Somalia: UN report slams Puntland leader for currency printing, weak counter-terrorism policy
GAROWE, Puntland- United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has blamed the President of Puntland Government, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” for destabilizing the economy by printing new currencies and weak measures to eradicate insurgencies in Puntland, Garowe Online reports.
The UN investigators attributed the violent demonstrations in early May 2016 in Garowe and Bosaso to the soaring commodity prices prompted by printing of new money using a printing machine located in the State Bank of Puntland in Bosaso to cover the salary arrears of civil servants and the security forces.
The UN monitors obtained new counterfeit notes at exchange market in Bossaso city in Puntland, despite last Somali Shilling were printed before the collapse of the central government in 1990.
“The total amount of new Somali Shilling currency in circulation is assumed to be relatively low. However, as demonstrated by the demonstrations in May 2016, relatively small quantities of new can still upset the market, causing inflation and commodity price rises hitting the region’s most vulnerable populations the hardest. Unregulated currency printing further threatens to undermine federal level negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement currency reform in Somalia,” said the UN report dated, October 31, 2016.
Puntland President and Finance Minister both have denied the allegation, whereas the Chairman of Puntland Bank, Abdi Ismail “Boos” declined to respond to UN request to access the Bank in Bossaso city.
Although the UN Group acknowledged the need for currency reform to stabilize the Somali economy, it has expressed concerns on unregulated currency printing in Puntland that might lead to large-scale financial misappropriation, especially during the phase in which the old currency is exchanged for new genuine notes.
-Catch and release policy’
The 8-member panel of UN investigators further highlighted the potent threat continue to be posed by the Islamist insurgency “Al Shabaab” to peace and stability in Somalia.
However, the panel uncovered evidence indicating Puntland authority is still implementing “catch-and-release” policy, where detained suspects are set free, despite credible evidence of ties to Al Shabaab militant group.
“The group obtained copies of release orders for seven Al Shabaab suspects and convicts dated between June 2015 and 16 April 2016, signed by various senior Puntland officials,” read the UN report. “According to Puntland officials, the Al Shabaab convicts had been freed after legitimate court processes and the suspects had been released either owing to a lack of evidence or on account of an amnesty announced by the Puntland President, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” in August 2015.”
This will further deteriorate the relative stability in Puntland region, strengthen militants presence in Puntland region, which will become a save destination for exodus of fighters fleeing offensive from Somali troops and allied AMISOM forces in central and southern Somalia.
The Shabaab group "represents the most immediate threat to peace and security in Somalia and continues to be a destabilizing force in the broader East and Horn of Africa region," they added in the report.
It is noteworthy that the UN group has revealed in its previous report dated 2014 that Puntland administration employ systematic policy of arresting suspected Al Shabaab members only to be released, and in some cases an overwhelming evidence indicated credible links to Al Shabaab.
Read: The full UN report