Somalia: Puntland leader plotting to "loot" parliamentary seats - opposition
GAROWE, Somalia - Opposition Presidential candidates in Puntland have outrightly rejected the elections dispute and vetting committee set by outgoing leader Said Abdullahi Deni, insisting that the move is strategically designed to "loot" all the 66 parliamentary seats available for 2024 polls.
After months of impasse and blame games, there seem to be signs of possible elections in the next few weeks, with Deni conceding to pressure from the opposition over holding indirect polls. He was intending to have universal suffrage polls.
But even after the Constitutional Court blocked a move by the regional assembly to extend its term illegally, Deni went ahead and picked an 8-member committee, which would oversee parliamentary elections in the traditional model setup.
It is this committee that the opposition believes Deni specifically created to "deliberately" hijack the election process since most members are said to be his relatives and some from his Kaah party, an association he is trying to grow in Puntland.
The move, they said in a statement, was an outright attempt to loot the 66 parliamentary seats as he did during the Federal parliamentary polls in 2022. Once clan elders elect regional lawmakers, they proceed to elect a regional president who serves for 5 years.
Some of the members of the committee include Isaac Ahmed Hassan, who is the chairperson, Saeed Hirsi Bulhan, Abdi Abdullahi Hashi [Council], Abdirashid Saleban Geelle and Farah Abdi Dhalac, Mohamud Mohamed Ahmed. Others are Ahmed Abdi Ali and Secretary Yusuf Saudi Abdi.
Interestingly, Deni's Deputy Ahmed Karaash was omitted from the committee, raising speculations and concerns about the team's legitimacy. The Vice President has traditionally served on the committee and his omission could trigger more divisions.
On Wednesday, the Puntland parliament rejected the appointment of the eight-member dispute resolution and vetting committee for the upcoming indirect parliamentary election by outgoing president Said Abdullahi Deni as "unconstitutional" and did not go through the legal electoral process.
The process of indirect elections in Puntland has always been going through an Appendix issued by the Parliament which allows the government to appoint committees, which Deni has now ignored, per the statement.
Although the region was set for universal suffrage elections, the majority of stakeholders accused Deni of manipulating the voter register about controversial local council elections that were held a few months ago. Deni's Kaah party controlled most municipalities, raising questions about the integrity of the exercise.