Somalia: Puntland Elects Senators as Polls Heat Up in Somalia

Mogadishu, Somalia (file photo).

Puntland state of Somalia has become the latest federal region to elect its senators as the race to select new legislators in the country's bicameral Parliament heats up.

On Wednesday, Puntland, Somalia's oldest federal member state, made history after it elected three women among the 11 senators who will join the Upper House of the 11th Parliament.

The election followed a controversial nomination list presented by state President Said Abdullahi Deni. And even the contest itself ended earlier than predicted. Nine senators were elected unopposed after their opponents quit the race. Competition was only on two seats and in both cases, winners scored more than 80 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, Mr Deni had issued a list of 22 candidates to contest for the 11 seats, three of which were reserved for women contestants. Stakeholders of Somalia's election process had agreed to reserve 30 percent of the all the seats in the bicameral Parliament for women in a bid to ensure inclusivity.

The outcome of the voting by the legislators in the local parliament in Garowe town, some 1,000 km northeast of Mogadishu, on Wednesday produced 8 male senators and 3 female victors.

The three women senators are Ms Zeinab Ismael Mohamed 'Timbiye,' Ms Samira Mohamoud Haji Awad and Ms Saredo Mohamed Hassan 'Jayte'.

Puntland's new senators include its former president Abdurahman Mohamed Farole and former vice president Mohamed Ali Yusuf 'Gaagaab'.

So far, Puntland Jubbaland and South West states have held senate elections. Two women and three men were elected in South West State while Jubbaland elected four men.

South West and Jubbaland conducted partial elections as clans bickered over who should contest.

In most of the polls so far, these contests have seen names dropped from nominations lists. In Puntland, President Deni dropped the names of two outgoing senators from the nomination list, causing protests from their supporters.

Meanwhile, the President of Galmudug State in Central Somalia, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoorqoor, has issued a list containing 12 names to compete for 6 senator seats.

Qoorqoor's list, announced early Wednesday, indicates that four women will contest for two seats reserved for the female gender.

Mohamed Nur Ga'al, the Speaker of Galmudug's Parliament, announced that the election for the six seats will take place on Thursday.

Like Jubbaland, South West and Hirshabelle states, Galmudug is allocated eight senate seats.

With the nomination list only indicating nomination for 6 seats, it means 2 other seats will be filled later. This is a similar case to Jubbaland, which is yet to fill 4 seats and South West 3 seats.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who is currently visiting Kenya, had urged all the five Federal Member States to accelerate the election processes.

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