GAROWE – The semiautonomous northern Somalia state of Puntland faces a potential leadership split just a month before the region holds the much-awaited presidential election after the vice president challenged the president over the formation of a new electoral dispute resolution committee, appointing his own parallel rival-committee, in a political showdown that has raised tensions across the region.
The appointment of the controversial committee by president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali comes amid manipulation and bribery allegations by the independent presidential candidates who accused the regional leader’s state of stacks in electoral process in favor of his ally candidates or for himself.
Monday’s defiant move by the region’s vice president Abdihakim Haji Omar Amey comes shortly after the president proposed the 10-member committee which he dismissed as ‘illegitimate’, accusing the president of violating the region’s constitution.
Mr. Omar’s political spat with the president, the first of its kind Puntland has seen since 2004 followed meetings he held with opposition candidates trying to unseat the outgoing leader.
The new political division that emerged within Puntland’s leadership circle heaped further pressure on president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali who is positioning himself for a potential run in the forthcoming presidential election.
Meanwhile, all political parties continue holding their last public rallies and corner meetings across the region as their candidates have criss-crossed in their respective constituencies, wooing locals with promises of economic development and prosperity weeks before the election which is expected to be a highly contested one.
Over 10 presidential candidates are cleared to stand in the forthcoming election which is scheduled to take on January 8 next year, a record number for the region which a reputation for holding peaceful elections since it was established in 1998.