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UN special rep in Garowe amid constitutional crisis; constitution amendments commended by international partners.

Monday April 1, 2024

UN Special Rep Catriona Laing and President Deni address the press together, discussing Somalia's constitutional crisis and the path to consensus-driven progress. - Source: Puntland Admin

MOGADISHU (HOL) — Somalia's international partners have commended the nation's strides in finalizing its Constitution, urging stakeholders to intensify their push for a consensus-driven, inclusive process. The appeal comes amid escalating tensions following the Somali Parliament's recent approval of pivotal constitutional amendments. The legislative changes have triggered a sharp fallout with Puntland State, propelling the UN's Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to Garowe to address the burgeoning constitutional crisis.

The constitutional revisions, approved by Somalia's bicameral Parliament, have stirred significant debate and controversy, particularly concerning the nation's federal structure and regional autonomy. Puntland's subsequent decision to withdraw recognition from the Federal Government underscores the deep divisions and the urgency for a diplomatic resolution.

Somalia's international partners urged lawmakers to ensure that the country meets its international and regional human rights obligations, including children's rights. 

During her visit to Garowe, Laing engaged with local leaders, including President Deni, discussing crucial national and regional issues. "I've seen the statement the government of Puntland has put out, and I clearly note their concerns on some substantive elements and also around the process." She expressed optimism about President Deni's commitment to dialogue and inclusivity but emphasized the critical nature of the situation, "The future of Somalia is at stake," she stated.

Puntland's stance, backed by specific constitutional provisions, signals a profound distrust in the Federal Government's recent unilateral actions, which are viewed as favouring certain interests and threatening the federal structure established since the Transitional Federal Constitution. 

The Parliament's decision to amend the first four chapters of the country's provisional Constitution came after intense debates, marking a watershed moment in Somalia's protracted political evolution. The Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission played a key role in this process, with the final vote revealing a strong majority favouring the change.

At the heart of the conflict is the revised power structure between the President and the Prime Minister and the introduction of a multi-party system. The changes aim to streamline governance but have raised concerns over centralization and undermining federal state autonomy. The constitutional overhaul, intended to modernize the nation's governance and protect rights such as those against female genital mutilation, has inadvertently deepened political divisions.


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