Somalia: Puntland can reach deals with foreign Countries, says president


DUBAI - The President of Somalia's northeastern Federal State of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali "Gaas" held a press conference in Dubai, UAE on Thursday, Garowe Online reports.

President Ali who is currently on a four-day official visit to the UAE said Puntland has rights to reach agreements with foreign countries and can issue licenses for investment in its natural resources.

"The article 54 of the Puntland constitution stipulates that the government of Puntland may enter into agreements with national and foreign companies," said Ali while speaking to foreign journalists in Dubai.

Puntland is a strategically located region, making its land one-third of Somalia. The Federal Member State is relatively calm compared to the rest of the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

- UAE playing a key role in Somalia -

The president has lauded the role of the United Arab Emirates in the development of Somalia, especially Puntland, where the Gulf country has implemented significant projects and trained its marine forces.

He noted that the UAE's firm investment is important for Somalia, as it creates job opportunities for thousands of unemployed citizens and is helping the nation's progress.

"Somalia shares historical relations with the United Arab Emirates which is also the largest trading partner of the country. The UAE welcomed thousands of Somalis and provided them with jobs," said Puntland president.

In Puntland, the Dubai-based P&O Ports has reached a 30-year concession agreement to develop and manage the port of Bosaso with Ali's administration in early 2017. The investment costs $336 million.

Bosaso, the commercial city of Puntland occupies the strategic area for marine transport in the Gulf of Aden at the southern approach to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

"Recently, the P&O Ports reached an agreement with Puntland, it is the largest investment in Puntland since the collapse of the state of 1991, this investment is crucial for the country's development, as creating jobs for the unemployed youths," he added.

Ali stated that Abu Dhabi has been a strategic partner of Puntland and helped in the fight against terrorism, piracy, illegal human trafficking, illicit fishing.

The UAE also assisted Puntland to establish its Maritime Police Force (PMPF) and trained and funded an estimated 2,000 naval soldiers protecting its coast from illegal activity. The force is also fighting the terrorist groups.

- Federalism and resources sharing in Somalia -

Somalia took federalism after the collapse of the former military regime in 1991. The country has now five Federal member states built under the current draft constitution except Puntland.

Puntland was established in 1998, becoming the oldest Federal Member State of Somalia created before the formation of the Federal government in 2004.

The regional states and the central government are yet to reach agreement on the natural resources sharing and have been in deadlock over the key issue in recent years due to the lack of constitutional reform.

"The idea of the Federalism was to establish state governments responsible for certain government functions while ensuring the Federal government that upholds nation's unity," said the president.

Ali announced that Puntland supports a federal government that upholds the constitution and also respects the rights of state governments in their areas of control.

"Somalia has collapsed in 1991 as result of the centralized power. Somalia is not Mogadishu and Mogadishu is not Somalia," he added.

Ali's visit to UAE comes amid soaring diplomatic tension between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates that began after Mogadishu took a neutral stance on the Gulf crises.

The UAE has announced it fully disbanded its training mission in Mogadishu 15th April, 2018in the protest of the seizure of $9.6m meant to Somali army from an Emirati civilian aircraft at Mogadishu airport on 8th April.


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