Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Somalia, Puntland End Dispute

Somalia, Puntland end dispute

Tuesday, August 30 2011 at 00:00
Monitor Correspondent
Mogadishu, SOMALIA

Somalia and Puntland have seemingly resolved their differences after Transitional Federal Government President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed made a surprise visit to the semi-autonomous state Sunday.

Puntland, which unlike Somaliland does not seek to secede, had in January this year cut ties with Somalia’s transitional government over what is said were policy differences. “The TFG and Puntland State will closely cooperate for the benefit of the Somali people,” said President Ahmed after hours of closed-door talks with Puntland leaders including President Abdurahman Sheikh Mohamed Farole.

President Ahmed told a news conference that the two regions would no longer squabble over national issues and would now work closely together. The Somali President, who was warmly received by the public and officials, said two meetings brokered by the UN to thrash out any differences were planned.

“The first phase of the meeting will be held in Mogadishu,” he said, adding that security in the Somali capital had improved since the fundamentalist al-Shabaab movement vacated its positions in early August. He said the next meeting would be held in Garowe, Puntland’s capital, settling a months-long agreement over where to hold such talks.

It was President Ahmed’s first visit to Puntland since he was elected head of state in 2009.
The Sunday talks in Garowe were catalysed by Somalia’s prime minister, Prof. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Dr Augustine Phillip Mahiga, the seasoned diplomat from Tanzania who is the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to Somalia.

President Farole stressed that Puntland remains part and parcel of the Transitional Federal Government. “Puntland is a solid constituent of the TFG and will continue supporting the unity of Somalia,” he said. Puntland state’s government was formed in 1998 to offer services to people in the region after civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991.

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