Heavy-armed soldiers block road linking Puntland’s capital to Galkacyo amid unpaid salaries & election dispute

Garowe, Puntland – Heavily-armed soldiers have blocked the road connecting Garowe, Puntland’s administrative capital, to Galkacyo.

This blockade has resulted in dozens of trucks carrying goods to the central region being stranded at the customs post in the Harfo district of the Mudug region for the second consecutive day.

Furthermore, lorries destined for the coastal town of Bosaso have been refused passage, causing a logistical challenge for businesses and traders.

This is not the first time that Puntland forces have resorted to protest due to unpaid wages. In recent months, instances of soldiers abandoning their frontlines and closing off important ports have become more frequent.

Just a few weeks ago, soldiers stationed in the Golis Mountains left their positions, leading to a road blockade to Bosaso. Shortly after, another group of soldiers closed off the Bosaso port. In response, the Puntland administration swiftly addressed the grievances by disbursing the salaries owed to the protesting forces.

The failure to pay salaries has been a recurring issue within the Puntland army, sparking discontent and leading to acts of revolt. Soldiers and employees have expressed their frustration at the administration’s inability to fulfill their financial obligations.

Amidst these challenges, President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland Regional State has made a significant announcement.

He has pledged to hold multi-party elections in Puntland on January 8, 2024. This declaration comes as opposition politicians threaten to conduct a unilateral election if Deni fails to organize a consensus election early next year. The opposition groups have accused Deni of being preoccupied with his reelection campaign, thereby neglecting the pressing issues faced by the region.

The road blockade and protests by the heavily-armed soldiers highlight the deepening tensions within Puntland. The economic repercussions of the blockade are already being felt, with goods unable to reach their intended destinations. The Puntland administration must swiftly address the issue of unpaid salaries to restore stability and ensure the smooth functioning of essential services.

As the election dispute continues to simmer, it remains to be seen how President Deni will navigate the challenges and work towards a resolution.

The forthcoming multi-party elections will undoubtedly be a crucial turning point for Puntland, shaping its political landscape and determining its future direction.

In the meantime, businesses, traders, and the general public eagerly await a resolution to the salary crisis and the reopening of the road linking Garowe to Galkacyo. The smooth flow of goods and services is vital for the region’s economic stability and the well-being of its citizens.

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