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Puntland Withdraws Hajj following FGS weaponized the pilgrimage

Puntland minister of Justice and Religious Endowment

Garowe, (IDNE Newsdesk) Puntland has declared its withdrawal from Somalia’s Hajj pilgrimage due to concerns over alleged black market trading of pilgrimage slots and the Federal Government’s politicization of the pilgrimage process.

Puntland officials claim that only 700 pilgrim slots were allocated to their region this year, compared to 2000 allocated to Somaliland, another semi-autonomous state.

Puntland Ministry of Justice, Constitution, Religious Endowment, and Rehabilitation convened a meeting with Hajj and Umrah service companies and scholars from Puntland to discuss various issues. The meeting, chaired by the Minister of Justice, Constitution, Religious Endowment, and Rehabilitation, was attended by the Deputy Minister, Minister of State, Director General, heads of Hajj and Umrah companies, and scholars. The conference aimed to enhance Hajj and Umrah services for Puntland citizens, addressing the current challenges and offering practical solutions. Following discussions, the ministry issued a statement outlining measures to streamline the Hajj process for Puntland pilgrims and ensure compliance with national laws by Hajj companies. Additionally, a plea was made to refrain from politicizing Hajj and Umrah matters.

This move follows escalating tensions between Puntland and the Federal Government, exacerbated by the recent changes to Somalia’s provisional constitution, which many Somalis view as a constitutional crisis.

Somalia’s Minister of Endowment, Mukhtar Robow Ali, a former Emir of al-Shabaab, has been accused of bias toward Puntlanders, further straining relations.

On 30 March 2024, Puntland declared its independence from Mogadishu and asserted full autonomy, resembling the de facto state of Somaliland.