GOOBJOOG NEWS|BAIDOA: The third National Consultative Council conference is expected to open today in Baidoa following the arrival of leaders from the Federal Government and the Federal Member States in the South West capital.
Only Puntland President Abdullahi Deni is not attending the meeting following his declaration in January that he was no longer party to the talks. Deni said his administration will only engage with the Federal Government and not through the NCC.
Top on the agenda will be the Constitutional Revie process, the ongoing campaign against terrorist groups and the transition plan ahead of the anticipated pull-out of African Union troops by April next year.
On the review process, the leaders are expected to recommit to complete the process which has been ongoing for slightly over a decade now. During the last conference in December, the leaders singled out the judiciary and power sharing between the two levels of government as the most contentious issues to be addressed.
They agreed to form an inter-governmental technical committee to provide clear directions on how these two issues can be dealt with during the review process. Parliament also formed the Joint Parliamentary Constitution Review Committee last week whose role is to oversee the review process.
The NCC will also be deliberating on the progress of the ongoing campaign against Al-Shabaab. This comes amid low-profile operations in recent weeks, especially in the central regions. Jubaland opened its battle front against Al-Shabaab in January while another front was expected to be opened in South West state.
Related to this will be the Transition Plan which envisages the handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to Somali Security Forces. The ATMIS transition period will lapse in April next year in line with the two-year mandate by the UN Security Council. Somalia has since sought delayed withdrawals of the ATMIS forces citing a lack of capacity to fully take over some forward operating bases (FOBs).
President Mohamud will also be briefing the FMS leaders on his agreement with Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia for the deployment of extra troops outside the ATMIS framework. The leaders under the Somali Front-Line State summit in Mogadishu in January agreed that both Kenya and Ethiopia will send in more troops to complement the Somali forces in the ongoing offensives.
Other issues which might come up include a review of the Petroleum Act which some FMS especially Puntland rejected on account that it did not have its input and that the Revenue Sharing Agreement was skewed in disfavour of regions which do not produce oil.