Garowe (PP Features) — Puntland democratisation process is coming under fire from one of Puntland political leaders. Writing in WardheerNews, a news website, Mohamed Ismail Mohamed (Siibad), the Chairman of Mustaqbal, a Puntland-registered political association, deplored the failure on the part of Puntland political class to conduct one person, one vote elections before and after 2002.
The constitution endorsed in 2012 is incompatible with both the democratisation process and the second attempt to conduct local government elections, argued Ismail, who recommends constitutional review as the path to removing barriers to genuine democratisation in Puntland.
Two aspects of the electoral law — the restriction of competive politics to three political associations, and the denial of Puntland people their “right” to nominate “their favourite candidate” to contest Puntland presidency without being nominated by one of the three political associations that will graduate to political parties — are the target of Ismail’s critique.
Ismail contends that the Puntland electoral law disenfranchises citizens due to powers invested in political associations when it comes to Puntland presidential elections. In the essay Ismail takes an issue with the decision to conduct pilot local elections only in three Puntland districts. He views it as a violation of article 44 of Puntland Constitution, which states that “voting will be universal…”
While the decision to hold local government elections only in three designated districts gives a sufficient reason to have reservations about planned elections, why Mustaqbal Chairman favours direct democracy over a multiparty system is puzzling. Ismail draws attention to other anomalies in Puntland Constitution particularly articles about spreading disinformation. Puntland Constitution was written to regulate competing interests of citizens who identify firstly with shared kinship rather than citizenship. Its foundations are the customary law. Currently, Puntland State Government news is tightly controlled by the incumbent administration. There is a limited role for private media outlets despite the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission introducing guidelines that “ensure fair use of government media by registered political associations”.
TPEC Chairman Guled Salah recently met representatives from the International Community in Nairobi to seek support for the democratisation process in Puntland. Planned local government elections in Puntland raise questions of legitimacy against the three political associations that will have become political parties. Only a segment of Puntlanders will exercise their right to vote in local elections. The outcome of the democratisation process in Puntland will likely become more contested and less democratic than the current, clan-based elections held in Puntland Parliament premises once every five years.
© Puntland Post, 2020