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Puntland raises concerns over Somali federal constitution changes

Tuesday March 26, 2024

GAROWE, Somalia — The government of Puntland has issued a stern warning against recent changes proposed to the Somali Transitional Constitution, emphasizing the region's historical commitment to a consensus-driven, federated governmental framework. The statements follow rising tensions between the semi-autonomous region and Somalia's Federal Government over constitutional reforms.

Since its pivotal role in the 2004 Mbagathi Conference and subsequent Garowe agreements, Puntland has been a key player in shaping Somalia's post-conflict governance. These efforts culminated in the adoption of the Transitional Constitution in 2012, a deal reached by a wide-ranging Somali delegation.

In the statement, Puntland reminded that Somalia's federal, democratic, and multi-party system could not be amended unilaterally. However, recent moves by Somalia's Federal Government, particularly concerning amendments without broad agreement, have sparked controversy. 

Puntland officials expressed that the changes discussed in the National Consultative Forum (NCC) and excluding Puntland's input violated the cooperative spirit intended for the nation's recovery and governance.

The disputed changes include proposals some perceive as threatening national unity and contrary to Islamic principles, diverging from agreed-upon constitutional frameworks. The Puntland government is also critical of the Somali Parliament's current constitutional revision efforts, stating that foundational aspects of the constitution are being altered without consensus, undermining the established federalization, reconciliation, and power-sharing agreements.

Puntland claims it has sought dialogue with the Somali Federal Government, a move previously welcomed by other political figures and former leaders but currently ignored by the sitting president. The regional government's appeals for discussion focus on maintaining national unity, federal system integrity, and the agreed-upon interim constitution.

Puntland's statement also formally notified Somali national authorities and international stakeholders, including the US, UK, EU, UN, AU, and others, about its non-compliance stance should the new constitutional changes proceed without a collective agreement.

Below is the translated version of Puntland's press release.


GAROWE, March 26, 2024

The government of Puntland and its people have long been at the forefront in adopting a governmental system rooted in consultation, cooperation, and a federated structure through consensus. Notably, Puntland played a pivotal role in the national dialogue at the Mbagathi Conference in Kenya, 2004, and significantly contributed to the development of the Garowe 1 and Garowe 2 agreements on December 24, 2011, and February 18, 2012, respectively. These were later ratified in Mogadishu by a delegation of 825 members in August 2012, culminating in the adoption of the Transitional Constitution by the Somali populace.

As stated in Article 1 of the Transitional Constitution, Somalia has committed to a federal, democratic, and multi-party system, which cannot be unilaterally altered by any single entity.

The Puntland government consistently emphasizes the urgency to finalize the interim constitution. A prerequisite for this completion is the resolution of political disputes concerning the hurdles outlined in Articles 50, 51-54, and Article 9 of the Transitional Constitution. These articles address the delineation of governmental powers, the judicial system, and the allocation of national resources.

Puntland vehemently objects to and cautions against recent developments in the framing of the federal system in Somalia, particularly actions taken by the Federal Government's leadership to amend the Transitional Constitution without consensus. This includes the unauthorized alterations discussed in the National Consultative Forum (NCC), sidelining Puntland's participation and consent.

It is regrettable, from Puntland's perspective, that the Federal Government's leaders aim to discard the Transitional Federal Constitution in favor of a new one, perceived by certain segments of the Muslim community as a threat to the Somali nation's unity and identity, contradicting the principles outlined in Chapter 1, Article 1, and Article 7 of the Transitional Constitution. Furthermore, the procedural steps required for reviewing and amending the Transitional Constitution, as specified in Chapter 15, Articles 132-134, have been sanctioned.

The Somali Parliament lacks the authority and legitimacy to enact a new constitution unilaterally; only a completion of specific articles is warranted. The elimination of numerous clauses, some foundational, without consensus, and contrary to the prescribed reviewal process of the Transitional Constitution, the introduction of new sections, and significant changes to existing ones, transform the Constitution fundamentally. These actions breach the collaborative framework established post-collapse for federalization, reconciliation, and power-sharing.

The Puntland government contends that the philosophical underpinnings of the new Constitution emerge from dubious advice, potentially jeopardizing the Somali Government's stability and cohesion.

Puntland has expressed its disdain, having extended an offer for dialogue, which was disregarded by the President of Somalia—a gesture previously welcomed by former presidents, prime ministers, and political figures.

Puntland urgently appeals to the President of Somalia to cease efforts towards drafting a new constitution and instead, to foster a dialogue to safeguard national unity, the integrity of the federal system, and the consensus-based interim constitution.

The Government of Puntland formally notifies the President of Somalia, the Speaker, and Members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament, the Presidents of the Member States of the Federal Government, and the international stakeholders involved in Somali affairs (specifically the US, UK, EU, UN, AU, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Qatar, Turkey, and the UAE), that should the enactment of a new constitution proceed without consensus, Puntland will neither comply with nor acknowledge any changes to the national constitution that are unilaterally implemented.

The Puntland government expresses its gratitude to the Somali people, the international community, and all contributors to the Somali government's endeavors.


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