Speakers at the regional electoral workshop in NairobiiBadrieh Al-Bilbisi (EMBs), Halima Ismail Ibrahim (NIEC Somalia) and Gerald Mitchell, Director of the UN Electoral Support Group © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie

Crucial step to ‘one person, one vote’, Somalia discusses registration of political parties

Jul 11, 2017

International experts are this week meeting for a three-day conference in Nairobi, in preparation for ‘one person, one vote’ elections in Somalia in 2020–2021. The conference brings delegates from Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Jordan, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Kenya together with Somalia’s Electoral Commission members, to discuss political party registration as a critical first step on the path to universal elections. A first of its kind, the event, which began on Monday, will close on 12 July.  

Political party registration in Somalia is governed by the Political Parties Law, which came into effect in September 2016, and serves as the overall basis for the commission to register and regulate political parties. The Somali National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) has established a Secretariat of 28 staff led by a Secretary General, and a political party registration office.

Ms. Halima Ismail Ibrahim, Chair of the National Independent Electoral Commission, highlighted the progress made towards the 2021 elections in Somalia.

“We are committed to conducting ‘one-person one-vote’ elections in 2021; we have developed a 5 year strategic plan for the pre-election, election and post-election period,” she explained. 

Speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Arab Electoral Management Bodies, Ms. Badrieh Al-Bilbisi, Secretary General, said: “The role political parties play in developing democracy is critical. We have to base the registration of political parties on standards that guarantee human rights, democracy, rule of law and the principles of  transparency and  inclusiveness.”

“Political parties should also uphold inclusive membership rights, in particular those of women and minorities,”  she added.

Gerald Mitchell, Director of the UN Integrated Electoral Support Group, underscored that the registration of political parties is the first step in the development of a pluralistic, democratic, competitive and accountable party system in Somalia. 

“The fundamental point of an election is to offer voters distinct political alternatives within a regulated framework of competition,” he said.

“We are very pleased to support this conference and to hear comparative examples of political party registration by other Arab and African election bodies,” Mr. Mitchell concluded.

Organised by Somalia’s National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) in partnership with the Organisations of Arab Electoral Management Bodies (Arab EMBs), the conference is supported by the United Nations Integrated Electoral Support Group (IESG) and the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Hub for Arab States. It is funded by the UK, the EU, Italy, Germany, Norway and Sweden.


National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC): The NIEC, constitutionally mandated to organize and conduct elections, was formed in July 2015 with the appointment of nine commissioners, two of them being women. The Commission’s mandate was established by the February 2015 Law on the Establishment of the Electoral Commission, which states that the Commission is responsible for managing all future elections.

Arab EMBs: The Organization of Arab Electoral Management Bodies (Arab EMBs) was officially launched on 8th June 2015, in Beirut, Lebanon as an independent non-political organization aimed at sharing best practices and enhancing regional cooperation among Arab Electoral Management Bodies. The organization is the first of its kind in the Arab world, and currently has nine members representing the electoral bodies of Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Mauritania. Somalia’s National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) became a member of this organization in June 2016.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Hub for Arab States: UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States established, in 2015, a new Regional Hub in Amman, to provide effective, responsive support tailored to the emerging and changing needs and priorities in the region. 

United Nations Integrated Electoral Support Group (UN IESG): The UN IESG was established in 2015 and consists of United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) electoral specialists. It provides technical assistance to the NIEC and to the Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation in Somalia.  


Ali Al-Bayati, Legal Advisor, United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM); (m) +252  619 968 214 (Somalia)

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