Somaliland’s upcoming presidential election on November 13 marks the first use of iris-based biometrics technology in an African election, according to a report by All Africa.

The first members of a team of 60 international election observers — who are hoping for successful and conflict-free Presidential elections — arrived in Hargeisa last week.

The British government funded International Election Observation Mission (EOM) was invited by Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC).

“The EOM is particularly hopeful that the implementation of the voter registration system will address issues that have marred previous elections, and looks forward to commencing its mission” the observers said in a statement.

“Team co-ordinators will examine all aspects of the pre-election campaign, including access by political parties to locations for campaigning, the equality of access to the media, and the procedures that will be employed for the distribution of election materials, voting itself and the counting and tallying of ballots.”

The full team of 60 international election observers originates from 24 countries.

“This election will mark a milestone in Somaliland’s electoral development as it will be the first time that the incumbent has not challenged for the top job,” Dr Michael Walls of DPU, chief observer on the EOM, said. “As ever, there have been complex realignments in the positioning of different groups, and a peaceful and credible poll would represent a significant step forward in the consolidation of the representative democracy that has become such an impressive hallmark of Somaliland politics over the past 15 years.”

Earlier this month it was reported that several African nations at different stages of their biometric registration processes announced new efforts to improve their identity systems.

By Justin Lee

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