Quick Explainer: Can Somalia “Constitutionally” Split the Mudug Region Between Two States?

There remains a fundamental question whether Somalia’s Mudug region can be split between two administrations.

On one hand, Article 49 of the provisional constitution states Federal Member States (FMS) must be based from two or more (ostensibly whole) regions merging. On the other hand, Puntland’s regional constitution defines its borders as to include certain parts of Mudug region.

Though this would “unconstitutionally” split Mudug region, Article 142 of the provisional constitution states that Puntland’s constitution will retain rights and powers as defined in its regional constitution until it is harmonized with its federal counterpart.

This reading could back Puntland’s claim that its current constitutional borders in Mudug are legally sound. Since there is no constitutional court, a technical resolution to this matter is currently not possible — driving the need for a political solution for the time being.

The Mudug question, mired in constitutional ambiguity and contradiction, may be considered by the Boundaries and Federations Commission (BFC). The BFC, which will propose FMS boundaries to be approved by parliament, may make an exception for Mudug region to be split between Puntland and Central State. This could anger other political actors that seek similar accommodations in other areas of the country.

It is also possible that Puntland may continue to not recognize the BFC because it was not consulted on its composition, which would mean that boundary disputes could only feasibly be addressed by political negotiations.

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