Garowe(Mogadishu24)-Puntland State’sPresidential candidates have strongly rejected the list of parliament members announced by the committee for electoral disputes and the approval of members of parliament.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, the opposition candidates announced that they will not participate in an election with a “illegitimate” parliament selected by President Deni

“The opposition presidential candidates confirm to the people of Puntland that they do not recognize a list that contradicts the selection and approval process of the House of Representatives members,” the statement read.

“The candidates also declare that they won’t participate in the election with the illegitimate this list,” the statement added.

They warned President Deni against actions that could lead to destruction, conflicts, and political instability within the region, holding him responsible for any tensions that may arise.

The opposition candidates argued that the parliamentary list lacks legitimacy, as previously stated by the chairman of the committee, who left the committee, citing pressure from the presidency to accept a predetermined list.

This statement came hours after the Puntland State Committee on Electoral Disputes and the vetting of Members of Parliament announced the list of new members of the Puntland Parliament on Monday, including the 17 members from SSC-Khatumo region.

These MPs took oaths today at the Parliamentary building in Garowe and subsequently elected Hassan Abdalla Hassan as the interim Speaker.

Tensions are high in Garowe as there are fears that armed clashes may break out if there immediate action is not take to solve to the situation.

A week earlier, President Deni had declared that the election would involve 66 MPs, a move that the opposition said it involved handpicking 17 SSC Members of Parliament from his close allies.

In December, President Said Abdullahi Deni announced Puntland’s return to the clan-based voting system on January 8, 2024, following mounting pressure from the opposition and elders’ intervention regarding the disputed one-person-one-vote elections system.

The clan-based election system involves the selection of 66 MPs by clan elders to represent them in the House of Representatives, initially including the 17 SSC-Khatumo MPs. Subsequently, these Members of Parliament would elect the president.

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

Armed forces allied to the opposition, and government forces clashed on June 20, 2023, killing over 30 people and injuring 50 others, mostly civilians.

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