Somalia: Deni skips consultative meeting in Baidoa
BAIDOA, Somalia - Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni is not among the top leaders meeting in Baidoa, the interim administrative capital of Southwest as Somalia leaders meet to dissect issues affecting the country and progress made so far in relation to cooperation between the federal government and member states.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is leading the meeting which is apparently the fifth since he took over leadership from Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed better known as Farmajo in June 2022. Hassan Sheikh has previously emphasized the need to chat about the common agenda for Somalia.
Also present include Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, Mogadishu Mayor Yusuf Hussein Jimale, President of Hirshabelle Ali Gudlawe Hussein, and President of Galmudug Ahmed Abdi Kariye QoorQoor. At the same time, Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe is in attendance at the talks.
But the outgoing Puntland leader Said Abdullahi Deni boycotted the meeting amid accusations that he is working on his term extension, a move that political associations in his Federal State warned its negative consequences. Deni whose term is expiring in 10 months conducted a controversial voter registation for local election that sparked electoral stalmate in Puntland.
Deni was an opponent of the previous government led by Farmajo, and he is now at loggerheads with the new government, which is led by Hassan Sheikh who competed against him the May 14 election last year.
Early this year, Deni's office released a statement announcing that Puntland is "now acting as an independent government," accusing the federal government of trying to return to a centralized federal government. The statement was widely condemned by the opposition.
At Mogadishu during National Consultative Council [NCC] meeting, Deni refused to sign the communique noting that he was not impressed with some pointed agreed between the federal government and other four member states.
Among the issues, the meeting is set to dwell on include the fight against Al-Shabaab, the cooperation between states and the federal government in the election and face jointly challenges in the country.
Somalia is at war with Al-Shabaab for 16 years but an operation launched about seven months ago has inflicted huge losses to the group besides losing crucial and strategic towns in the country. Hundreds of Al-Shabaab militants have been killed within the same period.
The meeting will focus on the second phase of the operation which will now focus on areas that have not been covered.
The US Africa Command, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and local militia have been assisting the Somali National Army [SNA] in eliminating the militants.