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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
'I will make a deal with the Devil' for exploration: Puntland leader

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti June 15 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland State government has said that he will pursue all roads to achieve a successful oil exploration program, and has suggested that he will even sign "a deal with the Devil."

Gen. Adde Muse, the Puntland leader, told the BBC Somali Service during a Sunday interview that mounting a successful exploration program is linked to creating a stable security situation on the ground.

Gen. Adde Muse, Puntland leader
"We have found out that without security, there can be no success," President Muse said, while admitting for the first time that Puntland is undergoing "one year and a half of insecurity."

Describing the situation in Puntland, President Muse said that some of the people are "on the brink of starvation" and the government's security forces have "no salary."

He said that piracy has only worsened the situation, but added that the regional administration is taking steps to combat crime and piracy, saying: "We have destroyed places they [pirates] live and arrested others…as many as 15 men, some of them are commanders."

The Puntland leader said pirates had "bought more weapons and high-speed boats" with ransom payments collected in recent months. But President Muse expressed optimism in his security forces: "We are fully confident that we can stop them [pirates]."

On oil exploration, President Muse said that "preliminary work has already begun" at some locations, and that the local government plans to explore up to 15 sites by the end of the year.

He indicated that "300 containers" carrying exploration equipment are docked at the Port of Djibouti and are en route to Puntland.

"Those who thought it was a dream…Today we are going to start work at three, four locations," the Puntland leader said.

In criticism of unnamed opponents of his ambitious exploration project, President Muse contradicted his prior admission about insecurity in Puntland, saying: "Many people oppose us…who spread lies about insecurity here [in Puntland]."

But Gen. Muse's most memorable remark during the interview came in response to unnamed critics: "They criticize us for making deals with 'thug companies'…forget thugs, I will make a deal with the Devil to explore my land. My people across Somalia are poor. We can fight poverty as a unified front who work together."

On Puntland elections, President Muse dismissed widespread rumors that he is seeking a one-year term extension.

"On January 8 [2009], there will be a [presidential] election," he said firmly, adding: "If I extend my term, I will bring many problems to my people."

Source: Garowe Online

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