Puntland withdraws recognition of the Somali Federal Government for passing constitutional amendments; Increased kidnapping reported in Addis Ababa; Drone attacks renewed in Amhara

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Situation in Somalia (per 2 April)

  • The government of the Puntland state of Somalia has withdrawn its recognition and confidence in the Federal Government Institutions of Somalia, following the passing of disputed constitutional amendments.
  • The Puntland government stated that it will exercise powers of an independent state, until a “mutually accepted Somali constitution that is subject to a public referendum” is in place.
  • The main reason cited for this decision is that the recent constitutional amendments are regarded as a breach of the federal pact that has historically united Somalia.
  • The key amendments that were unanimously adopted by 212 MPs from the House of the People and 42 Senators on Saturday included the decision that the President will be elected directly by the people, and the Prime Minister will be appointed and removed from office by the President. 
  • This means that the Prime Minister will be appointed without parliamentary approval.
  • The term in office for elected officials is increased from 4 to 5 years. 
  • Prior to the vote on the constitutional amendments, Puntland and several other regional governments protested. Some Somali officials stated that the adoption of the constitutional changes was rushed and not subject to democratic processes.
  • Puntland’s President Said Abdullahi Deni met with UN Special Representative to Somalia Catriona Laing on Sunday, discussing the political issues, as well as humanitarian aid and development.
  • Another constitutional amendment that was adopted lowered the age of majority from 18 to 15. 
  • This amendment poses risks to safety of children, as it “increas[es] the risk of child marriage and lowered juvenile justice standards – and possibly permit[s] certain forms of female genital mutilation,” stated Human Rights Watch. 
  • It is noted that the decision violates Somalia’s obligations to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as a person under the age of 18.

Situation in Ethiopia (per 2 April)

  • There is an increase in reports of kidnapping from Addis Ababa, with the kidnappers asking for high ransom amounts for release. The targets are reportedly anyone perceived as having money.
  • In addition, there is a reported increase of kidnappings for ransom from Ethiopia to Sudan and Libya.
  • Fighting between Fano militia and Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) took place last week in the area between Bahir Dar and Gondar. 
  • Fano militia moved into the southern part of Gondar on Friday and attacked a major ENDF garrison close to the airport. 
  • Fano militia also entered into Gondar and reportedly assassinated 5 officials from the Prosperity Party in Amhara, and injured several others. 
  • Drone attacks restarted in the Amhara region after a lull of several weeks. The drone attacks happened north of Gondar; three towns along the roads leading to western Tigray were bombed.
  • An Ethiopia-wide electricity outage disrupted power for hours on Thursday evening, due to an unspecified system failure. 
  • Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed invited all regional and federal opposition parties for a three-day meeting starting yesterday. Nine opposition parties have reportedly  declined to attend. It is unclear what will be discussed at the meeting.
  • The deadline for an IMF staff-level agreement, set by the official creditor committee of Ethiopia, has passed on 31 March with no news of an agreement. The creditors warned in December 2023 that if the deadline was not reached, Ethiopia’s suspension of debt payments could be nullified.

Situation in Sudan (per 2 April)

  • Only immediate action can avert a catastrophic hunger crisis in Sudan, with widespread death and total collapse of livelihoods, states the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
  • “The population of Khartoum and Gezira States, Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, is at risk of reaching the worst levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition during the upcoming lean season starting from April – May 2024,” warns the IPC.
  • The Nuba Mountains region in Sudan remains isolated, with no electricity and no commodities, as it is almost completely shut off from access.
  • An Iranian-made Quds-2 cruise missile has landed on Sudanese territory. 
  • It appears that the missile was launched from Yemen and directed at ships on the Red Sea, landing in Sudan by accident.

Situation in Tigray (per 2 April)

  • Several clashes were reported in Raya between Tigray forces and Fano militia last week. 
  • Phase 1 of the RELIGHT Project (Restoring Religious Heritage in Eastern Tigrai) has started, aiming to repair and conserve sacred objects in selected Tigray churches.

Situation in South Sudan (per 2 April)

  • At least 12 people were killed and 15 children are missing after armed youths from the Murle ethnic group attacked the Ajwara village in Pibor’s Pochalla counyt, South Sudan,  on Sunday. 
  • The attackers are suspected to have kidnapped the children.
  • Around 1,000 people per day continue to flee the war in Sudan crossing to South Sudan every day. The refugees arrive in overcrowded centres where food and water are scarce and healthcare is limited.

International Situation (per 2 April)

  • The United States’s 10-year executive order declaring a national emergency in South Sudan has been extended for one year.
  • France has invited Deputy Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mussa Al-Koni, to the humanitarian conference in Paris on 15 April.
  • NGOs have launched an urgent appeal over the arrests, arbitrary detentions, pushbacks, and refoulements of Sudanese refugees in Egypt. They are calling on the international community to act.

Links of interest

Somalia: Puntland pulls recognition of federal government
Statement by the Puntland Government
Puntland President Meets with UN Representative, Discusses Cutting Ties with Federal Government Somalia: Constitutional Proposals Put Children at Risk
Electricity restored across Ethiopia after 5-hour outage
Major Ethiopian political parties reportedly declined meeting with PM Abiy
Prof. D’Andrea on X
IPC alert Sudan
Iranian Quds-2 cruise missile lands in Sudan
At least 12 killed, 15 children missing in South Sudan attack
Crisis at border of South Sudan and Sudan escalating as about 1,000 people arrive daily even after nearly one year of war
US extends order declaring national emergency on South Sudan
France invites Libya to humanitarian conference for Sudan
Urgent Appeal on the Detention and Refoulement of Sudanese Refugees in Egypt

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