Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, the Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), announced Puntland’s exclusion from participating in the electoral system that the National Consultative Council (NCC, or GWQ in Somali) agreed upon in May 2023. Puntland has declared earlier that it will not be part of the system, as it considers it to be violating the constitution and the political power distribution in the country.
Minister Fiqi stated that the federal government acknowledges Puntland’s decision not to partake in the election system that the FGS adopted. He said the system will be implemented in four other federal member states and the Banadir region. “The four federal member states and the Banadir region have united in this election. We hope that Puntland will join us in the near future if God wills,” stated Minister Fiqi.
The Minister further emphasised that Puntland’s refusal will not hinder the implementation of the agreed-upon electoral system. He reiterated that after five years if Puntland expresses willingness to participate in the elections, they will welcome them.
Analysts have repeatedly criticised the NCC’s conduct and its failed forums. Critics, including former Somali leaders, blame Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for his inability to effectively address crucial national issues such as unity, power-sharing, constitutional reform, and regional governance, including the role of Puntland and Somaliland. President Hassan Sheikh maintains that the country should have two national parties and proposes eliminating the position of the Prime Minister in favour of a Vice President.
Puntland has declared that it will not be part of the electoral system the NCC agreed on. It considers it to be in violation of the constitution and the political power distribution of the country.
Puntland’s President, Said Abdullahi Deni, recently addressed the issue in the Puntland House of Representatives. He was highly critical of the NCC, especially the idea of limiting the political space to only two political parties. Deni labelled the NCC’s May meeting unconstitutional and dangerous to the existing power-sharing agreements.
However, analysts argue that this represents more than a governance dispute. Puntland views it as sidelining its autonomy and federal responsibilities.
The NCC’s proposed electoral model can potentially exacerbate national divisions and even ignite a civil war. It is improbable that a nation emerging from a civil war could support a system with two competing parties vying for the highest office. Moreover, it’s crucial to note that the electoral model has not received ratification from both chambers of Parliament, rendering it legally invalid.
By refusing to participate in what it deems unconstitutional, Puntland is signalling its robust stand on legality and federal principles.