Somalia: There must be consensus before Puntland election, UN envoy says


GAROWE, Somalia - The United Nations [UN] insists there must be consensus before Puntland elections are held, insisting that the northern state must adhere to credibility by bringing together all stakeholders, to seek a lasting solution over the menace.

Catriona Laing, the UN Special Representative for Secretary-General in Somalia, said her trip to Puntland was to meet several senior officials including President Said Abdullahi Deni, where issues pertaining to controversial elections were deliberated.

I'm delighted to be visiting Puntland. This is my second visit, following assuming office as the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

While acknowledging the stability of the northern state of Somalia, Catriona Laing said there is a need for all parties to reach a consensus, adding that there is a need for more stakeholders to be engaged as the region goes for regional presidential elections.

"So firstly, on Puntland's elections, I would like to commend Puntland for being an island of stability, for leading the way on democracy through the successful district-level elections in May. But, I am conscious that there are some tensions, some different views amongst different stakeholders on the electoral model in Puntland and on the timetable," she said.

"So what we've discussed is that – whilst the goal is very clear, a democratic process – I commend the President for reaching out to different groups, and encourage him to reach out not just to opposition leaders, elders, and clan leaders, but also people who have a stake – the youth, the women and scholars and so on – to include them to ensure that when the elections take place that there's consensus and of course peaceful elections."

The opposition has been accusing Said Abdullahi Deni of failing to respect the constitution, with claims that he might extend his term and also rent the air. Puntland has also been at loggerheads with the federal government, boycotting all the National Consultative Council meetings in the process.

"Secondly, on the relationship with the Federal Government and the rest of Somalia, it's been difficult because Puntland has not been able to participate in the National Consultative Council [NCC[ process for some time," the representative said.

"I was encouraged to hear the President [Said Abdullahi Deni] is continuing to be willing to engage with the President [Hassan Sheikh Mohamud] and eventually more widely thinking about the kind of issues that need to be on the table to ensure Puntland's views are represented."

"So, just encouraging Puntland to play its part in encouraging both sides to resolve these differences peacefully to make sure there's no further escalation of violence, that there are confidence-building measures around the exchange of prisoners and so for Puntland to play its part through the influence it has, through the clan relationships to ensure a peaceful way forward," she added.

The government of Puntland is insisting on direct polls while the opposition says the indirect polls will be appropriate for the region to move forward. Deni's term will expire in January 2024 but there are concerns that he could stay a little longer by mutilating constitutional dictates.


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