Garowe — The six registered political associations in Somalia's northern autonomous Puntland region are opening up regional offices and actively recruiting supporters, in preparation for local elections in mid-2013, Garowe Online reports.
On Dec. 31, 2012, the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) declared that six political associations are qualified under the first phase of registration process.
However, TPEC requires the six registered political associations to qualify under a second phase of the registration process, which includes opening regional offices and bringing the verified signatures of at least 1,500 supporters across Puntland's eight administrative regions.
Political associations, such as the government's Horseed political association, and legitimate opposition groups such as Midnimo and Wadajir political associations, have opened up offices in Garowe, Bossaso, Galkayo, and Badhan town in Sanaag region so far, local sources say.
Puntland Cabinet ministers have also arrived in Galkayo, Badhan and Dhahar towns to open Horseed political association's regional offices, and other political associations are taking similar steps ahead of a Feb. 10th deadline imposed by TPEC to complete the second phase of registration.
Moreover, the competing political associations have been engaging in regular meetings with civil society groups, conducting fundraising activities, and recruiting supporters.
TPEC officials say that the political associations that qualify during the second phase of registration will compete in local elections and that the three political associations with most votes in local elections results will become the state's three official political parties, in accordance with the Puntland constitution.
Since its formation in 1998, Puntland has aspired to open up its political system and establish multiparty elections. President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole has pledged to advance Puntland towards multiparty elections and the region is currently bustling with political activity, with various political associations competing for support.