Deni's Constitutional Gambit: Puntland's Precarious Political Future


OP-ED- As the clock winds down on Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni's term, with just nine months remaining, a new and troubling development has surfaced in the region's political landscape. Deni is reportedly contemplating an amendment to Article 46 (3) of the Federal State's constitution, a move that could have far-reaching consequences for the future of democracy and stability in Puntland.

The move is termed as a clear violation of the constitution and the law of Puntland.

The proposed amendment would increase the number of authorized official political parties from three to five. On the surface, this expansion might appear innocuous or even beneficial, as it ostensibly allows for greater political diversity. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the purpose of the amendment is to provide a platform for more pro-Deni parties to gain influence.

While the Puntland constitution is designed to be rigid and prevent arbitrary amendments, Deni's proposal seems to skirt these formal procedures outlined in Article 139. This end-run around the established process raises serious questions about the democratic principles that underpin Puntland's political system.

This is not the first time Deni has displayed questionable tactics. In the 2021 elections in Eyl, Ufeyn, and Qardho, allegations of vote-buying and malpractice marred the process, leading to widespread mistrust among political associations and the general public. The specter of these incidents casts a long shadow over Deni's current attempt to amend the constitution, which could further erode trust in Puntland's political institutions.

If Deni proceeds with his amendment plans and disregards calls for an inclusive, free, and fair process, Puntland, the oldest and most stable Somali Federal State, could face political instability. With the high stakes, it is more important than ever for Puntland's citizens and political leaders to be vigilant and demand transparency and integrity in their democratic system.

In times of political uncertainty, it can be tempting to seek shortcuts or bend the rules to maintain power. But it is crucial to remember that the strength of a democracy lies not in the consolidation of power but in the resilience of its institutions and the ability to adapt to change. As Puntland faces this critical juncture, the choices made by its leaders will shape not only the immediate political landscape but also the long-term future of the region.

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