Somalia: UAE-trained troops loyal to incumbent president occupy Puntland parliament

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GAROWE, Somalia - An electoral standoff is brewing in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, with UAE-trained Marine Police Force (PMPF) loyal to outgoing leader Said Abdullahi Deni occupying the parliament complex.

According to multiple sources, the forces are said to have occupied several streets in Garowe including roads leading to parliament, in an apparent attempt to stifle election in January 2024. Parliament voted to extend the term of the lawmakers by one more year.

However, the region's Constitutional Court annulled the process, terming it "illegal and unconstitutional", paving the way for elections in January 2024. Deni has been accused of using UAE-trained PMPF soldiers to intimidate opposition figures while pushing for an extension of his term.

This development comes a day after representatives from the Election Security Committee visited the parliamentary headquarters, expressing their intention to assume control of the premises to aid the operations of the Parliamentary Election Approval Committee.

However, this proposal was met with a lack of consensus. The opposition had accused the elections committee of being partisan, with the leadership also being put in question about the exclusion of the opposition leaders in the whole process.

The parliamentary leadership, Vice President Ahmed Karash, and the candidates have expressed strong opposition to the appointment of the vetting and dispute resolution Committee appointed by Deni, accusing it of favoritism and alignment with the outgoing president.

The tension between the government and the parliamentary leadership has been escalating since Said Abdullahi Deni was politically forced in Puntland to revert to indirect elections. The regional leader had first proposed disputed direct polls, a move opposed by the opposition political formations.

Deni is under pressure to conduct free and fair elections in Puntland but more often than not, he has been linked to a conspiracy to extend his term which expires in the coming days. Puntland is one of Somalia’s most stable states but events in the region have triggered concerns from locals.

Puntland presidential candidate Mohamed Abdirahman Farole warned the incumbent President Said Abdullahi Deni against rigging the 8th January 2024 presidential election. The front-runner called on the president to correct the mistakes in the appointment of the vetting and dispute resolution committee before the situation got out of hand.

GAROWE ONLINE

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