It is Tuesday, August 4, 2015. My colleagues, 22 in all – and I at the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (MoIFA) in Mogadishu – Somalia, have been waiting for this day with excitement and anticipation. This is the day we will be taken through a BRIDGE training course. None of us had ever attended any such training in Somalia or anywhere else. This would be the first of its kind. The suspense we have gone through from the day we were invited to this training has been intense and aroused curiosity in all of us.
We had not had such heavy rainfall for a while, ironically we woke up to a downpour on this long-awaited day. This indeed was a good sign – seeds of knowledge that we were about to receive would be nourished – a new hope for Somalis as we prepare to unleash latent potential in building our nation for a brighter future. We walked into the Conference Centre with open hearts and minds. Our facilitators, Joanne Cheah, Tomsie Dlamini and resource persons, Gerald Mitchell and Filip Warnants, did not fail us as we moved through the three-day course – which felt like only a day.
The course covered thematic areas on guiding principles of democracy, international standards and instruments, introduction to electoral systems and public outreach in the most practical of ways which resonated with our context in Somalia. The course assisted us in understanding the critical role we play in supporting the newly established National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) of Somalia by drafting legislation essential for the institution to conduct democratic elections ensuring inclusive participation for all citizens as required by law. This modular course was delivered at an opportune time considering the developments taking place in the Horn of Africa. The team opined that sessions on electoral systems and public outreach will need to be given special attention as we go through the transition and democratisation of our beautiful east African coastal country. The emphasis on public outreach is essential because MoIFA is tasked with public consultations and engagements demanding tactful skills in fusing public opinions into legislation while striking a balance of the divergent opinions from various sectors of our communities. Indeed, we trust that the United Nations in Somalia and the UNDP will assist us in building on this foundation and bridge the gap as we work through repositioning Somalia on a democratic path.
MoIFA embraces these initiatives of developing a cadre of professionals, to propel our country to great heights. We are committed to placing our country on the global map of emerging democracies with profound zest. May we have more BRIDGE courses and watch us bear desired fruits of democracy. May we walk this path together for a bright Somalia!
BRIDGE Modular Course: Introduction to Electoral Administration