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Somalia’s Puntland will hold local government elections Thursday, the first democratic polls since 1967 for the semi-autonomous state that has long been known as a haven for international piracy and a hideout for Islamic jihadist groups in the Horn of Africa, Bloomberg reported.

The vote will see the ruling KAAH party of President Said Dani compete against six other parties. Election officials said more than 400,000 people have registered to cast ballots.

International organizations including the African Union and the United Nations supported the polls, saying they have “the potential to inform and inspire the expansion of democracy across Somalia, at all levels of government.”

The landmark elections follow a series of agreements between various political actors, including the Puntland state and the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission, according to the Rift Valley Institute, a non-profit organization currently working in eastern and central Africa.

The local government polls come as Somalia continues to grapple with internal conflict as it has for more than 30 years.

In 1998, Puntland declared autonomy after the rest of the country collapsed into anarchy, but it has not sought independence, the BBC wrote.

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