22 November 2012

Somalia: The Future of Puntland Is in Multiparty System


Puntland is advancing on the correct political path, to give an opportunity to the state's future generations.

Over the past 14 years ago, Puntland State of Somalia has trekked along at its own pace rebuilding basic institutions and managing regional affairs. This is clear indication of the Puntland people's commitment to state-building, self-government and progress as part of federal Somalia. Puntland's achievements, with limited external support, have been remarkable in re-instituting government organs and providing basic services to citizens, underpinning the Puntland people's commitment to live a life of peace and development.

On Sept. 11, 2012, the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) announced that political associations could be legally registered for the first time in Puntland - a milestone on Puntland's journey towards multiparty political system. So far, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole has declared Horseed political association consisting of government officials to compete in local elections slated for May 2013. More recently, a second political association named Puntland Democratic Party (PDP) was declared, and more political associations is expected to be announced in the coming days.

This process is the future of Puntland, as the clan representation system has contributed to peace in Puntland and time is long due to advance towards competitive elections based on merits and competency, and away from the old system of selection process by clan elders.

Some political groups and media agencies in Puntland have the made the absurd argument that returning to clan representation - by way of clan elders selecting 66 Members of Puntland Parliament - is a viable option. Their justification is that President Farole is 'extending his term of office by one year'. This absurd argument, which lacks neither legal nor political substance, is based more on dislike of the incumbent leadership or some politicians' power hungry tendencies than any genuine political position with the interest of Puntland at heart. To those detractors, we say: the future of Puntland is multiparty system and this train is moving forward.

If President Farole wished to extend his term, something that is not within his constitutional authority, why would he only extend for one year? Why not extend for two or three years? Moreover, President Farole has publicly appealed for legitimate political groups in Puntland to form political associations, compete in upcoming elections, and contribute to the state's political development. Instead, the monotone message from some political groups and media agencies has been misplaced and aims to mislead the Puntland public.

Puntland is advancing on the correct political path, to give an opportunity to the state's future generations. By opening up the political system, the hope is to motivate political activism providing the Puntland people new opportunities based on merit and competency, and this is a much-anticipated and welcome political evolution for Puntland.

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