Somalia: US lauds Puntland’s role in fight against terrorism
NAIROBI, Kenya – The US ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto has praised Puntland, the country’s oldest Federal Member State for its unwavering commitment to combat terrorism, Garowe Online reports.
The top American diplomat said the northeastern region makes a most important contribution to the international efforts to stabilize the Horn of Africa country beset by more than two decades of conflict.
Ambassador Yamamoto announced that the United States will assist Puntland state implement its long-running democratization process and prepare to move to “one person, one vote” election in 2023.
He made the pledge of the support during meeting with Puntland president, Said Abdullahi Deni, along with his Jubaland and Galmudug counterparts in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital on Friday.
President Deni thanked US for the continued help on the counterterrorism and training local forces battling Al-Shabab and ISIS-affiliated militant groups who poses threat to Somalia and beyond.
Puntland has since its foundation in 1998 held five polls. But regular people are yet to cast any ballots. The state has relied on a clan-based formula in which the lawmakers were selected by the clan elders, and then the legislators elect the president.
The United States said early this month that it is the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, providing more than $433million in 2017-2018.
In addition, Trump administration ramped up air strikes against the extremist groups. The shift has taken an unprecedented toll on Al-Shabab’s rank, leaving more than 500 fighters dead in the past two years.