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Cablegate: Somalia - a Primer On the Puntland Elections

VZCZCXRO7829
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2899/01 3661127
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311127Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8100
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002899

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM SOCI SO
SUBJECT: Somalia - A Primer on the Puntland Elections

1. (SBU) Summary: The semi-autonomous region of Puntland will hold
presidential elections on January 8, 2009. The President will be
elected by the Parliament. Following the disputed elections of
2001/2002 and the departure of then Puntland President Abdullahi
Yusuf for the Transitional Federal Government presidency, Somalia
watchers are hoping for a more orderly process this time around.
This is the first of a series of reports on the Puntland elections.
End summary.

Background
----------

2. (SBU) Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland is preparing
for parliamentary and presidential elections, which will take place
in December 2008 and January 2009, respectively. The current
Parliament came to power in December 2004. The incumbent President
assumed office in the same month, when then Puntland President
Abdullahi Yusuf was chosen to be Transitional Federal Government
President. The terms of Parliament and the President expire at the
end of this year.

3. (SBU) Puntlanders, especially the candidates, have spent much
time and effort debating which law will govern the January 2009
election: the 1998 transitional constitution or the 2008 draft
constitution, which the Council of Ministers approved in August.
The draft constitution has not been approved by referendum, which is
necessary in order for it to take effect. Among the changes
proposed in the draft constitution are a four-year Presidential term
(as opposed to the five-year term proposed in the 1998
constitution), and an independent electoral commission comprising at
least fifteen members.

Election Mechanics
------------------

4. (SBU) The Puntland president is elected by the 66 members of
Parliament. The MPs are selected by their respective clan elders.
Each clan has a designated number of MPs. The Parliament
Ratification Commission approves the MPs' candidacies after
confirming that they have the full support of their clan leaders.
The MPs in turn elect the speaker of Parliament, the President, and
the Vice President.

Controversy Surrounding
the 2009 Elections
----------------------
5. (SBU) In response to disagreements about the 2009 election
procedures, a group of traditional elders conducted a ten-day
meeting in early December. The elders determined that the
Parliament Ratification Commission would have seven members. Barkhad
Ali Salah, policy adviser to current President Mohamud "Adde" Muse
Hersi, will remain the commission's chairman and representative from
Bari region, where Bossaso is located. The remaining six members
will be appointed by the opposition (members for Nugal, Mudug and
Ayn), while the current president was to appoint members from Sool,
Sanaag, and Karkar regions.
6. (SBU) Another issue was security forces to maintain order during
the election process. The traditional leader's document calls for
the establishment of a 300-strong police force, the members of which
will be drawn from different districts, to patrol Puntland's
capital, Garowe, during the elections. The force was to be
commanded by the Puntland government until December 31, according to
the signed document. The traditional elders resolved that they
would supervise the force from January 1 - 10, when the
newly-elected administration would assume command.

7. (SBU) Finally, after opposition candidates expressed concerns,
the traditional elders forbade the incumbent President from using
public funds to finance his campaign.

The Campaign
------------

8. (SBU) Indirect elections means that campaigning in the community
is less important than winning support from the 66 MPs. Among the
techniques employed have been bribery, appealing to clan loyalties
among the sitting MPs, and efforts by candidates to leverage their
popularity. In most cases candidates have launched their runs well
before the official, November 8 start of the official campaign.

The Candidates
--------------


NAIROBI 00002899 002 OF 002


9. (SBU) Nearly twenty candidates, including many from the Diaspora,
have declared their candidacy for the presidency. The incumbent
was seen as an early favorite, but observers now believe the
election could go to another candidate (septel). Following are
biographical sketches of the six frontrunners:

-- Mohamud Musse Hersi (Darod/Kabalah/Harti/Majerteen/Mohamud
Saleebaan): The current president's campaign is well-financed and he
has a close relationship with many of the MPs. Hersi, however, has
been heavily criticized for security lapses, which have seen the
kidnapping of foreigners, an increase in piracy, and capture of the
Sool region by Somaliland troops.

-- Nuuradiin Aden Diiriye (Darod/Kabalah/Harti/Majerteen/Mohamud
Saleebaan): A young, educated candidate, well known by members of
the international community. His campaign is also well-financed.

-- General Abdullahi Ahmed Jama (Darod/Kabalah/Harti/Warsengeli): A
former Somali government official whose military background, some
believe, will allow him to improve security in Puntland.

-- Ali Abdi Aware (Darod/Kabalah/Harti/Majerteen/Mohamud Saleebaan):
Former Foreign Minister for President Hersi's government and a
highly respected politician.

-- Abdirahman Mohamed Faroole (Darod/Kabalah/Harti/Majerteen/Mohamud
Saleebaan): Formerly a minister for the Puntland government with
strong financial backing.

(Note: The Harti clan, from which all candidates come, dominates
Puntland. The Mohamud Saleebaan sub-clan is the clan of
recently-resigned TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf.)

The Issues
----------

10. (SBU) All candidates have the same general platform: improving
security, increasing foreign investment, more employment
opportunities, and recovering the Sool region, which was captured by
Somaliland troops about one year ago.
RANNEBERGER

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