Garowe, Puntland – In a significant meeting this Saturday, President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland hosted Special Representative of the Secretary General Catriona Laing in Garowe. Their discussions centered on critical issues of state building, addressing humanitarian crises, and reinforcing democratic governance in this semi-autonomous Somali region.
Democratic Milestones and Future Elections
Puntland, known for its relative stability within Somalia, has recently demonstrated commendable progress in democratic practices. The region successfully conducted local government elections across 33 districts in May 2023, a significant step in its democratic journey. Looking ahead, President Deni is gearing up for the presidential election scheduled for February 24, 2024, committing to an inclusive and transparent electoral process.
“I commend the President for reaching out to different groups, and encourage him to reach out not just to opposition leaders, elders and clan leaders, but also people who have a stake,” said SRSG Catriona Laing in a statement. Furthermore, her emphasis on consensus-building and peaceful dialogue as foundations for successful elections reflects an acute awareness of the intricate social dynamics at play in Puntland.
Humanitarian Concerns in the Sool Region
The humanitarian crisis in the Sool region, especially concerning the plight of over 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), was a key point of discussion. Catriona Laing commended Puntland for its response to the IDP situation and emphasized the need for dialogue to resolve tensions peacefully.
Engagement in Federal Discussions
The discussions also touched on Puntland’s role in Somalia’s broader federal context. Despite previous challenges in national dialogue participation, President Deni expressed his willingness to reengage and ensure that Puntland’s perspectives are incorporated in Somalia’s state-building efforts.
UN’s Continued Support
This crucial visit by the SRSG Catriona Laing underscores the growing partnership between Puntland and the United Nations in fostering democratization and development. “The United Nations is here to ultimately support the development and peaceful transformation of Puntland” Laing added. “Such a wonderful place of opportunity.” Consequently, this support for democracy demoralises the anti-democracy elements in Puntland.
In summary, the meeting between President Said Abdullahi Deni and SRSG Catriona Laing highlights Puntland’s determination to continue its path as a democratic pioneer in Somalia. The region’s commitment to inclusive political processes and its role in addressing regional and national challenges mark it as an essential player in the quest for stability and prosperity in Somalia.