Puntland State suspends scheduled local elections. It is a serious setback for all concerned and bad news for democratization process. I hope it is a tactical retreat and not shutting the doors to democracy. The so-called opposition leaders want to maintain the status quo for years to come. They don’t know anything better. That explains their resistance to multi-party political competitions.
The Government too approaches and conducts multi-party system under suspicious manners, acting and running like a one-party fashion, compelling all officials under its influence to adhere and be loyal to the Ruling Party. This plays counter to democratic principles and freedom of choice. The Government handling of the process is full of conflicts of interest. This is one of the main reasons as to why the process hit a dead-end and loss of lives. They were not listening to those, who have enough experience on the political reality on the ground in Puntland State of Somalia. Absence of dialogue is never conducive to democratic space. This is core of the problem. My way or the highway position will not fly in Puntland. One should share ideas, solicit for ideas and consult with sincere patriots and time-tested traditional leadership.
Now it is time for the Government to start restoring trust among key players and have ample time for dialogue to build consensus, moving the political process forward. Massive media information, education on the importance of democracy, citizens’ rights and obligations, freedom of individual choice and community awareness are required. To make the right individual election choices, citizens must be informed beyond the sub-clan interests.
At moment, both sides of the debate are trying, in their own excuses and pretext, to stifle democracy. They may succeed for a short period of time, but cannot arrest the political trend in the country and expectation of world community, if Puntland was to survive as a federate State of a Federal Somalia.