GAROWE, Somalia – The electoral conflict in Puntland is escalating, with conflicting statements from key players. With just over two months left before President Said Abdullahi Deni’s term expires, there are concerns that he may unlawfully extend his tenure by two years, which goes against the constitution. Changes to regional laws by lawmakers have sparked political reactions from various parties.
Opposition politicians recently held a joint conference in Garowe, where they strongly warned President Deni against extending his term illegally. They called for timely elections and stated that if the administration fails to hold them, the opposition will take action to ensure they happen. However, the opposition and Deni’s government strongly disagree on the election model, with Deni advocating for direct elections and the opposition favoring the traditional approach, which involves the involvement of elders in the election process.
The opposition leaders emphasized the effectiveness of the clan model given the circumstances and raised concerns about transparency in the voter registration exercise, citing instances of tampering and registration of underage children. They also criticized the District Council elections, alleging that they were marred by corruption and favored the ruling KAAH party, which increases the possibility of election rigging.
President Deni, on the other hand, reiterated his support for direct polls, stating that it has worked in the past. The opposition had questioned the credibility of the local council polls and called for an audit, but Deni has remained silent on the matter since then.
“As the president of the state, I announce that the state is committed to a one-person, one-vote election system, which will proceed according to the law and on schedule. I will adhere to the time limits stipulated by the rules and the law,” President Deni declared.
Deni accused the opposition of undermining democracy in Puntland and stated that they have no choice but to participate in the local elections. The opposition has yet to respond to Deni’s remarks, but they maintain that he intends to manipulate the outcome through direct polls.