Somalia: Puntland's political associations boycott Local Elections results
GAROWE, Puntland - The Transitional Puntland's Electoral Commission [TPEC] is facing a fresh hurdle following the decision by a number of political parties to boycott recently released results for elections that were carried out in three districts.
The commission held elections in Qardho, Eyl, and Ufeyn districts on October 25th, the first-ever early local government polls in Puntland since its foundation in 1998, and also marks the first democratic vote in Somalia since 1969.
Somalia has traditionally held a 4.5 model of elections where elders play a key role.
While announcing the decision to form the coalition [Puntland Political Forum [PPF], the four parties namely Horseed, Run and Caddaalad, Mustaqbal, and Ifiye, said the recent municipal election was marred by vote-buying and irregularities.
In a statement, PPF said incidents of voter bribery and other elections malpractices were recorded in various stations, adding that the outcome was not as free and fair as initially envisaged.
"The Forum welcomes, in principle, the Puntland Local Government Elections, which were conducted peacefully in Qardho, Eyl, and Ufeyn districts, whereby the people of Puntland strongly expressed their aspirations for One-Person, One-Vote elections," read the statement.
"The Forum declares that, during the Early Elections which occurred in three districts, there were reports of widespread violations against Puntland electoral laws and regulations, including bribery and vote-buying; using government property and power, such as government vehicles, public funds, security forces, and civil servants; collecting voter cards in order to corrupt the voting process."
Also, the alliance said the commission registered non-resident voters by transporting them from other districts to the districts where the Local Government Elections were occurring; permitting underage children to register and vote in the Local Government Elections; threats and intimidation against voters who could not protect themselves.
Further, the parties were distributing the voter cards in bunches and misusing the voter cards; assistance for voters with special needs was misused by some Political Associations to identify the voters’ choices and to award those who voted for them with financial rewards.
"The Forum underscores that the corrupt practices that occurred during the Puntland Local Government Elections was benefiting some Political Associations, who were taking advantage of the people’s financial needs situation, widespread unemployment and drought conditions that are being experienced by the Puntland people at this time," the statement read.
"The Forum emphasizes, given the above-cited violations that occurred, the outcome of the Local Government Elections is not one that defines Puntland state’s democratization objectives, for which the people had high expectations that it may continue," it said. "The Forum clarifies that the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission [TPEC] disregarded the electoral laws and regulations, such as to be informed about government. "
The statement could be a major test for TPEC which was initially lauded by various stakeholders for conducting a free and fair election in the northern state of Somalia. TPEC has unilaterally announced the final results on Saturday without consulting with the political associations.
In addition, the leaders of the winning parties all hail from the same Qardho district, and they run for Puntland President in the 8th Jan 2019 presidential election. Deni won the race for the top position. The two defeated candidates were getting support from Villa Somalia at the time.
Puntland's power system has been based on clan power-sharing for 21 years, and electoral fraud could disrupt its political stability.
The trio - Kaah, is the ruling party while Mideeye and Sinnaan & Cadaalad are said to have received funding from outside Puntland at a time Somalia is in an electioneering period.