Shukri Ismail discusses the formation and work of Somaliland’s first national election commission. She explains the difficulties the commission faced organizing Somaliland’s first elections, which included a difficult voter registration process, setting the election timetable and dealing with weak and newly formed state institutions and untested election law. Ismail also discusses the difficulties with political party formation, hiring and training election staff and the potential for violence when the commission ultimately determined the presidential election had been won by 80 votes. She also touches on working with international consultants, the electoral commission’s relationship with the media, the role of the clan in Somaliland’s elections, the lessons learned from Somaliland’s first elections and the challenges still ahead.
At the time of this interview Shukri Ismail was the founder and director of Candle Light, a health, education, and environment non-profit based in Somaliland. She was the only female national election commissioner with Somaliland’s first National Election Commission.