Somalia: Deni boycotts NCC meeting amid Puntland election standoff

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - With just a few hours to the divisive electoral exercise in Puntland, regional leader Said Abdullahi Deni skipped an all-important meeting in Mogadishu, the Somalia capital, which was convened by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, addressing contemporary and emerging issues in the country.

The National Consultative Council [NCC] brings together the federal leadership under the president, all regional leaders, and the Mayor of Mogadishu. The meeting offers insight into the progress the country has made and areas that needs clarification and, or actions.

At the meeting, Villa Somalia reports, the leaders focused on national unity, the ongoing preparations for the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab, debt relief, and actions on previous resolutions passed by the council. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud chaired the meeting, Villa Somalia said.

"President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud today presided over the National Consultative Council [NCC] meeting at The Villa Somalia," read the statement on Twitter. "The agenda focuses on enhancing national security, preparations for the second phase of the fight against terrorism, completing debt relief procedures, and implementing previously agreed-upon Council resolutions."

Some of the leaders present were Ahmed Kariye alias Qoorqoor [Galmadug], Ahmed Madobe [Jubaland], Ali Gudlawe Hussein [HirShabelle], and Abdiaziz Lafta-Gareen [Southwest]. But for the second time in a row, Said Abdullahi Deni missed the meeting, raising eyebrows from members of the public.

Early this year, Deni, in a letter addressed to the federal government, expressed Puntland's decision to "act an autonomous state" by cutting "ties" with the federal government over what he termed as a "lack of political goodwill to craft a constitution" which he insists will cure some "pending anomalies".

The regional leader also poked holes into the federal government's commitment to implement "previously agreed upon resolutions on sharing of national resources". According to him, the federal government has "refused to honour our previous deals, necessitating these actions".

But his decision has faced criticism from a number of stakeholders who accuse him of "dragging behind Somalia's state-building process" by "acting without consultations". Puntland will act independently until the grievances are addressed adequately, he said in a past statement.

The move comes against the backdrop of claims of term extension and controversial local polls in the northern state of Somalia, which are scheduled for tomorrow [Thursday]. So divisive have been the elections that the opposition has bolted out, accusing the ruling party; KAAH of "pre-rigging".

Members of the opposition insist that the decision to forcefully hold elections is geared towards Deni's plot to extend the term, an allegation he has never acknowledged or denied. The regional leader recently came under scathing criticism from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and PM Hamza Abdi who called for "urgent dialogue" to solve "outstanding differences".

Created in 1998, Puntland is the oldest and most stable state of Somalia but the recent wrangles and divisions could be the precursor to possible anarchy, analysts say. The Al-Shabaab militants rarely carry out attacks in Puntland due to the solid security systems established by the founders.

Deni is also under scrutiny for allegedly using the current local council election as a tool to extend his five-year mandate in office, which will expire in January next year. He run for Somalia president in Mat last year but lost to Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. He plans to contest again in 2026.

GAROWE ONLINE

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