Washington, D.C.—The International Republican Institute (IRI) announced today that it will resume programming in Somalia after a two-year hiatus. The Institute will re-commence its work helping political parties to prepare for elections as a sub-grantee of Bringing Unity, Integrity and Legitimacy to Democracy (BUILD) program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Creative Associates International.

“We are excited to join forces with Creative Associates to support Somalia’s democratic development,” said John Tomaszewski, IRI Regional Director, Africa. “Our significant experience and expertise in relation to Somalia leaves us well-placed to help political parties build up their capacity to compete in democratic elections.”

Somalia has faced systemic challenges to citizen engagement in inclusive, democratic political processes. The establishment of credible democratic elections and systems has been obstructed by decades of civil war, terrorism, as well as elite and clan-based governance systems, a weak central government and the absence of civic participation.

IRI’s four-year program will focus on building the capacity of political parties and preparing parties to compete in the Somaliland elections in 2017 and 2020 and subnational elections as the political situation evolves. Through political skills training programs, IRI will enable party leaders, activists and elected officials from all political parties to address the capacity gaps that political actors face in Somalia. IRI will also work with Somali political parties to support issue-based platform development that addresses the true needs of Somalis regardless of clan or social identity, and strengthen the ability of parties to identify citizen interests and incorporate the voices of marginalized groups into party platforms.

The five-year BUILD project will provide critical assistance to help build electoral systems, strengthen civil society and encourage civic participation in Somalia, with a particular focus on women, youth and other marginalized groups. This work is made possible with the support of USAID and implemented by Creative Associates International, with IRI working in partnership with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa and Forcier Consulting.

Background: IRI in Somalia

From 2001 to 2014, IRI worked with parliamentarians, political parties, civil society and other key stakeholders to support Somaliland’s path to democratization.  Informed by more than 30 years of experience strengthening democratic practices around the world, IRI successfully fostered democratic principles in an environment characterized by an intricate and deeply rooted clan system.

IRI helped members of parliament and their staff to establish issue-based caucuses that improved their democratic governance practices and constituent outreach.  These parliamentary caucuses worked with civil society to draft and champion legislation that reflected the views of citizens and laid the foundation for increased citizen involvement in the policy-making process. With support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), IRI also worked with newly elected district councilors to help them identify citizens’ priorities to enable local government to engage constituents effectively in decision-making.

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