President Deni receives a warm welcome as he returns to Puntland
GAROWE, Puntland - Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni on Sunday returned to Garowe, the capital of the Somali Federal state, weeks after leaving for Mogadishu and Nairobi in which he was closely involved in a pre-election deal that was signed last month.
Deni, who is a critic of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, first visited Mogadishu for the election talks which saw him and his Jubaland counterpart Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe agree with three other regional leaders and the federal government on the model of elections the country will embrace.
The team agreed to adopt the Constituency Caucus model, which would see 101 delegates pick MPs per constituency before presidential elections are held later on in February. The model is perceived to be an improved version of the clan-based system.
After the historic deal, Deni travelled to Nairobi where he's been holed up for a series of political meetings. He held talks with former Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, who has expressed interest in the presidential race, and who he enjoys a cordial relationship with.
At Garowe, he was received by a host of government officials with a heavy presence of security. The officers were seen leading him to the streets of Garowe where he greeted enthusiasts who had gathered to receive him to the town.
The president hailed stakeholders for working together to solve the electoral impasse in Somalia, adding that the country will undergo a smooth transition after the exercise is concluded. He said the country should ensure the agreement is implemented to avoid possible chaos.
"Have arrived safely in Garowe today. We spent approximately three months to reach an agreement on the model of 2020/2021 election, started from Dhusamareeb consultation conference 1, 2 and 3, and finalised it in Mogadishu," he said in a tweet.
"As always, Puntland will play its role and contribute to strengthening the unity of Somalia. Would sincerely thank the leaderships of FGS, FMS, Federal Parliament, BRA and all political stakeholders for their efforts," he added.
Deni is one of the leaders who has been putting Farmajo on toes since 2017 and has persistently called for an equitable share of resources in Somalia. He was among the first leaders to reject Petroleum Law and later, the electoral law which was signed by Farmajo under controversial circumstances.
Although it's not clear who he is going to support, it's however evident that he has a soft spot on Hassan Ali Khaire. Farmajo is facing a pre-election nightmare with Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsane and former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud also interested in the seat.