Bossaso — The president of Somalia's Puntland government Abdirahman Mohamed Farole has strongly defended Puntland's constitution and statehood, declaring that the ongoing democratization process enjoys public support in Puntland, Garowe Online reports.
President Farole made the statement during an interview with BBC Somali Service on Monday from the port city of Bossaso, saying that his administration "has never requested a term extension" and criticized the media for "misreporting" about developments in Puntland.
"Some media and even BBC has misreported of a 'term extension' in Puntland, but this not true. My administration has never requested any term extension," President Farole said.
President Farole highlighted the milestones of the democratization process in Puntland, saying: "In February 2007, the former Puntland administration [of President Adde Muse Hersi] established a Constitution Review Committee that conducted a legal review and engaged in public consultations on the draft constitution, before presenting the draft constitution to the administration of [former] President Adde Muse."
The Puntland president said that "the Cabinet of the previous administration [of Puntland] approved the draft constitution and submitted it to the Puntland Parliament on June 2, 2008, and by the January 2009 election, that draft constitution that was submitted to parliament was the constitution in effect in Puntland."
President Farole said: "In June 2008, I was in Australia when the draft constitution was approved by the former administration."
Continuing, the president said: "Soon after my election [on January 8, 2009], I nominated a State Minister for Democratization Process [the late Dr. Abdi Hassan Jimale] and undertook a constitution review process, with particular focus on ensuring that the then-draft constitution of Puntland was in accordance with Islamic Shari'ah law and international standards. My administration did not touch the clause relating to term in office for president and parliament of Puntland."
President Farole was responding to criticism from some Puntland politicians, led by former Puntland security minister Gen. Abdullahi Said Samatar, who have issued public statements alleging that President Farole is seeking a 'term extension' in office.
Puntland government officials and the public recognize the Puntland Constituent Assembly convention that concluded in the state capital Garowe on April 18, 2012, where convention delegates adopted the Puntland constitution. The convention was attended by over 800 people, including Puntland titled elders (Issimo), convention delegates from regions and districts of Puntland, civil society members, officials of the former TFG administration in Mogadishu, and U.N. and international diplomats, among others.
Puntland officials accuse some politicians led by Gen. Samatar of being "political spoilers" and rejecting the ongoing process to transition Puntland into a multiparty democracy, after over 14 years of clan-based rule.
Gen. Samatar has publicly rejected the democratization process in Puntland and demanded that traditional elders convene a meeting. Independent sources say that titled elders of Puntland gave "full backing" to the Puntland constitutional adoption and that the titled elders of Puntland "declare their own meetings, but not meetings at the behest of politicians," the sources add.
Six political associations registered in Puntland
Also on Monday, officials of the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) said today is the deadline for registering political associations in Puntland. TPEC officials formally announced that that six political associations have been legally registered in Puntland.
Speaking at a press conference in Garowe, TPEC Chairman Mohamed Hassan Barre said: "Six political associations have qualified and have been legally registered in Puntland State of Somalia. The six are: Horseed, Hor-Cad, Midnimo, Puntland Democratic Party, Wadajir, and Puntland People Party (UDAD)."
The political associations are expected to compete in local elections, slated for mid-2013, according to officials and the TPEC "roadmap".
Informed sources in Puntland note that aspiring leaders including businessmen, intellectuals, and Diaspora activists, have heeded the Puntland government's democratization process and declared their own political associations in Puntland, underscoring growing public support for the ongoing democratization process towards competitive multiparty elections in Puntland.
Located in northeastern Somalia, Puntland territory has been relatively stable with its own government since 1998. In April 2012, Puntland became a full state with its own adopted constitution, under the emerging Federal Republic of Somalia.