Monday October 8, 2018
GAROWE (HOL) – Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland state imposed a ban on political gatherings, despite presidential elections scheduled for early next year, heaping pressure on independent presidential candidates who started large election campaigns across the region.
The move which analysts warned could fester tensions between the state and candidates trying to unseat the incumbent president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas in the upcoming election is seen as a veiled attempt by the outgoing regional leader to derail the electoral process through pressure in order to extend his term.
“We hereby inform the public that no political gatherings or activities can be held in Garowe without the prior approval of the state.” The state warned in a statement issued by the region’s security committee, referring to Puntland’s capital.
With the new ban on political gatherings in place, president Ali has spent months positioning himself for a potential run in the upcoming election which is expected to draw nearly ten candidates running for the region’s top seat.
In recent weeks, presidential candidates have criss-crossed their respective constituencies in the region, wooing locals with promises of economic development and prosperity for Puntland which is fighting two rebel groups from the rival al-Shabab group and the so-called Islamic state.
Meanwhile, the regional state cited potential security concerns as reasons why the ban has been imposed.