Puntland chooses independence, declining to recognize Somalia

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Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, announced its withdrawal from the federal, opting for independent governance until a nationwide referendum approval of constitutional amendments proposed by the central government. These amendments, endorsed by the federal parliament in Mogadishu on Saturday aim to lay the groundwork for a stable political framework, according to government authorities.

In a statement, the council of ministers in Puntland declared: “The Puntland administration has withdrawn its acknowledgment and trust in federal government institutions until a comprehensive constitutional process that is mutually agreed upon is achieved.”

Detractors argue that the modifications, such as the implementation of direct presidential elections and granting the president authority to appoint a prime minister sans parliamentary consent, centralize power within the executive branch.

In a statement, the council of ministers in Puntland asserted, “Puntland will assert its autonomy until a federal government is established, complete with a constitution ratified through a referendum in which Puntland actively participates.”

The division poses yet another challenge for President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who grapples with quelling an al Qaeda-affiliated insurgency, suppressing a resurgence in piracy, and asserting federal control over Somaliland, particularly following its agreement to lease a port to Ethiopia.

After decades of conflict, Somalia still contends with a violent insurgency led by al-Shabab militants, highly divisive political wranglings, natural calamities, notably a severe drought exacerbating hunger for millions.

The discord with Puntland compounds the challenges faced by President Mohamud, who is concurrently tackling a resurgence in piracy and striving to assert federal dominance over the autonomous region of Somaliland, particularly following its latest Memorandum of Understanding with Ethiopia.

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