Somalia's Puntland suspends polls, warning of violence
Monday, July 15, 2013
Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland has suspended
long-awaited local elections, its government said Sunday, saying the
risk of violence was too great to hold them.
suspends the local council elections" due to held Monday, a government
statement read, warning of what it called "domestic spoilers and
external manipulators funding and organising instability and election
It gave no further details on who it feared would cause the violence.
United Nations special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay called the
suspension "wise" and urged restraint from all sides "following violent
Puntland, which forms the very tip of the Horn of Africa
along the Indian Ocean coast and the Gulf of Aden, recognises the
central government in Mogadishu, but wants autonomy within a federation
Clashes have broken out in political rallies in the
region -- including in the town of Galkayo earlier this month in which
five people were killed -- although other demonstrations passed off
While relatively stable compared to war-torn southern
Somalia, it also hosts pirate gangs on its coastline as well as multiple
militia forces, while Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters have set up bases
in its rugged Golis mountains.
Tensions have risen ahead of the
elections, with the Puntland government clamping down on press freedom,
including ordering shut three private radio stations.
Some opposition groups are accused by the government of operating their own militia forces.
No date has been set for the elections, with the Puntland government saying only they would be held "when it is appropriate".