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Puntland Rejects Federal Institutions in Election Reform Dispute

by Laacib

The semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland announced Sunday it would no longer recognize federal institutions after parliament backed a plan for a one-person, one-vote election system.

It was the latest move in a long-running and sometimes tense saga, with Puntland repeatedly issuing similar declarations in recent years to express its disagreement with the central government in Mogadishu.

Arid Puntland, in Somalia’s northeast, claimed autonomy in 1998, bolstered by natural resources including oil and its Bosaso port.

“The Puntland administration revoked its recognition and confidence in the federal government institutions until an outright constitutional process that is mutually accepted is obtained,” a Puntland statement said.

As a result, “Puntland will have its own comprehensive government authority until a federal government system is in place, with a mutually accepted Somali constitution that is subject to a public referendum.”

Authorities in the region opposed the adoption by parliament of the plan to reintroduce universal suffrage and end the complex clan-based indirect voting system in place for more than half a century in the troubled Horn of Africa nation.

On Saturday, lawmakers approved four of 15 constitutional chapters that are due to be amended later as part of the overhaul.

The Puntland authorities accused President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of violating the constitution and losing his legitimacy.

Former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo also opposed the reform saying the process being used to bring in a presidential system is illegal.

Puntland was one of several federal member states that did not participate in talks for the reform and its president Said Abdullahi Deni did not sign it.

Puntland staged in May last year its first direct vote since 1969 during local council elections, but then went back to the clan-based ballot during parliamentary elections in January.

Somalia is struggling to emerge from decades of conflict while battling natural disasters and a bloody insurgency by Al-Shabab jihadists.

The country has not had nationwide one-person, one-vote elections since 1969, when the dictator Siad Barre seized power


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