Somalia: Puntland stakeholders issue tough conditions ahead of local elections

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GAROWE, Puntland - The Political associations in Puntland have come out guns blazing against President Said Abdullahi Deni, whose plan to extend his term has faced backlash, in what could potentially ignite serious differences in the northeastern Federal state of Somalia which is currently undergoing electoral stalemate.

Deni, whose tenure expires early next year, has been on a clandestine mission to extend his mandate through what the leadership has termed as "interference" with local council arrangements. The president is said to have unilaterally appointed his close associates to lead the towns of Garowe, Bosaso, and Galkayo.

But in dissent, a number of political parties have retreated and crafted the way forward, issuing tough conditions which would probably frustrate the regional leader's secret plans to extend his term. The associations held a three-day retreat to discuss the way forward under the prevailing circumstances.

Some of the parties which are now on the neck of Deni include Dhalinyarada [Youth], Horseed, Ifiye, Mideeye, Mustaqbal, Runcad, and Sincad. The meeting deliberated on the upcoming local elections and challenges with possible solutions. This comes a year after polls were held in Eyl, Ufeyn, and Qardho.

For the formations to participate in future elections, they have laid down a number of conditions that they want the regional government to implement before the state goes to polls. For this to happen, they said, the state ought to nominate the remaining members and establish the Puntland Constitutional Court besides changing the closed list system for Local Council elections and making it an open list.

Authorities in Puntland, the associations noted, support reducing the number of Local Council members in the districts, giving political parties the opportunity to prepare for the voter registration process apart from granting all councils an equal opportunity to register voters.

Deni, they said, should guarantee them a political agreement before voter registration in electoral units and those district boundaries that were introduced should be in accordance with Puntland Constitution and Regions and Districts Law [Article 21, Clause 2].

The system limits Puntland to three official political parties for a period of 10 years, which averred, must be removed and replaced. The formations also want the party that gets the majority of councilors in a constituency or an alliance between political associations to get the majority to be established by the elected Local Council administration without interference.

Further, they proposed that any member appearing in the name of a political association under the by-laws of that association will "lose" their parliamentary immunity, and the association will replace their position.

In addition, they suggested that workers who are being recruited for the election should go through a transparent process with the participation of the political associations.

Besides, they want political associations to receive a share of government income and donor support as the democratic process is at the early stages and to establish an independent committee to prevent electoral fraud.

Deni has struggled to stamp his authority in the state due to strained relationships with other leaders who accuse him of dictatorship and intolerance. Deni was elected in 2019 but has since lost his allies, who have mooted a serious rebellion in and outside government for several months.

GAROWE ONLINE

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