By Ismail Warsame
Garowe is experiencing shortages of parking spaces and hotel accommodations due to unprecedented influx of candidates, political lobbyists, clan elders, influence-peddlers and spectators of election campaigns. As far as one remembers, there have never been such huge crowds engaged in idle chatters in Garowe before. Paradoxically, they have no say in the decision-making process. Garowe is relatively a small town that cannot handle both the annoying auto- traffic jams and election campaign money that requires extraordinary lunch and dinning tables and banquet spaces, on the top of housing needs of large number of invited guests from other Puntland cities and around the world within the Puntland diaspora.
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There is a great deal of anxiety here among many candidates trying to squeeze themselves into the list of 11 senators-to-be. The State President, Said Abdullahi Deni, who decides upon the fate of unprecedented number of senate aspirants, is keeping his list of names close to his chest, not allowing any leaks on his wishes or intention to come out publicly. Surprisingly, he doesn’t consult with anyone in his selection process. In business, public service and in the world of politics nobody gets a job without vetting and going through an interview. Perhaps, Somalia adheres to lower bar standards based on political loyalty only that is deduced from gossipping groups and chat sessions.
It also shows that one man can keep a secret against the backdrop of the story that Somalis have no secrecy. The news blackout by the Presidency of Puntland on the date of release of the much expected list of senator-nominees have created a situation rife with rumors and wild speculations on who would be in that elusive list. This political situation and the system in which a legislator is selected exclusively by one official begs for answers from Somali population for the sake of their continued survival in a viable nation-state.
The political tension waiting to explode into violence in Dusa-Mareb, Galmudugh, conflict in Beletweyne, Hirshabelle, and arrests of businessmen associated with candidates and banning of opposition candidates to come to Baydhaba, Southwest State, are all indicators that the prevailing electoral process in Somalia isn’t only wrong, but also too dangerous to sustain.