Puntland in chaos: Electoral reforms ignite conflict

Garowe (Caasimada Online) – Garowe, the capital of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, was plunged into chaos on Tuesday as local lawmakers debated potential constitutional amendments regarding the voting system.

According to multiple on-the-ground accounts, the discord led to severe outbreaks of violence, leaving the city gridlocked and businesses shuttered.

A battle over constitutional amendments

Puntland’s regional government announced on social media that the local parliament had given the green light to discuss alterations to the constitution.

The affirmation implied that further deliberations and subsequent voting regarding these constitutional changes are expected to occur soon. However, the announcement was met with immediate unrest.

Local elder Farah Osman detailed the turbulent situation: “Fighting erupted immediately after the Puntland parliament voted for a one-man-one-vote election with multiple political parties.

The lawmakers are still in the building, and a fierce exchange of fire reverberates through the city.”

Paralyzed city and rising fears

Garowe, typically a bustling hub, has come to a standstill as the escalating conflict paralyzes the city’s functionality.

“All roads are closed, all businesses are closed,” said Osman, painting a grim picture of the volatile situation.

Caasimada Online tried to contact local and federal officials for comments, but they were unreachable at the time of writing.

This surge of violence stems from accusations by opposition groups against Puntland’s leader, Said Abdullahi Deni.

The opposition alleges that Deni is pushing for these constitutional amendments in a strategic bid to prolong his tenure beyond its current expiration in January of next year or to swing the electoral results in his favor.

The city’s denizens find themselves in the middle of this political upheaval. “Anti-aircraft guns and machine guns are raining down around Garowe today.

Government forces and other troops and clan militias loyal to opposition politicians are fighting over politics. I closed my shop and ran home,” stated Abdullahi Omar, a local shopkeeper.

As this political tug-of-war ensues in Puntland, the international community watches anxiously.

The future political landscape of this semi-autonomous region, and its impact on the broader Somali political sphere, hangs in the balance.