Somalia: Fixed to the corner, Deni can't hide anymore
GAROWE, Puntland - For a long time, Puntland was seemingly the epitome of peace and tranquility, from having functional state organs, and a smooth transition of power to posting an upward trajectory in development, but these gains are slowly fading away with political instability now crippling the state.
Last year, although with several flaws, the state held the first universal suffrage elections in history, setting precedence which should have been emulated by the country at the time of need; during the political turmoil which risked tearing apart Somalia and even activating a mutiny in Mogadishu.
But the tremendous milestone in good governance within Puntland is seemingly sour, following the political dispute pitting embattled outgoing president Said Abdullahi Deni and his fierce opponents over the impending presidential elections in the state which was the epitome of stability.
In the mix are four political associations which include Horseed, Mideeye, Dhalinyarada, and Shaqaalaha which are pushing for more political space, free, fair, and inclusive elections as well as the adherence to the constitution of the land. The four formations have come out guns blazing following signs of possible term extension by Deni through the controversial vote.
Deni, although discreetly, has shown all the signs of mutilating local polls besides pushing his desires contrary to the expectations of stakeholders. Whether his desires will be fulfilled or not, the bitter fact now remains that Puntland has lost track under his leadership.
On Wednesday, the four political associations jointly described a recent letter from outgoing President Deni's office as "misleading", and an attempt to pave the way for a one-sided local vote in the Federal State. The state is set to hold several local council polls which the opposition believe has been pre-rigged in Deni's favour.
They said Deni's letter violates the Puntland constitution. "The current term-ending Govt and its political organization KAAH are using public vehicles for the election campaign. "Election does not require individual guarantees, but legal guarantees," the joint statement added.
With the recent turn out of events, Puntland is slowly paving way for serial anarchy which is synonymous with the southern states of Somalia, effectively giving room to Al-Shabaab extortionists. The militants have lately been exploiting the insecurity lapses to raid various strategic areas including Garowe and Bosaso.
Early this year, differences locked Puntland Security Forces [PSF] with Said Abdullahi Deni being the epicenter of the conflict having instigated unprecedented changes. So dire were the differences leading to bloodshed in Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland before elders intervened for fear of Al-Shabaab penetration.
A few weeks ago, credible reports showed that United Arab Emirates [UAE] soldiers were training in Bosaso without the knowledge of the federal government, a further infringement of Somalia's security protocols. Whether Deni is out to prove a point or not, the well-choreographed incidents implicate his administration.
For foreign soldiers to train in a federal state, thorough paperwork is needed with approval from relevant offices. Deni's administration is slowly isolating itself from the rest of Somalia, creating bad precedence which is a total diversion from the ideals the state has been known for since Puntland's formation in 1998.
It is not clear if the state will conduct free and fair local elections next year as Deni refuses to revolve the contentious issues raised by the political associations before the voting. Somalia's international partners are urged to intervene in the escalating electoral crisis in Puntland before the situation gets out of hand.
On Wednesday night, demonstrations erupted in Lasanood resulting in the death of civilians. Locals took to the streets to protest the city's recent run of killings and as a result, three people were killed and many more were injured. The number of targeted killings in the city has increased.
In Mogadishu, Deni skipped ushering in visiting Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and did not sign an agreement with the federal government and other member states which revolved around the federalization of the Judiciary, fight against Al-Shabaab and constitutional powers of FGS and FMS.