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Somalia's Puntland cuts ties with central government

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Somalia's northeastern Puntland region said Monday it had cut all relations with the central government in Mogadishu, raising the prospect of further fractures to the already war-torn nation.

In an official statement, Puntland accused the internationally-backed government in the capital Mogadishu of undermining the federal constitution and of ignoring "national reconciliation" efforts.

It also accused Mogadishu of rejecting the fair "sharing of power, resources and foreign aid" among Somalia's multiple regions.

"Puntland government hereby suspends all cooperation and relations with (the) Federal Government of Somalia," an official statement read.

Relations would only be restored if Mogadishu "restores and adheres to the country's genuine provisional federal constitution", as well as consults over security issues and ensures a fair distribution of international aid across Somalia, it added.

There was no immediate response from Mogadishu.

Semi-autonomous Puntland, which forms the very tip of the Horn of Africa along the Indian Ocean coast and the Gulf of Aden, has recognised the government in Mogadishu but runs its own affairs in the region.

Central government, backed by a 17,700-strong African Union force, is struggling to impose its rule over regions following the pushing out of Islamist Shebab fighters from parts of southern Somalia.

Puntland is only one of several Somali regions to oppose central control, from the breakaway republic of Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden, to statelets such as Jubaland in the far south, where rival warlords claim control.

While relatively stable compared to southern Somalia, Puntland also hosts pirate gangs on its coastline as well as multiple militia forces, while the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab operate in its rugged Golis mountains.

Puntland's leaders first declared it an autnomous state in 1998, seven years after the collapse of Siad Barre's regime in Mogadishu touched off a cycle of civil unrest which has yet to end.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130805/somalias-puntland-cuts-ties-central-government