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Somalia: Puntland and Galmadug begin new era of relations

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

GALKAYO, Puntland - Puntland has signed a cooperation security deal with Galmadug on Saturday in Galkayo, a border town between the two federal states, a move that comes amid escalating Al-Shabaab attacks, which have literally triggered tensions in the region.

Said Abdullahi Deni, the president of Puntland, inked the deal with his Galmadug counterpart Ahmed Abdi Kariye alias QoorQoor, who was in an official visit, just over four months after taking over from Ahmed Duale in Dhusamareb.

"Together with the President of Galmudug State, Ahmed Abdi Kaariye, we have planted a tree for peace in the city of Galkayo. We are striving to make this city a prosperous and peaceful city for its population," Deni tweeted.

Kariye, who won a controversial February election amid claims that Mogadishu had rigged elections in his favor, has been out to stamp his authority by restoring confidence in his administration, besides reaching out to other regional states.

In a joint statement issued on Saturday, the two federal states earmarked security as a major focal point for cooperation, adding that the deal would allow officials from both states to cooperate in enhancing security in the region.

Frequent summits, the statement read, would enable the two states to benchmark their setups and identify the areas for improvement. It was the first time the two leaders were meeting since taking office.

In recent months, Al-Shabaab militants have been encroaching the rather peaceful Puntland from Galmadug despite concerted effort to diminish their influence in the region. In fact, Galkayo has been turned into a battlefield between security forces and the Al-Qaida linked group.

Two months ago, the militants shot dead Nugal Governor Abdisalam Hassan Hersi in Garowe, the regional administrative capital of Puntland, before eliminating Mudug Governor Muse Nur in Galkayo, which has been turned to a hotspot of violence and impunity.

But despite the growing presence of Al-Shabaab in the region, joint operations have been waged by Somali National Army [SNA] with both Puntland and Galmadug regional forces, who have since managed to flush out the militants from the region.

Also undermining security in the region are unending inter-clan conflicts, which have contributed to a significant rise of deaths and Internally Displaced Persons [IDPs]. The two leaders discussed how to mitigate the situation before it blows out of proportion.

In 2017, the United Nations-brokered a deal between the two sides in which regional forces were deployed to Galkayo to help restore normalcy. Not much has been achieved since then, reports indicate.

But the conflicts along the border are also attributed to the territorial dispute with Puntland often maintaining that part of Mudug was hived off to form Galmadug, leading to persistent clashes which have left hundreds dead.

On his Twitter, QoorQoor said the ministerial delegation discussed "security, reconciliation, and economic development". Further, he added, "The meeting was successfully concluded and technical working groups have been assigned to further the areas of cooperations."

Similar sentiments were made by Said Abdullahi Deni, who has been advocating for peace and stability in Somalia. He thanked the Galmadug leader for visiting, adding that the cooperation will be implemented to the latter and spirit in the coming months.

"Pleasure to meet with President of Galmudug State, Ahmed Abdi, in Galkaio. We discussed in our common mutual interest including strengthening security and peace, reconciliation, economic development, and strengthening collaboration," he said.

The two leaders are now set to jointly attend a conference in Mogadishu which would deliberate on Somalia's future. Among others, regional leaders are pushing for timely elections and an "appropriate" model which is not discriminatory to all parties.

Operations against Al-Shabaab have also been intensified in the war-torn nation, with government troops managing to liberate a host of villages in central and southern Somalia in recent weeks. The group still remains a threat to the Horn of Africa nation.


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