Somalia: Said Abdullahi Deni re-elected in Puntland after tough contest
GAROWE, Somalia - Said Abdullahi Deni, the leader of the northern federal state of Puntland, was comfortably re-elected after three rounds of voting on Monday, the regional assembly speaker said, noting that the results were "authentic" and "accurate".
During the first round of voting, Deni scored 35 votes out of the 66 regional legislators who are mandated to elect a new president, with his closest challenger Dr. Guled Salah emerging second with 9 votes as former Foreign Affairs minister Abshir Omar Jama finished third with 8.
The trend slightly changed in the second round of voting as Deni scooped 40 votes with Salah's rally increasing to 17 as Abshir scored 8. However, the victory was sealed in the third round of voting which saw Deni clinch the seat after getting affirmation from 45 lawmakers with 21 voting for Salah.
Monday's results mean Deni will continue serving as president of Puntland for the next five years, and this effectively ends political tussles in Somalia’s oldest federal state, which has been the most stable given the structured governance system.
The polls almost encountered delays after politicians disagreed on the mode of elections with Deni preferring universal suffrage. The opposition teams pushed for indirect polls where traditional elders have a bigger say on who becomes a lawmaker.
With Deni dropping his demands for an indirect model, 66 lawmakers were picked recently and took part in Monday's elections. Salah was the immediate former Transitional Puntland Elections Committee chairman (TPEC).
Besides the three, the elections also featured former federal government of Somalia Foreign Affairs ministers Ahmed Awad and economist and media owner Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamad Farole, who scored two votes in the first round of voting.
Farole had supported the exercise despite reluctance from the opposition, arguing that most of the demands by the opposition had been factored in. He anchored his philosophy on the democratization of the region's institutions for the sake of reforms.
Deni will now have the most difficult job of uniting the region after rounds of chaos triggered by plans to extend his term. He is due to address parliament. His victory also comes at the time Somalia is at loggerheads with Ethiopia over a controversial deal with Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia.