On Friday, the political battle in Puntland turned violent when demonstrates clashed with Presidential guards in Gardo, the provincial capital of Karkaar region.
The demonstrators gathered in the Town center and the main roads, setting fire to tyres while chanting “No More Farole – No 5 years..”. The riots began just hours before the arrival of Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole.
For weeks, President Farole was delaying his visit to the region, due to heavy opposition on his plans to postpone the presidential elections on 9th of January 2013.
Hundreds of protesters chanting slogans and carrying boards with different messages streamed into the town bringing business to a stand still and Shops remained closed.
The Presidential guards and local police have opened fire on unarmed demonstrators and journalists, when the demonstrators refused to clear the main roads.
According to sources in Gardo, at least one person was killed and four others were wounded in the shooting, but doctors at Gardo General Hospital who spoke to Horseed Media say, four people were shot including one in critical condition.
The delegation led by President Farole, including some cabinet ministers and journalists from Garowe, were hold up on the outskirts of the town for more than two hours, while gunshots were heard in the town center.
The journalists accompanying the president’s delegation were not allowed to cover the riots in the town center. Later the President’s convoy were escorted into the city by heavily armed military equipped with technicals.
This is the second demonstration that takes place during the President’s visit to Gardo, the last time he visited Karkaar region in March 2012, hundreds of Gardo residents gathered in front of his hotel, while chanting slogans against his government.
This is also the second largest demonstration in Puntland for the past two months.
In September, similar demonstration took place, but no one was hurt during those protests, it all began when Puntland Electoral Commission (PEC) visited the region. People have rejected the Electoral commission members who are selected by President Farole.
President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole took office in January 2009 and his term of four years in office will end on 8th of January 2013.
This month, President Farole has announced his own political party (Horsed), which is now the only official political party in Puntland, the President’s party includes all the cabinet ministers, MP’s, regional governors and Mayors. Many people call this one party rule system. While President Farole says he will postpone the elections for another year.
The clan elders and the intellectuals of Puntland in the regions of; Bari, Sanag, Karkaar, Nugal and Mudug, have called on the government not to postpone the elections in 2013, they also rejected the governments plans to hold the first multi party elections in only just 21 districts instead of the 37 districts of Puntland state of Somalia.
Puntland State of Somalia an autonomous region, has been relatively peaceful but in the recent past, residents have expressed fear of escalating insecurity.
– Horseed Media