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1 Apr, 2024 14:21

Somali region withdraws recognition of federal government

Puntland says it will not recognize national authority until a dispute over changes to the constitution is resolved
Somali region withdraws recognition of federal government

The authorities of Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in Somalia, have withdrawn from the East African nation’s federal system, in a protest against constitutional amendments passed by the central government.

The Somali parliament in Mogadishu approved a number of constitutional changes on Saturday, including the reinstatement of direct presidential voting, a universal suffrage system that had been abandoned after the 1969 military coup led by Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Horn of Africa country currently runs a clan-based indirect voting system, which has reportedly resulted in infighting and exploitation by militant groups including the al-Qaeda-linked insurgency al-Shabab.

On Sunday, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed off on the revised document, which gives him and future leaders the authority to hire or dismiss the prime minister. Previously, only parliament could remove the premier. President Mohamud claimed the “historic” amendments were necessary for promoting democracy.

However, in a statement on Sunday, Puntland’s council of ministers said the constitution, adopted in 2012, was amended without the input of all Somalis, and warned that the decision poses a threat to Somali unity.

“Puntland will have the power of a full, independent government until there is a federal system of government agreed upon, a constitution agreed by Somalis, and approved through a referendum in which Puntland is part of,” the ministers stated.

Last June, a National Consultative Council, which includes President Mohamud and some regional leaders, met and agreed to hold direct elections as early as this June, and to unify Somalia’s election calendar. Puntland, located in the country’s northeast, did not take part in the reform talks after announcing earlier in the year that it would operate as an “independent government,” citing the alleged undermining of state-building processes.