An East African bloc on Tuesday congratulated Said Abdullahi Deni on being elected the new president of the semi-autonomous state of Puntland in northern Somalia on Tuesday.

Mohamed Ali Guyo, special envoy of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD, an eight-member regional bloc, commended the authorities and all the stakeholders for the orderly, peaceful and transparent conduct of the elections. “The Special Envoy applauds outgoing President, H.E. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, for his service to the regional State and indeed the whole of Somalia,” the bloc said in a statement. Guyo expressed confidence that the 55-year-old president-elect will advance inclusive politics, peace and stability, economic development and consolidation of democracy in Puntland and beyond. He also lauded the outgoing president and all other candidates in the election for their political maturity and good statesmanship by gracefully accepting the outcome.

The special envoy appealed to Deni and all leaders of Somalia “to work together in uniting the country in the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue to help address political and socio-economic challenges facing the country.” He reaffirmed IGAD’s commitment to work with the incoming administration and build on the existing cooperation with the regional state for the benefit of the people in Puntland and Somalia. Deni won Puntland regional leadership contest with 35 out of 66 vote, defeating Asad Osman Abdullahi who gained 31 votes. Deni, a businessman and a politician, was former federal government minister for planning and international cooperation. “A new chapter has opened for this region, a chapter of unity and brotherly relations among Somalis and I hope that the public will find the best in me to fulfill my duties,” Deni said. Incumbent leader Ali failed to get enough votes to progress to second round of voting in the presidential which had no female candidate. The election in Puntland, which is one of six federal states in Somalia, comes after a similar regional election in South West State where a former al-Shabab founder, Mukhtar Robow, who was the front-runner in the polls, was arrested and later removed from the race.


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