Somalia's Puntland refuses to recognise federal government after disputed constitutional changes

Monday April 01 2024

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses the media inside his office in Mogadishu, Somalia on February 21, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland says it has withdrawn from the country's federal system and will govern itself independently until constitutional amendments passed by the central government are approved in a nationwide referendum.

The federal parliament in Mogadishu on Saturday approved several constitutional changes that the government says are necessary to establish a stable political system.

Critics say the changes, which include introducing direct presidential elections and allowing the president to appoint a prime minister without parliamentary approval, concentrate power in the hands of the executive.

"Puntland will act independently until there is a federal government with a constitution that is agreed upon by a referendum in which Puntland takes part," the state's council of ministers said in a statement dated March 31.

The rift is another headache for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is struggling to end an al Qaeda-linked insurgency, put down a resurgence in piracy and assert federal authority over the breakaway region of Somaliland after it agreed to lease a port to Ethiopia.

Read: Constitutional review divides Somalia top leaders