls and women, that they will have a chance to many women not only parliament seats but all public offices as well.

Similarly, answering the question of  Somali women in politics, Maryan Mohamed Omar, a local community leader, talked about her story of when she had run for a parliamentary seat and was rejected because of she is a woman and the seat was nominated for men. She mentioned that direct elections are a great opportunity for women, marginalised, and minority people in Somalia.’’

Likewise, Asma Mohamed, an academic, said, “As young women, our chances of holding public offices are very limited, but now women have the high hope to pass through the barriers put up by the clan elders into politics, and hopefully the direct elections will give women the confidence to join the institutional government’.

Haajiro Hassan, one of the participants, giving her opinions and experience, stated that one-person-one-vote simply means no cheating and no corruption; no one finds out who you voted for, but most remarkably, the current unelected people get elected, which I witnessed and voted for. I gave up on current politicians, and honestly, I do not like the existing election system. But she showed her expectation of future free and fair elections to be held across the country.

In summary, the discussion proved that the public is welcoming direct elections and is desperate to see people queuing for one-person-one-vote elections. This discussion also showed that the public knew some of their fundamental human rights were denied.

By. SOMWA Newsroom

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