Somalia: Former Puntland leaders warn Deni’s plot to illegally extend his term

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GAROWE, Puntland Ex-Puntland presidents Abdirahman Mohamad Farole and Abdiweli Gaas spoke about the Federal State’s Democratization Process, Challenges, and Ways Forward as leaders in deadlock over the upcoming polls.

Speaking with BBC Somali Service’s Friday debate, both former leaders shed light on the long-standing Puntland democratization process and important lessons learned from the exercise since it was started.

Farole said there are still challenges dragging on since his tenure in office [2009-2014], which need to be resolved first to conduct transparent, inclusive, and democratic local elections.

“If a direct election is to be held, its pillars must be built; first, everything starts with the people, and they must be prepared for the vote and remove the obstacles that stand in the way,” said Senator Farole.

Farole said a lesson was learned from the first election held in the three districts last year, where widespread corruption and violation of people's rights after vote-buying took place in some areas.

The voter fraud in Oct 25 pilot municipal elections in Qardho, Eyl, and Ufayn led to the boycott of the results by most of the political associations. It dashed the people's hope to move from the clan-based electoral system to a robust multi-party system.

Continuing, Farole, one of the founding fathers of Puntland, has warned of the negative consequences if the democratic process is implemented in a non-consensual manner, including unilateral decisions.

He pointed out that Bossaso and Galkayo are without administration. President Deni replaced Garowe’s mayor with his close assistant, who served in the presidency to score his political goal.

The Minister of Information of Puntland, Mahmoud Aideed, who attended the debate, said that the next presidential election in 2024 will be decided by the parties that emerged winners of the local elections.

The minister hinted at secret plans to delay the election to pave the way for Deni’s extension, which the stakeholders are against and vowed to reject as it is contrary to the constitution.

“The minister’s statement reveals where the Puntland election is heading, and that is where we warned, no one will accept the vote to take place in a way that serves the interest of 3 parties,” said Farole.

For his part, Abdiweli Gaas, who served from 2014-2019, stated that Puntland’s current president Said Deni wanted to focus on holding a timely, free and fair election at the end of his tenure on 8th January 2024.

“Puntland doesn’t want a controversial election that fuels the fire and sowing divisions. We know that there is no constitutional court, a functioning supreme court, and an independent electoral body that is the reason caused the resignation of TPEC chair Guled Salah and his deputy,” said Gaas.

He added: We are not against one person, one vote election in Puntland, but we see that the important thing is to focus on a timely presidential vote given the current circumstances and the short period left.

The remarks of the former leaders come amid an attempt by incumbent Said Deni to hold a controversial municipal election which the majority of political parties see as a pretext to stay in power beyond his five-year mandate.

The leaders called to give a chance to the next government to finalize the remaining multi-party system since Puntland is currently facing numerous challenges that need time and energy to overcome.

GAROWE ONLINE

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