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In Puntland, Somaliland's vote in disputed regions erode public confidence

By Staff Reporter , Garowe Online

GAROWE, Puntland - On November 7, Puntland's parliament speaker Ahmed Ali Hashi has rebuked Puntland's law enforcement agencies of failing to prevent security negligence in border areas in view of Somaliland's steadfastness in including disputed border regions into its electoral districts.

The quick condemnation with no prior plan, background, and recommendations seem to be the interest of a group from both executive and legislative bodies who wanted to pave the way for creating a tension in the disputed regions.

Meanwhile, the swift response is seen as a veiled attempt by members of the two houses including Mr. Hashir who originally hails from the disputed regions to create tensions along border areas between Somaliland and Puntland.

Despite their push for an action, perhaps a military confrontation against Somaliland by Puntland which could put the two on a collision course, Mr. Hashi and his deputy Haji Mohamed Yasin have been in the office for a long time without visiting their constituencies of whom they represent in the legislative body.

In addition, both security and interior ministers, are from the disputed border region, decisive and crucial voting constituencies for Somaliland's presidential candidates.

However, questions remain on why fuelling conflicts with Somaliland would matter at the moment than two years ago that its officials including the outgoing Somaliland's president Ahmed Silanyo paid visit to Taleh, an ancient town, 120km north of Garowe, Puntland's capital, followed by a visit by Muse Bihi, the ruling party's candidate who met with residents to gouge their votes during the election which was concluded on Monday.

Just a few days before people in the breakaway Somaliland territory started voting to elect a new president on Monday, it has augmented its forces in disputed border regions amid fears of poll disruptions, leaving its rival neighboring state of Puntland which worried.

However, as preparation by Somaliland officials to hold a presidential election entered in the final stage, officials in Puntland who have watched it from afar have scrambled to respond, warning Somaliland against going ahead with its plan to extend their vote constituencies into the disputes areas, something seen by locals as knee-jerk reactions.

Unperturbed by the warning, Somaliland has moved ahead with its election plans anyways which saw people in disputed regions formed long lines outside the polling station and voted normally.

Meanwhile, the development had sowed confusion and uncertainty among people in Puntland about their government's ability to protect their territory and people, further eroding public confidence in the current administration which is currently suffering through an extended season of discontent.

According to analysts, the belated response by Puntland officials has created space and time for Somaliland to incorporate disputes regions into its voting constituencies, prompting Puntland leaders to place responsibility for each other.

"Their silence made it all. An advance warning could have changed everything in favor of Puntland because the international community would have intervened to defuse any tension that could trigger confrontations," said Ahmed Mohamed, a political analyst based in Nairobi, referring to Puntland leaders.

"Otherwise, that political move was an own goal in political terms."


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