As part of the consultation meetings which the NIEC is conducting throughout Somalia, the commission met with the traditional and religious leaders, politicians and women and youth representatives of Garabahaarey town. The meeting was opened by Mr. Ismail who invited Sheikh Mohamed Abdirashid to give a brief religious reminder. In his speech, the Sheikh talked about how Islam encourages and values consultation within the community. After the religious reminder the meeting was officially opened by Mr. Osman, the deputy governor of Gedo region. He stated that the consultation exercise being conducted by the commission is good for all the Somali people. On his side the mayor Garbahaarey Mr. Iman Adow Karshe appreciated the effort of the commission to listen to the Somali people’s views. He stated that one man one vote taking place in Somalia is a great victory for whoever witnesses it. The delegation from the electoral commission also made some statements. To begin with, the deputy chairperson of the commission Mr. SaydAli Sheikh Mohamed clarified to the people the mission of the delegation and the commission at large. He said that the consultation exercise came out from the meeting of the national leadership forum on 5th November 2017. He stated that the delegation will share the thoughts and suggestion of the people of Garbahaarey with the country’s top leadership. Lastly, before he welcomed Commissioner Hussein Abdi to the stage, the deputy chairperson shared the schedule of the program with the participants. Commissioner Hussein introduced the commission by articulating its obligations. He also highlighted some key concepts regarding the elections of Somalia including the history of Somalia’s elections, benefits of elections as well the eight pillars which are necessary of the 2020 election process. After the leaders and the representatives of the population of Garbahaarey listened to the remarks of the deputy chairperson of the commission and commissioner Hussein attentively, they were given a chance to ask questions and give the commission their suggestions regarding the electoral process. A lot of people with varying capacities spoke. Mr. Hassan Ahmad who was one of the traditional elders present argued that the country should be liberated from Alshabab before elections are being discussed. He stated that the current situation does not allow for free and fair elections and he also maintained that disarmament is crucial for 2020 elections to take place. Mr. Ahmad Nuurre who was also a community leader asked about how multiple voting can be avoided and also asked about the number of political parties that can be registered. Commissioner Said Hashi responded to those questions and satisfied the audience with his clarity. On his side the deputy chairperson admitted that there are security concerns but he also said that a huge progress is being made to ensure that elections can be conducted in three years’ time. Abdirazaq Hussein who identified himself as a politician asked about if there is a document that is detailing all the activities of the commission. In answering this, commissioner Hussein showed the audience the strategic plan of the commission and he said that several copies will be left behind for the population to read. Sadaq Sheikh Dahir, a religious leader, asked about the basis of the electoral law and commissioner Said told him that there is no law in Somalia which is not in line with the Islamic principles and values. Hodan Abdi Diriye who was speaking on behalf of the women also spoke about the political parties. She warned that the political parties to be registered should not reflect tribalism that can divide the Somali people further. Hukun Abdullahi who is the speaker of the Gedo women’s association presented her feelings and aspirations for the future of Somalia with ‘buraanbur’. In her piece of literature she encouraged all the Somali people to work towards making 2020 elections a success.
In addition to the women, traditional and religious leaders, the youth turned up for the consultation meeting in great numbers. The youth seemed to be well aware of the electoral process as reflected in their suggestions and questions. AbdiJabbar Mohamed, one of the youth in attendance asked about the constituencies as well as who in the event of electoral malpractices will hold NIEC accountable. However, his questions were greatly appreciated by the deputy chairperson of the commission, Mr. SaydAli Sheikh Mohamed who answered them in detail. Before the meeting was closed, the participants were divided into groups and they were given some questions to discuss. During the discussions, the participants were being assisted by the NIEC staff present. After discussion they presented their answers to the discussion questions Lastly, in their closing remarks, the deputy chairperson of the NIEC and Commissioners Hussein Abdi and Said Hashi all appreciated how the people of Garbahaarey received the delegation, the patriotism they displayed and their enthusiasm towards the future of Somalia.