Garowe(Mogadishu24)-The President of Puntland State of Somalia, Said Abdullahi Deni, announced on Friday that his administration will conduct free and fair elections in the upcoming presidential election. 

He stated that the State will transition to a ‘one-person-one-vote’ election system, and dismissed the opposition politicians’ demand for traditional parliamentary delegate-based elections.

During a speech at the State’s Presidency, President Deni expressed his unwillingness to extend his term, and stated that the administration is capable to organize an election in which parties compete for the 66 MPs seats, along with the president and vice president positions.

“As the president of Puntland, I announce that we are heading to a timely, democratic elections based on the ‘one-person-one-vote’ system, in accordance with the law. I had no intention to extend my presidential term or bypass the rule of law,” President Deni said.

President Deni clarified that his administration did not prevent opposition politicians from contesting for seats, labeling them as individuals attempting to disrupt the democratic process by creating conflicts among communities. He added that they have the opportunity to compete within their respective parties.

According to local sources, opposition politicians have convened a closed-door meeting after President Deni’s speech, although the meeting’s agenda and outcomes have not been disclosed.

President Deni’s address followed a two-day conference held earlier this week by opposition politicians in Puntland State to voice their concerns about the forthcoming presidential elections. 

The opposition, including former politicians, ministers, and presidential candidates, urged community elders and the current administration to prioritize the implementation of election laws to ensure transparent and fair elections.

Electoral issues in Puntland have been surrounded by controversies over the past three months, with disputes arising between the opposition, community elders, and the administration over electoral amendments.

Puntland State is preparing for its presidential election on January 8, 2024. This election holds huge importance as the state tries to hold its first-ever democratic elections under the “one person, one vote” approach.

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