Officials in Somalia have condemned a violent confrontation between Puntland state security forces and militias allied to opposition groups that erupted on Tuesday in Garowe, the state’s capital. The clash, which broke out amid a local parliamentary debate over changes to the voting system, resulted in at least 26 deaths and 30 injuries.
Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre conveyed his condolences to the victims’ families and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. He stressed the need to settle disputes through dialogue and mutual understanding.
Lower House Speaker Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur Madobe and First Deputy Speaker Sadia Yasin Samatar also called for an immediate halt to the unrest in Garowe. Madobe emphasized that warfare is not a viable solution to political crises and appealed for Puntland’s residents to unite in the interest of peace and stability.
Samatar appealed to elders, business leaders, civil society members, and politicians to contribute to efforts aimed at restoring peace and stability in the region.
Former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo voiced his trust in the people of Puntland, expressing hope they would act swiftly to silence the gunfire, reestablish security, and fortify the government. He said, “The city of Garowe, a symbol of peace and security, should not be subject to conflicts that can be resolved through understanding and negotiation.”
Reports indicate the intense fighting began following accusations by opposition groups that Puntland’s leader, Said Abdullahi Deni, was seeking to manipulate the constitution to extend his term beyond January of the upcoming year or influence the electoral outcome in his favour.
Puntland’s state parliament began discussions on Tuesday regarding amendments to the constitution around the transformation of political organizations into official parties. A special committee designated to review the constitution presented its findings to the lawmakers. Following this, more than 34 Puntland state parliament members voted unanimously to proceed with the constitutional revision, with only one MP opposing.
The controversial proposed amendment aims to change the current provision that permits the top three vote-getting local council organizations to transition into political parties. The revision seeks to extend this privilege to the top five most-voted organizations.