Puntland is in the northeastern part of Somalia. According to the BBC country profile, the population is 4.9 million, about 212,510 sq km. The region held a local election in which more than 300,000 people cast votes for their choice of party and representatives. In addition, most major cities in Puntland held local elections for city councils.
Answering the question will require comparing what is considered legitimate and what is not? Who decides what is legitimate? In that context, one can conclude that every society decides what they consider legitimate. For example, according to many from Puntland, the recent election was legitimate because the country Somalia has not had an election based on one person one vote since the 1960s.
Elections are never perfect. As an elected official in the United States, I hear the former president of the United States still claiming he did not lose the 2020 presidential election. I commend the current administration of Puntland holding an election. Teaching people the mechanism of casting a vote is important.
The elucidation that Puntland election was done in a way that favors the current administration. No census was done to determine how many representatives would be elected from each area. For example, the city of Galkayo has more than 500,000 population. Therefore, Gaalkacyo can have different representatives than a small town called Bur-saalax.
Other questions are how many city councils will the city have? Who will elect the mayor? Currently, President Deni appoints the mayors of each major city. There are many questions that the current election needs answers for. Moreover, the administration has few months left of their term. Is there enough time to implement a fair and accessible election by January 2024?
The parties that participated in this election only belonged to specific individuals instead of being parties that anyone could campaign to be a representative of. Those who are against this election have contend that the parties do not have a platform that every candidate has to abide by.According to article 47 of Puntland constitution the next Puntland presidential election will require member of parliament (MP) to elect the president and vice president by secret ballot. If the MPs will elect the president and vice president, when will the election of the MPs based on one person–on vote be held? How many people will each MP represent?
Puntland administration was engendered for the world to see a region in Somalia can have a local administration without seceding from Somalia. Because 1991 Somaliland announced a session from Somalia. Somaliland has not received recognition from the world as an independent country till today. The creation of Puntland has been instrumental in building the current Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). Some say Puntland is the mother of FGS.
The Puntland elections were symbolic because a country has not had an election where people elected their local representatives since 60s. No matter how it was held, seeing the pictures and videos of people in line to cast their vote brought hope that had not been seen before. From now on, people will know that they can demand to elect whomever they feel will best represent them, regardless of clan affiliation.
In conclusion, the Puntland elections have produced a sense of hope that Somalia can conduct a democratic election that is based on one person, one vote. Now the rest of the country will want to replicate the same type of election or even better. The death of clan-based elections is on the horizon. The bulk of the congratulation belongs to President Deni, who, despite his unpopularity, made this happen. This election was historic.
Awale Farah (Holif)
Kent School Board Director