| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Fighting erupts in Somalia’s Puntland as voting changes debated, four witnesses report

According to four witnesses, heavy fighting erupted on Tuesday in Garowe, the capital of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland territory, while the local parliament debated reforms to the voting system.

The Puntland administration announced on Facebook that the regional parliament had voted in favor of exploring constitutional revisions, and that more debates and votes will take place.

“Fighting broke out immediately after the Puntland parliament approved a one-man-one-vote election with multiple political parties.” The politicians are still in the house, and the town is being rocked by a heavy exchange of fire. Farah Osman, a local elder, described the struggle as “very fierce.”

“Garowe is full of opposing forces. All roads are closed, all business closed,” Osman said.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach local or federal officials for comment.

The clashes broke out after opposition groups accused Puntland’s leader, Said Abdullahi Deni, of seeking constitutional changes that would extend his term in office beyond January next year, or help tip the ballot in his favor.

“Anti-aircraft guns and machine guns are raining down around Garowe today. Government forces and other troops and clan militias loyal to opposition politicians are fighting over politics. I closed my shop and ran home,” said shopkeeper Abdullahi Omar.

  • Reuters