Over 60 traditional elders from the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, are meeting in Garowe, the regional capital, to discuss whether to extend the mandate of the administration, a senior Puntland official told IRIN.
The elders’ conference, which opened on Wednesday, would discuss, among other things, the way forward for Puntland, and whether to extend the mandate of the administration, Isma’il Warsame, Chief of Cabinet to president said. The mandate of the current administration runs out on 30 June 2001, when presidential and parliamentary elections are expected to be held.
Puntland President Abdullahi Yusuf, who addressed the gathering, said that before elections were held, time was needed to conduct a referendum on a new constitution, and carry out a population census, according to Warsame. Abdullahi Yusuf did not elaborate on how much time was needed, but Warsame said he had previously proposed a two-year extension. Abdullahi Yusuf told the conference that it was up to them to extend the mandate or to elect new people to lead Puntland. The elders’ conference had no time limit, but was likely to last for at least a week, by which time they were expected to announce their decision, a local source told IRIN.