Massive Chaos Unfolds as Fighting Erupts Near Puntland Capital in Somalia During Contentious Election Dispute
Within the outskirts of Garowe, the capital of the Federal state, witnesses have reported that fighting has broken out between Puntland security forces on Tuesday morning. The altercation occurred only 9 days before municipality elections are scheduled to take place in the region’s various councils amidst the storm of opposition from various political formations. Sources have indicated that the dispute was caused by disputed election boxes which were being accompanied to various destinations by the UAE-funded Puntland Maritime Police Force, who are loyal to the current regional leader Said Abdullahi Deni. Deni has attracted scrutiny over plans to lengthen his time in office. The United Arab Emirates has been investigated in recent months for purported support of the current administration, including military training and equipping of local forces, leading to allegations that UAE soldiers are training troops in Bosaso, the commercial capital, without consent from the federal government. Casualties on both sides occurred as a result of Tuesday’s fighting, but it is uncertain how many deaths or injuries have arisen. The situation remains tense, with no party pulling back from the conflict. After the commotion, ballot boxes were reported to have been returned to Garowe. Nonetheless, President Said Abdullahi Deni’s administration has proposed constitutional amendments with only a few months left in his term, a decision that the federal government and local political figures have opposed. The turmoil coincides with the ongoing Puntland Political Consultative Forum, which is made up of various opposition political formations and aims to highlight the current political tensions surrounding the electoral process and the illegal ratification of the constitution, as outlined by security expert Mohamed Farole. In a tweet, Farole indicated that the forum hopes to rectify these issues and maintain the sanctity of the constitution united with notable political figures and regional professionals from the northern state of Somalia. On the second day of the consultations, the team discussed the political climate as the government’s term approaches its end and looks forward to shaping the future positively, Farole added. Although Puntland is one of the most stable states in Somalia, the recent political manoeuvres by the current administration could result in turmoil and an increased possibility of Al-Shabaab militants infiltrating the region, who are still squeezed into central areas. Deni’s time in office is anticipated to finish within the next several months.