Somalia: Puntland president appoints election dispute negotiators amid standoff

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GAROWE, Somalia - Embattled Puntland leader Said Abdullahi Deni has appointed elections dispute negotiators amid opposition protests in the state, with stakeholders calling for order after weeks of tussles that left a number of people injured and businesses destroyed.

On Monday night, Deni appointed a seven-member committee that will represent his side in negotiations following pressure from the international partners who have been calling for dialogue. Puntland is one of Somalia's most stable states.

According to Deni, whose tenure is set to expire on January 8th, the appointments were made following consultations involving his team, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and a number of political parties. He did not mention the parties involved.

A fortnight ago, the opposition rejected calls for dialogue, citing Deni's condescending attitude and failure to acknowledge constitutional term limits. The team also rejected the proposed universal suffrage polls, noting that the region must adopt the traditional model of elections.

According to the group, universal suffrage polls would hold an advantage to Deni following an "opaque" voter registration exercise. The group further insists only a traditional approach to elections would solve the current electoral conflict, a move opposed by the government.

For several months now, the regional assembly of Puntland has been facing allegations of changing electoral laws in support of term extension, leading to the mobilization of troops and militia within the state. The government is believed to be mobilizing the Puntland Marine Police Force [PMPF] against critics.

Deni's committee comprises Abdi Farah Said Juha [Chairman], Ibrahim Artan Haji Bakin [Member], Dr. Naima Abdirahman [Member], Abdullahi Mohamed Hassan [Member], Mohamed Abdirahman Dhabancad [Member], Hassan Yusuf Majabe [Member] and Hassan Caballa Hassan.

So far, the opposition group is expected to respond to the committee's appointment but had opposed moves for dialogue after Deni was quoted dismissing attempts for discussion on the electoral model. The opposition has further insisted elections must take place in January 2024.

GAROWE ONLINE

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