Amid deepening row, Puntland opposition publishes election timelines

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GAROWE (GO) - A political crisis is looming in Puntland, Somalia's oldest federal state, following a standoff between the current administration and the opposition, mainly centered around upcoming elections, which are due in January 2024, according to constitutional timelines.

Said Abdullahi Deni, the state's regional president, is accused of among others, mutilating electoral laws with an intention of extending his term, contrary to electoral dictates. The strategy has provoked the opposition, which is fighting to have timely elections.

Consequently, the irked opposition has gone ahead and published elections timeline, effectively rejecting the recent proposal by the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission [TPEC], which had technically postponed elections by a month.

According to the published schedule, the process will start with the formation of the elections dispute committee on 1st December and on December 31, a list of new MPs will be announced and parliament leadership to be picked on Jan 4th 2024.

In addition, Puntland's upcoming presidential election will take place January 8th, 2024, which is the constitutional time. TPEC, which has been accused of "imposing" direct polls without consensus, had scheduled the elections a month later.

Last month, PEC - Puntland electoral commission announced elections postponed to February next year. This, analysts believe, was a "tactical" move by Deni to extend his term, further creating electoral crisis in the northern state of Somalia.

In June this year, Puntland capital, Garowe, experienced deadly clashes after Parliament endorsed constitutional changes that paves the way for Deni's extension. The international community has been calling for consensus, which the opposition accuse Deni of being "in disagreement"

Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamad, one of the leading opposition figures in Puntland, said the decision to publish dates for elections had a huge backing by traditional elders, who are in support of "parliamentary elections" where the regional leader is picked indirectly by lawmakers.

"In today’s pivotal meeting, the opposition union in Puntland, adhering to the wisdom of our traditional elders, has decided to uphold our long-established electoral system for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections," he said.

"This step is crucial for maintaining the stability of our state amidst the current government’s failure to implement IP1V elections. After the meeting, I shared further insights in an interview with a journalist."

Deni is accused of leading the state with "dictatorship" with the opposition citing recent universal suffrage polls in certain states where his KAAH party was accused of rigging, a claim he disputes. Puntland has also had troubles with the federal government which the opposition insisted are "artificially" manufactured by Deni.

GAROWE ONLINE

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