Universal Suffrage That Will Destigmatize Semi-Autonomous Region Of Puntlan

By Mohamed Hussein Mentalist
Somalia Universal Suffrage That Will Destigmatize Semi-Autonomous Region Of Puntlan
OCT 31, 2021 LISTEN

MOGADISHU. SOMALIA: Civic education process which was initiated a couple of months ago and was intended to teach and indoctrinate Puntland denizens the priority of democratic elections in which the registered voters will freely elect their local council representatives or local councillors.

Plethora of teams were trained how to hold and conduct free, fair, credible and transparent local election and soon followed by electioneering in which candidates vying for the local council were offered plenty of time to address and persuade their election manifesto and platform to the dwellers of the local constituency.

All the candidates stated what he or she will perform if elected and unanimously pledged to serve their demonyms seriously and then local elections were officially commenced and thousands of registered voters were seen standing outside of the polling stations to cast their ballot for the first time in the history of Puntland's first direct elections.

Tens of thousands of Puntland residents turned up and thronged to vote on Monday, it officially opened up democratic space in Somalia, a region that has been grappling with protracted and myriad of challenges old decades.

Tge incumbent Puntland administration under the tutelage of Siad Abdullahi Deni will be recorded the historical books of the election and history will judge for conducting and implementing a process started by Mohamed Farole, who served as Puntland's president from 2009-2014 was evidently euphoric for leading three districts to the first-ever universal suffrage election.

Puntland which describes and considers itself to be the mother of Somalia's federalism system was founded in 1998 and the first president of the regional autonomy of Puntland was late military veteran Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Who also became the president of the transitional federal government of Somalia in 2004-2008.

The process of the election and democratization got its greenlight under the administration of the current Senator Farole and still fledgling and remain embryonic. The exercise and pilot-testing of free and transparent local elections is being held and conducted in three districts of Qardho,Eyl and Ufeyn simultaneously and it is observed and dominated by the transitional Puntland's electoral commission. (TPEC).

On early Monday morning, thousands of zealous people were seen trickling to various polling stations to exercise their democratic and constitutional rights. Numerous photos taken from some of the polling stations showed young, old and infirm people from both genders queuing to vote for their preferred candidates.

The council members who will manage election process and their victories will be first-ever to be picked in a secret ballot box. Previously Puntland used the indirect election introduced and imposed on Somalia in 2000 Arta conference hosted by Djibouti. Which was clan-based formula of 4.5 model usually used in post-conflict countries and based on proportional representation which authorize clan elders choose leaders.

Being first-ever democratic exercise in Somalia since 1968 when the autocratic and military regime conducted pseudo-registration of voter and quasi-democratic universal suffrage in which voter overwhelming voted the ruling party, the socialist and revolutionary party under the tutelage of military junta led by major general Mohamed Siad barre. But local and international observers unanimously concurred and approved that the elections were marred by massive vote-rigging, intimidation, gerrymandering and ballot stuffing.

In today's local elections at least 37,000 people of the 48,000 who had officially registered will get voting card and will be eligible to participate the direct polls. Approximately 11,000 people had not picked their voter's cards. The current local polls will set a historic precedent in the universal suffrage which was never conducted recently in Somalia.

Three districts which were officially demarcated or delineated recently have a total of 54 polling stations, eight political associations will take part in this exercise which could also feature 499 candidates who will contest for 87 seats in the local council.

People living with disabilities or physically handicapped and internally displaced people (IDPs) have been offered a historic and unprecedented chance to freely participate in the election exercise. This makes strong case for Bottom-up democracy, said Abdimalik Abdullaahi, a researcher on the Horn of Africa affairs.

TPEC in A series of Tweets, warned impersonators imitating registered and eligible voters or trying to fabricate fake voting cards or accessing and infiltrating polling stations those found guilty, it noted

Will be subjected to harsh penalties including monetary fine not not limited or confined to imprisonment according to the election laws.

Voter cardholders will be monitored very closely and their fingers will be marked with indelible ink clarifying that the voter had already voted and if attempt to vote twice he or she will be incarcerated and remanded into custody indefinitely.

All eligible voter cardholders stand in long queues in assembly to cast votes first time in five decades and some voters were extremely jubilant because they hadn't had such chance in their lifetime voter impersonators are restrained from accessing polling stations and if anyone is apprehended, suspected and found guilty will be handed over to the law enforcement agency. The electoral body said.

To increase the integrity and transparency of the polling exercise the TPEC through the leadership of Guled Salah has set an election situation room. (ESR) where election results will be transmitted electronically. All information relevant to the polls.,TPEC added, will be disseminated from the room.

The chairman Guled Salah of TPEC of Puntland participated in the launching ceremony of the election situation room(ESR) which will be a center to analyze the election conduct and disseminate election related issues and information and preliminary results will not be announced until vote tallying and verification process of the eligible voters and come to an end and polling stations to be closed on their timeline.

Last year Somalia tried to hold universal suffrage or direct polls but the National independent electoral commission (Niec) failed to do voter registration in timeframe. Istipulated in fact, Stakeholders agreed to use the improved clan-based system which is yet to yield fruits after all.

The exercise now takes Puntland to the level of other modern Democracy that have made decisions in the ballot and will be a positive role model to the other federal member states as well as federal government of Somalia the massive success of the exercise may after all decide the future of Somalia often portrayed as a breeding ground for terrorists and pirates by the global media when it comes about coverage.

Somalia was a country that enjoyed democratic space about five decades ago. And Somalia was once called the Switzerland of Africa and the breadbasket of Horn of Africa but it was wracked and ruined a vicious cycle of clan and theological conflicts, but currently the country is recovering and will stand with its own feet on the right trajectory and its people are quite resilient.


MOHAMED HUSSEIN MENTALIST. Author, blogger, prominent researcher, Horn of Africa affairs analyst and senior lecturer at Mogadishu University

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