Photo: Courtsey of the BBC
The latest political announcements (press statements) by Puntland political parties and their petition to Puntland State President, the Electoral Commission and to some members of the international community under the heading: Resolving Local Municipality Elections Stalemate, issued in Garowe, March 21, 25, 2013, indicate either the non-existence of mutual dialogue or break-down of political discourse within the State on the best way forward for holding local government elections. A number of political parties including UDAD, Midnimo, PDP and Wadajir seem to have forged an association to challenge the Government on its latest reform proposals and planned changes in Voter IDs registration. Among other things, these new political parties demand the immediate delay of Municipal Elections in Puntland until adequate preparations are done to insure fair public participation and a new independent Electoral commission installed.
As a neutral person on the current disagreements, “stalemate” as they put it, I think it is not appropriate for me to comment on these specific documents and respective political statements surround these issues, despite repeated requests by members of the Puntland public to do so.
Discussing democratization process in Puntland State, however, gives me a great deal of pleasure. But, it is long overdue. It is unfortunate that Puntland State has not come out of age yet and still in the woods. In other words, Puntland has been heavily suffering far too long from political stagnation since its foundation in August 1998. Democratization in the State has never been in the good books of its successive leaders as it was never contemplated as political imperative or priority for the continued survival and sustainability of the regional administration against all imaginable upheavals of Somali clan politics and rocky relationships with the rest of Somalia.
It is extremely important to note here that rushing things of such importance and magnitude is not wise for it creates more problems and serious fatal errors in hasty fashion to feel and look good in the eyes of foreign donor community. The fate of the State hangs on it and nobody has the right to gamble at the expense of nation’s existence, public safety and regional political stability. It requires tremendous efforts, resources, thorough preparatory work and ample time to build political consensus and legal framework for the final implementation of the electoral process in fair and transparent manners.
They said commonly, “A thousand-step journey starts with first one”. Leaders of Puntland State (authority and opposition) task and obligation to their people is to make sure that ‘One First Step” towards democratization must be moved straight forward towards the right direction. The alternative spells danger and political suicide for all concerned.