Deni isn't secret candidate in Somalia's presidential race, says Puntland


GAROWE, Puntland - Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni is not interested in running for the presidency ahead of Somalia's upcoming elections, Puntland has said, just hours after a tip federal minister made sensational allegations on Twitter, causing anxiety in the country.

In a tweet, Gamal Mohamed Hassan, the Minister for Planning, who also doubles as a federal MP from Puntland, claimed the regional president is keen to contest the upcoming elections, which are scheduled for October 10 this year.

Gamal, a close ally of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, told Deni to "recuse himself from election-related issues" and "immediately stop meddling in the affairs of electoral technical committees". This was the first major allegation that Deni is planning to run.

"We can no longer silently watch the blatant disregard for democratic integrity by Puntland administration," Gamal, a former Somali ambassador to Kenya said, in what could ignite political rifts in the country healing from a long electioneering period.

"While Deni has delayed the announcement of his candidacy in order to gain influence and control over elections in Puntland, clan elders, representatives and parliamentary candidates have all expressed grave concern at the extent of manipulation, intimidation, and meddling," he added.

But in a quick rejoinder, Puntland dismissed the allegations as "groundless" in a statement issued by spokesperson Jama Deperani, arguing that the minister was on a mission to taint the leader of Somalia's oldest state.

"Minister Gamal Your tweet is no different from the past ones where you used this platform to incite violence and conflict in Puntland. Puntland is a 23yrs old state, having previously held elections at state and federal levels, some of which resulted in the single vote as the difference," he said.

"After 23 years with demonstrable maturity, it is unfortunate that you are trying to paint a bad picture of Puntland and its people! History remains the judge," added the spokesperson, in a statement that was also quoted by Puntland presidency.

Gamal is a candidate for the House of Representatives of the FG of Somalia in the elections that are scheduled for August 10 to September 10 this year. Jamal, during his tenure as a member of the cabinet, was very close to the outgoing President Farmajo.

Somalia is set to go for elections from July 25 which will culminate in presidential polls on October 10, 2021. Among those seeking to ouster, Farmajo includes former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud along with former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.


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