|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
Poor Skills And Logistics Blamed For Slowing Down Voter Registration Drive In The Sahil Region
Berbera, Somaliland, October 18, 2008 (SL Times) – A voter registration drive that was launched in Somaliland 's Sahil region on last Tuesday has reportedly been slowed down by the poor quality of enumerators' skills and the lack of basic logistical support.
The plan was that it would take 3 minutes to have one voter registered. But the registration teams were no where near achieving this speed. Three days after the registration began, their best score has been 20 minutes per voter.
In accordance with the National Electoral Commission's plan, the voter registration exercise was to last only for 5 days in every region. However with the slow pace of progress being made in the registration operation, most of the eligible voters in Sahil were likely to be left unregistered after the time-frame expires.
For example in the first two days since the launching of the exercise, only a total of 5000 people were able to register themselves in Berbera, the region's capital city.
The NEC has designated 106 registration centers to the Sahil region. However by Friday registration teams had yet to show up in over 20 rural localities.
The poor performance shown by the registration teams has been attributed to a combination of several different factors.
The computer operators seemed not to have been adequately trained on the registration software. The laptops they are using were given to them only on Monday and they were not allowed to open them until the registration has started. Many computers failed to function.
Some registration teams were even mistakenly provided with computers programmed to function only when registering voters in Borama.
Some teams were not able to work at all as their electric generators remained without fuel. The logistics were bad.
The NEC rented about 200 vehicles for the Sahil voter registration campaign. The contract was awarded by Interpeace to a ghost transport company headed by a Somalilander called Wardi Basbaas. The vehicles taking the registration teams from Hargeysa to Berbera were given a quantity of fuel that was just enough for making the trip to destination. The understanding was that they would get their daily gas allocation from a fuel station in Berbera. However after arriving in Berbera on late Monday afternoon, the drivers were shocked to learn that there was no fuel for them at the station in question.
Wardi was then detained by the police on Monday evening for questioning with regard to the fuel problem. He was freed after spending a few hours in police custody.
While all these problems were happening, the chairman and vice-chairman of the NEC kept their mobile phones in the switch off mode.
The NEC drew criticism from all sides. Opposition leader Faysal Ali Warabe accused the commission of criminal negligence. He called for an investigation to find out what he called “those responsible for recruiting incompetent people for carrying out the registration task.”
Meanwhile community leaders in Berbera demanded on Friday that the time-frame for the registration be extended for 7 more days.
The NEC has so far made no concrete response to this demand mainly because of budgetary constraints.
To consider extending the registration period, the NEC has to secure first the funds needed to cover the new costs that would have to be incurred as a result of the additional work involved.
The NEC is funded by the Somaliland government, the European Commission and countries such as the UK , USA , Sweden , Norway and Denmark .
It was not yet known what position the donors would take with regard to the NEC's current predicament.