Wow! Ilhan Omar is absolutely astounded by Puntland’s groundbreaking local elections!

Friday May 26, 2023

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U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) shared her admiration for Puntland’s groundbreaking local elections, marking a significant stride towards democracy despite numerous challenges.

Omar congratulated the people of Somalia and Puntland for their momentous election, highlighting people’s hope for the future and their dedication to democracy. She urged all those involved in the process to ensure a peaceful and impartial election.

Furthermore, Omar commended Puntland’s President for his vital role in the progress of these elections, stating that these elections would be the significant leap towards cultivating democracy in the country. It is impressive to see how Puntland leads the charge in this regard.

During her visit to Puntland’s capital city of Garowe in December 2022, the congresswoman witnessed the groundbreaking election. Puntland, a northeastern state in Somalia, embraced the one-person-one-vote system, which has not happened in more than half a century. These efforts contrasted with years of war, insurgency, and environmental issues, such as frequent droughts that nearly pushed the nation into a famine.

Despite the challenges, the wider community praised Puntland’s district council elections as a historic event. The global community, including various international partners and aid organizations, hoped for Puntland to provide a model for democratic expansion throughout Somalia.

The transition to democracy in Puntland, however, is not without its difficulties. The United Nation’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, noted numerous obstacles and setbacks, highlighting the inherent challenges in transitioning from a semi-autonomous state to a democratic electoral system.

In addition, critics are concerned about the possibility of manipulation of the democratic process by Puntland’s President, Said Abdullahi Deni. They fear Deni might try to alter Puntland’s constitution to extend his term beyond its end in January. Puntland’s opposition forum publicly denounced any attempt to initiate a constitutional review process at this critical juncture.

Despite all the hurdles, the public showed unprecedented levels of political engagement, with over 387,000 registered voters and 3,775 candidates, of which 28% were female candidates. This reflects a diverse pool of candidates and a bright outlook for the future of democracy in Puntland.

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