President Deni’s Plan for Puntland’s Future: Striking the Right Balance between Progress and Challenges.
President Deni’s Vision for the Future of Puntland: Striking a Balance between Progress and Challenges.
In a speech delivered in Qardho city on August 12, 2013, President Said Abdulahi Deni highlighted the advancements made by the city council since its election last year. President Deni also took the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the district council elections on May 25, 2023, as well as the upcoming presidential election on January 8, 2024.
President Deni expressed his readiness to bring the government closer to the people, emphasizing that if reelected, he would continue to serve them. He encouraged the Mideye Party not to fear the upcoming election and reminded them that they had the potential to win, just as they had in the Qardho council election the previous year.
President Deni resonated with the people by addressing their aspirations. He acknowledged that it was time for Puntland to transition from the traditional system, in which elders chose representatives, to a new system where every Puntlander would have the right to vote for their preferred candidate. He emphasized that this would ensure greater accountability from the elected officials.
President Deni also acknowledged the ongoing challenges in implementing this new system, particularly due to disagreements between parties. He stressed that in order to transition successfully, two crucial elements needed to be in place: a roadmap that outlined the positive outcomes of the new system, as described in his speech, and a consensus among all stakeholders.
At the beginning of the democratization process, President Deni made it clear that the new stakeholders of the new system were the nine associations competing to become the final three parties, in accordance with the Puntland constitution. He maintained that traditional elders and individual politicians who were not part of an association had no role in the new system.
To ensure the acceptance of the “one person, one vote” principle by all associations, President Deni was expected to engage in negotiations and find a compromise. However, he failed to involve two associations, Horseed and Youth, and accused them of lacking seriousness about democratization. This was a critical mistake as it hindered the smooth progress of the transition.
Another mistake President Deni made was proceeding with elections in 30 districts, despite the impossibility of holding them in three districts, including the capital city. Postponing the elections until a solution was found would have demonstrated his commitment to resolving issues and instilled confidence in his ability to address challenges.
President Deni’s decision to continue the elections, disregarding the obstacles, was met with criticism. The election turnout was low, with only 177,000 people voting. The three winning parties in this election were the same associations that competed in the initial trial districts. In an attempt to avoid repeating past failures, President Deni proposed changing the constitution to increase the number of associations eligible to become parties from three to nine. This move garnered further controversy and raised questions about his leadership.
The Mideye Party, the second largest party in the May 25, 2023, election, has condemned President Deni’s remarks and called for him to engage in negotiations. This indicates a lack of support even from the stakeholders he claims to represent. If three parties oppose his roadmap and he continues with a one-sided process, President Deni’s leadership is likely to lead Puntlanders to a dead end.
The way forward requires the acceptance of a system that is agreeable to all stakeholders. President Deni must abandon his dictatorial approach and prioritize the interests of Puntland. He should engage in negotiations with opposition groups to find a way forward that benefits all. If President Deni is reelected through an agreed process, he will have the opportunity to complete his initiatives. Otherwise, his legacy will be tarnished by his desperate attempts to retain power.
Puntlanders should carefully analyze President Deni’s words and actions, recognizing that Puntland existed before his presidency and will continue after his tenure. It is crucial for all Puntlanders to collaborate and construct a system where elected officials are accountable, ultimately fostering progress in Puntland.