The administration in Somalia's stable region of Puntland has issued a strongly-worded press statement announcing a new policy with the country's weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG), while urging the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) to "reconsider" its overall Somalia policy, Radio Garowe reports.
On Sunday, Puntland's Council of Ministers held an extraordinary meeting at the State House in Garowe, the capital of Puntland.
The meeting, which was chaired by Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole," discussed a review of relations between Puntland and the TFG and concluded with the administration holding a press conference, according to government officials.
|Daud Mohamed Omar, Puntland Planning and International Cooperation Minister|
Mr. Daud Mohamed Omar, Puntland's Planning and International Cooperation Minister, read the press release in the presence of six Cabinet members, including Environment Minister Mr. Abdigani Yusuf Adde, Public Works Minister Mr. Dahir Khalif, Family Affairs Minister Ms. Asha Ghelle, Deputy Interior Minister Mr. Ali Gaab and State Minister for Good Governance, Mr. Mohamed Farah Gashan.
Minister Daud answered three reporters' questions after the press release. Answering one question, he stated that Puntland's press conference is in response to TFG President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's "interference" with a donor meeting in Djibouti, whereby Puntland was invited.
"We believe that [President] Sharif's interference is due to the lack of confidence for his own administration, following Puntland's success at the Istanbul Conference [of May 2010] because he is worried about Puntland'
s role and influence at the donor conference in Djibouti," Puntland's Planning and International Cooperation Minister Daud told reporters.
Puntland cites complaints
According the press statement, the Puntland government complained about its exclusion from the 2008-2009 Djibouti Peace Process.
Furthermore, the Puntland press statement cited other complaints including the TFG leaders' "unwillingness to actively support federalism for Somalia in violation of the TFG Charter."
Puntland condemned the TFG's "lack of progress" on key matters, including security, reconciliation and the establishment of federal states.
The TFG was accused of involvement in "creating anti-government armed militias aiming to destabilize peaceful regions of Somalia."
The press statement declared support for the U.S. dual-track policy for Somalia and welcomed the efforts of African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM), which guards TFG installations in Mogadishu.
The statement declared that "Puntland shall not cooperate with the TFG until a legitimate and representative Federal Government is established and agreed upon by the legitimate stakeholders in Somalia."
Furthermore, Puntland's statement said that "the TFG does not represent Puntland in international forums," while urging UNPOS to "reconsider its position and support for the TFG at the expense of other Somali stakeholders."
Peace conference in Puntland
The statement strongly opposed any term extension for the current TFG, which came to power in Jan. 2009 at the conclusion of the Djibouti Peace Process. Since then, Al Shabaab insurgents gained control over most regions south of Puntland, including many districts of Mogadishu.
In recent weeks, reports surfaced that the new TFG Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "Farmajo" traveled to New York for the UN General Assembly meeting to appeal for international support in extending the TFG mandate by an additional three years.
But the Puntland government, which is the biggest domestic backer of the TFG, rejected any such possibility, stating that Puntland "asserts its firm opposition to any term-extension for the TFG under all conditions."
The statement concluded with an appeal to all Somalis to come to Puntland for a "broad-based Somali National Reconciliation Conference."
Last month, Puntland organized and hosted the national football tournament to be held inside Somalia for the first time in 23 years. Some 15 teams representing 18 administrative regions of pre-1991 Somalia competed, with the team from Mogadishu winning the championship.
Located in northeast Somalia, Puntland considers itself a supporter of federal Somalia. Over the past two years, TFG-Puntland relations have been strained due to the TFG leaders' unclear position on federalism for Somalia.
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