Somalia: Puntland's outgoing leader extends hand for dialogue
GAROWE, Somalia - Embattled Puntland leader Said Abdullahi Deni has expressed a desire to hold dialogue with the opposition team, following pressure over upcoming elections which are supposed to take place in January 2024, in line with the constitution of the state.
At Garowe, the capital of Puntland, Deni held a meeting with various political organizations, while insisting on settling contentious issues with the opposition, which accused him of conspiracy to extend his term albeit illegally.
Some of the political parties he met include SINCAD, IFIYE, RUNCAD, MUSTAQBAL, KAAH, and SHAQALAHA, close allies. Notably, several political parties were absent, underscoring some of the deeply rooted divisions in the northern state of Somalia.
According to reports, the team discussed completing universal suffrage polls for the presidency, regional assembly, and remaining local councils across the state. Some councils yet to hold elections include Garowe, Dangoroyo, and Godobjiran.
During a press conference following the meeting, President Said Deni reiterated his administration's readiness to dialogue with the opposition groups to resolve the political impasse surrounding the elections. The opposition maintains it will only support indirect elections.
Deni has been accused of using the local assembly to meddle with the Elections Act, which could see him extend power illegally. This has consequently, sparked protests in several towns including Garowe and Bosaso, where the opposition enjoys huge command.
International partners have warned of the possibility of the state degenerating into chaos despite enjoying 25 years of stability. The opposition says Deni corrupted the voter register in favor of his political party, thus the need for indirect polls in the state.