Puntland regional state President Said Abdullahi Deni has announced today that local council elections would commence on May 25, 2023, after consulting with the Puntland elections committee.
The local council elections will take place in 37 districts across Puntland, and the electoral commission is currently registering voters.
Tens of thousands of Puntland voters cast their ballots in direct local government elections in October 2021, marking the first time Somalia held a popular vote in over five decades.
However, the democratic electoral exercise was only limited to three districts – Qardho, Eyl and Ufayn – and not without criticism from stakeholders. Despite this, the election was hailed as a success by international partners, including the UN, who visited Qardho and said they were pleased with how it was conducted.
If the elections proceed as planned, Deni will become Puntland’s first president to hold a one-person, one-vote election. However, it appears that the clans still have the most power in the elections for President and Parliament.
Puntland’s former President, Abdirahman Faroole, could not hold the one-person, one-vote election, as the day set for the local government elections was disrupted by the armed opposition.
It is still being determined whether President Deni, now facing strong opposition led by his former friends, will face similar opposition.
Political analysts believe the elections are expected to be a critical test for Somalia in establishing a democratic foundation. If successful, the model will be applied to the other federal member states and, ultimately, at a national level.