In a special interview with the UN Special Representative and Ambassador to Somalia, Micheal Keating, has talked about range of issues in relation to the upcoming Somali elections scheduled to conclude at the end of this year, which included women representation, role of clan elders in MPs selection and concerns of corruption practices in the process, Garowe Online reports.
During the interview, Keating asked on how to ensure fair and credible election, and he acknowledged the wide use of bribery and illicit payments to buy votes.
“Vote buying and bribery are a reality. We know there’s a lot of money changing hands. You just read the Somali media” said Keating, relating it to the bribery allegations during the previous Somali elections in 2012.
“I think the important thing is that the voting, when it actually takes place, is secret, that there are no cell phones for example for people to take photos on how they voted and ultimately that moment you put your mark against a candidate’s name and put it in the box that’s a very secret moment and the results will be instantly communicated,” said Keating.
Keating also said: “So even though a lot of money may change hands up to that point there will be no way for those who are buying votes or selling votes to know whether an individual has voted in the way he/she said they would. So that’s quite interesting.”
He later explained the way to mitigate the influence of money in the parliamentary elections, he said: “We can put in place safeguards to not undermine but certainly that mitigate the influence of money in determining in the Lower House who gets elected as an MP.”
However, UN envoy’s statement comes amid the conclusion of Upper House elections in Puntland, Jubaland, Galmudug and Southwest state, which saw the selection of new senators for the Upper House chamber of the Federal Parliament.
Upper House candidates from all regional administrations have paid conditional fees of $10,000 to compete for the Upper House seats, which later were deposited into a UN account.
Reports indicated that the conditional fees have pushed many worthy candidates to drop out of the race, whereas other candidates secured campaign funds from Somali leaders.
According to an Upper House candidate who spoke on a condition of anonymity, told GO that states parliamentarians have received colossal payments in return for their votes during the casting session.
“The security situation in Somalia makes it difficult for people who receive bribes to get away from politicians who have links with terrorist groups or armed militias who can carry out assassinations,” added the source.
On the other hand, Lower House election is scheduled to begin soon and expected to be marred with payments and bribes, as some candidates are backed by Somali leaders-term ended in September 10- whose also presidential candidates, while others have barely secured funds from their clan leaders.