Somalia: Astonishing spike in tension as rival force unexpectedly deploys in Puntland capital
Unbelievable chaos engulfs Garowe, the capital of Puntland state, as rival forces strategically position themselves. Witnesses, in a state of utter bemusement, report a heavy presence of troops allied to opposition formations on the streets. This mysterious display of might occurs just hours before the parliament’s highly contentious debate on constitutional changes, potentially including the issue of extending the term of the outgoing leader, Said Abdullahi Deni. Deni, notorious for his determination to cling to power, plans to defy his allotted five-year mandate, scheduled to conclude in January 2024. The true motivation behind the deployment of government forces, including the Puntland Maritime Police Force trained and armed by the United Arab Emirates, remains shrouded in obscurity. Adding to the bewildering spectacle, presidential guards converge on the scene. The opposition decries the constitutional amendments as a “plot” to unlawfully perpetuate Deni’s reign, though he insists everything is above board. Amidst mounting pressure, including accusations of rigging the local elections in favor of his KAAH party, Deni stands firm, ridiculously claiming the elections were “free and fair.” However, disapproval extends beyond local politicians, as top federal government officials express their discontent, accusing Deni of suffocating democracy in Puntland. Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre urgently calls for a dialogue to resolve the deadlock. Unfortunately, clashes between rival factions, with soldiers demanding overdue payments, have become a distressingly familiar sight in Garowe. In fact, just last month, roads leading to the State House were forcefully sealed off by disgruntled troops protesting salary delays. Puntland, once a region known for its stability, has now become a hotbed of internal strife, exacerbated by the resurgence of Al-Shabaab and IS-Somalia. Adding fuel to the fire, the ongoing dispute with Northern Somalia over control of the Sool region further erodes the state’s fragile equilibrium.