Bosaso, June 30 , 2023
Following the May 25th 2023 elections in which voters from 30-Puntland districts cast their ballots in the region’s first direct election in 54 years. This momentous achievement heralds the adoption of a “one person, one vote” system, allowing people to choose their representatives in the local government, departing from the conventional clan elder selection procedure.
To review the media’s performance during this history making elections, MAP in partnership with the International Media Support (IMS) held on June 29, 2023 a Post-election Media Round Table in Bosaso at the Jubba Hotel.
Several societal groups, including women’s and youth organizations, recently elected Bosaso local government councilors, unsuccessful candidates in the most recent elections, media members, and the director of the Bosaso local government’s department of community affairs, among others, attended the forum.
Naima Musse Elmi, speaking at the openning session of the event highlighted that forum aims to review the media coverage at different levels including candidate’s gender coverage, media awareness and central issues including the civil society role played during the recent Puntland local government elections that was observed in 30 districts of the state.
”I applaud the Puntland Mainstream media for the outstanding performance during the municipality elections. Today we gather here to look back and discuss what worked well and what needs to be improved in the future – with focus on the media role and or coverage” Said Ms. Naima Musse, MAP’s secretary general.
During the day-long discussions, the forum highlighted keys issues such as gaps in the media awareness/voter education, lack of political will from political parties towards promoting women candidates, the extent to which Bosaso CSOs participated in the electoral process, level of respect to freedom of expression and overall the environment in which the election occurred.
Despite TPEC efforts during the voter registration process in Bosaso, participants believed that the commission should have done better in reaching a wider audience to boost the number of voter registrants.
Participants also highlighted that there is a need to concert efforts aimed at promoting women candidates both in terms of media coverage but also most importantly that political parties should enact policies and practices within their recruitment processes in favor of female candidates.
The forum also debated freedom of expression both in the context of reporter’s access to information, as well as restrictions on the candidates and public’s right to express their views and opinions during the elections.
On both occasions, the participants at the roundtable confirmed that there were no incidents as such that restricted their rights, and that reporters were allowed to perform their role with no interference.
At the end of the forum, participants at the forum agreed that the Puntland’s direct election experience has the potential to enlighten and inspire the spread of democracy across Somalia at all levels, despite the fact that Somalia has been struggling for many years to stand on its own legs after more than three decades of conflict and lawlessness, lethal terrorism, piracy, and natural disasters, including a punishing drought that has driven the poor, aid-dependent nation to the brink of famine.