Media statement on the South African Observer Mission to Somaliland Parliamentary elections

HARGEISA--The South African Observer Mission expressed its gratitude to Somaliland National Electoral Commission for inviting it to observe this historic 2005 Somaliland Parliamentary Elections due to be held on 29 Sept. 2005.
In a statement at arrival, the Mission said that its mandate was to observe the build up to the election, voting and the count on election-day.

"In this respect, this is a pivotal opportunity for South African institutions to support the people of Somaliland in their efforts to strengthen Somalilandís emerging democracy, stability and quest for free and fair elections according to international standards and the electoral laws of Somaliland.," the statement said.

It added that South Africa was one of the strongest proponents of Africaís official development programme, NEPAD, (New Partnership for Africaís Development) and was one of the most reliable supporters of good governance on the African continent.

"South Africa's participation in observing the forthcoming elections in Somaliland will not be the first such endeavour. A South African team observed the Somaliland 2001 Constitutional referendum and Somalilandís first 2003 democratic Presidential Elections. In addition, a team in 2003 worked in Somaliland in the training of party political agents," it said.

The Mission noted that a South African election expert had been in Somaliland since July 2005 and had worked with the Somaliland National Electoral Commission.

The South African election team has now been joined by 12 observers from various high-profile sectors led by EISA, formerly known as the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa; members include policy research institutions, such as the Institute of Security Studies, Institute for Global Dialogue and Swiss Peace; diplomats; media correspondents, as well as members of the Gauteng government and the South African ruling partyís African National Congress (see attached list of observers).

"The elections in Somaliland are regarded as unique in that it is hoped to be an application of democracy in a non-sovereign State. The South African Observer Mission would like to wish the people of Somaliland well in the up-coming elections..

"We are pleased to note and support the recent visit of the African Unionís fact-finding delegation, led by the African Unionís Deputy Chairperson, His Excellency Mr. Patrick Mazimhaka and his subsequent report back on Somaliland, submitted to the African Unionís Executive Council meeting in July 2005.

"We will issue an interim statement on Friday, 30 September and a hold a press conference on our findings at 5pm at the Maan-soor Hotel after discussions with the National Electoral Commission."

For further information and interviews contact :
Miss Zahira Seedat, Co-ordinator of the South African Observer Mission.
Tel: mobile 407 951 Telesom &
Maan-soor Hotel, Tel : 828 3628/39/40
Issued by: South African Observer Mission, Hargeisa, 25 September 2005.