Friday, April, 27, 2018, Somalia’s National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) have concluded a three-day training exercise in Nairobi and say they are now ready to begin the process of redrawing Somalia’s electoral boundaries.

NIEC chairperson Halima Ismail Ibrahim emphasized that her team will begin the electoral boundary limitation in 2019, ahead of the one-person-one-vote elections that Somalia hopes to hold in 2020.

“When I was coming from Mogadishu, I didn’t have the knowledge that I have now. We thought that it was a simple thing, the delimitation of boundaries for elections, and we were planning to do it around 2019 but before we start we need to take (various) steps, you need a lot of principles to follow, you must have a legal framework whether it’s from parliament or from the NIEC, we have found that we are in a real critical situation. We must start the process as soon as we go back,” the NIEC chairperson said.

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The AU-sponsored exercise involved electoral experts from several African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tunisia among others.

Halima said that having input from experts from other African countries – namely the DRC – explain how a boundary delimitation creates unique problems for countries emerging from civil-war with poor infrastructure.

“The most important thing that opened our eyes was DRC, how they did it (even though) the territory was complicated, the country divided, infrastructure destroyed and how there was interference from foreign countries and their military. When we studied all that we said if DRC did this, Somalia’s will be very easy to do. And we are confident we can do it,” Halima added.

Ali Mohamed Mohamud, a senior policy adviser, Ministry of Interior of the Federal Government of Somalia, said the team had gained plenty of insights in the way democratic and independent elections are held in both normal and post-conflict settings in Africa.

“We gained a lot of inside information especially when we compared different countries, how they did it, regular, normal countries that didn’t have any problems and also post-conflict countries. So that helped us to prepare ourselves for the coming 2020 elections,” Mohamud said.

The training exercise is among the many the NIEC plans to conduct ahead of the heavily anticipated 2020 general elections where millions of Somali’s – many for the first time – cast their ballot in a Presidential Election. Somalia plans to swap the clan elder electoral system for universal suffrage and hold free elections for the first time since March 26, 1969.