Crisis as Somali PM’s Office Halts Showcasing of Contested Constitution

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MUQDISHO, Somalia - The Somali Prime Minister’s Office announced on Friday a delay in the anticipated “National Consultative Council (NCC)” meeting originally scheduled for April 20, 2024. The meeting, aimed at showcasing federal unity over the contentious new constitution, was postponed due to technical reasons, the office stated.

This announcement followed a recent report by Garowe Online revealing plans by state leaders to issue a joint statement opposing the new constitution. The constitution, which has been ratified up to its fourth chapter by the Somali Parliament, has faced significant opposition from Puntland, while leaders from other states have remained silent on the matter.

The primary controversy revolves around provisions that would grant the federal government control over gubernatorial elections in state regions during the last two years of President Hassan Sheikh’s term. This issue is particularly sensitive for the state presidents of South West and Jubaland, who are seeking re-election.

Jubaland and South West, in contrast to other regional states such as Hirshabelle and Galmudug, have generally maintained electoral independence from federal intervention, primarily due to foreign troop presence in their capitals. Jubaland’s president, Ahmed Madobe, whose term is nearing its end, intends to eliminate a constitutional clause that limits the presidency to two terms. Similarly, South West’s president, Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen, confined largely to the city of Baidoa, plans to seek re-election against formidable opponents backed by federal powers.

Political and security conflicts in states like Hirshabelle and Galmudug have also contributed to the challenges leading to the postponement of the Muqdisho meeting. Hirshabelle, with its capital in Jowhar, has experienced a breakaway by the Hiran region, while parts of Galmudug remain under Al-Shabaab control.

Sources close to the President’s Office suggest that the delay was also due to President Hassan Sheikh’s reluctance to accept a term extension demand by state leaders, which could pose a risk to his political agenda as the 2026 election approaches. Meanwhile, the decision to postpone the meeting reinforces Puntland’s opposition to the constitutional changes, insisting that the NCC should not dictate Somalia’s future.

GAROWE ONLINE

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