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The semi-autonomous state of Puntland has adopted a multi-party system after a referendum for the new constitution was finalised on April 18, 2012. More than 500 representatives from Puntland’s regions, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and civil society came together at the parliamentary building in Garowe to approve the new constitution.
The constitution was approved by representative elders from all regions of Puntland, the Diaspora and government representatives. The total number of voters was 478 with a majority of 98.7% voting in favour of the new constitution and 1.3% voting against it.
The Chairman of the Puntland Electoral Commission (PEC), Mr. Mohamed Hassan Barre, announced the final results of the referendum exercise which was conducted last week. He refered to the majority vote as another positive step forward for Puntland’s new era of democracy as well as free and fair elections.
Despite its preference by the majority, opposition leaders have expressed their displeasure regarding the additional year granted to the current president's administration in the new constitution. President Farole's mandate was expected to end on January 8th, 2013, but has been extended until 2014.
“The exercise was conducted calmly with various delegations participating including the European Union (EU) representative, neighbouring countries and the TFG. The result was positive and we believe this new constitution will create the opportunity for people to elect their own leaders in future,” Mr. Mohamed Hassan Barre told Somalia Report.
The president of Puntland, Abdirahman Farole, addressed the delegation and stated that Puntland had moved from “a tribal system to a multi-party system.”
The senate elected to approve the new constitution consisted of 480 representatives. However, two representatives expected from the disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag did not attend or take part in the voting process.
The newly approved constitution, made up of 141 articles, allows for a multi-party system, free and fair elections and is based on Islamic law. The voting exercise was not by secret ballot but hand-raising by present representatives.
This is the first approval process for a constitution for the 14 year old Puntland administration which is willing to fall under the wings of a federal government of Somalia.
According to sources, local leaders have recently been conducting meetings to prevent potential conflict due to suspension of elections after the approval of the long awaited constitution.