The parliament of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland will choose the state’s next leader on 8 January, Reuters has reported. The announcement was made after current leader Said Abdullahi Deni dropped proposed changes to the electoral system that triggered deadly fighting earlier this year.
Regional forces and fighters loyal to the opposition fought fierce street battles in Garowe, Puntland’s capital, in June after Deni sought to make changes to the constitution that would have introduced one-man-one-vote elections.
Opposition groups in Puntland, which lies along Somalia’s north-east Indian Ocean coast, accuse Deni — who holds the title of president and wants a second five-year term — of seeking to tip the ballot in his favour. He has not commented publicly on that allegation.
However, Deni said late on Wednesday that Puntland’s next leader would be chosen according to the existing system by the parliament’s 66 lawmakers, who are themselves selected by clan elders. Puntland’s parliament approved Deni’s proposal for a January election today, and extended its own mandate for a further year.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Deni’s acceptance of a January election “removes the uncertainty surrounding the elections and paves the way for a peaceful and stable future for Puntland,” the country’s state news agency reported.