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Jubaland and Puntland presidents meet with foreign diplomats in Nairobi

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - United States envoy to Somalia Donald Yamamoto on Wednesday held separate meetings with Puntland and Jubaland leaders, stressing the need for an "improved relationship with Mogadishu.

Presidents Said Deni [Puntland] and Ahmed Madobe [Jubaland], have been at loggerheads with the federal government in recent times.

Last week, the two leaders met at Bosaso, the commercial city of Puntland, where they resolved among others, to defend state governments from "Mogadishu interference".

Equitable distribution of resources especially oil featured in the talks, with the two states also rejecting the controversial petroleum law, local media said.

Puntland President also held a fruitful meeting with the French ambassador to Somalia & Kenya Aline Kuster and discussed the current situation in Puntland State and the significant cooperation among Puntland/Federal Members States and Federal Government of Somalia.

"Hounoured to meet with Puntland President Said Deni today. An interesting exchange of views on the situation in Puntland. The importance of dialogue to reach a consensual approach between federal and state levels as a top priority for stability and development in Somalia was raised," Kuster said in her Twitter handle. 

US concern about Jubaland

Yamamoto, US embassy said, discussed with Madobe strategies to defeat Al-Shabaab militants, who have caused menace in Somalia.

Also, strengthening federal government relationships with states was widely discussed in Nairobi as the US steps up to ease tensions.

The US embassy said: "Amb Yamamoto and Jubaland State leader Ahmed Madobe agreed to advance the fight against al-Shabaab."

"Strengthening FGS-FMS relations, and the importance of all Somalis working together to advance security, peace, and prosperity in the region," it stated.

Ahmed Madobe has struggled to relate with President Mohamed Farmajo, with reconciliation meetings often ending in deadlock.

Last year, the former Ras Kamboni Brigade commander accused Farmajo of "working with Ethiopian non-AMISOM troops to overthrow me."

Also, a section of former leaders led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was temporarily blocked from attending Madobe's inauguration at Kismayo.

Puntland quest for fair distribution of resources

For Deni, he has been leading onslaught against the federal government, often questioning criteria used to pass petroleum law.

The law, which Puntland has rejected, gives Mogadishu administration powers to control the extraction and exportation of the commodity.

And Ambassador Yamamoto promised to lead "urgent" dialogue with the states and federal government when he met Deni.

Further, the embassy said, the two leaders discussed matters security and impending polls in Somalia besides engaging on matters development.

"They discussed U.S. support for Puntland Security Forces, the importance of inclusive national elections," read the US embassy tweet.

It further said, "they discussed advancing development in the region and an urgent need for cooperation & dialogue between FMS and FGS."

The fragile relationship between FGS and FMS

The frosty relationship between the federal government and Federal Member states has technically impeded development and fight against Al-Shabaab, the US had noted.

President Farmajo has often been subjected to immense criticism by opposition leaders who accuse him of "perpetuating impunity and lawlessness".

Last year, Farmajo accused state leaders of "working with foreign countries to plot my ouster. This is completely unnecessary."

Farmajo is fighting to be re-elected in December. Opposition leaders also claim that he's keen to impose regional leaders to save his political career.

Somalia's anticipated polls

Somalia is expected to hold polls in December when the tenure for the current administration ends. Preparations are underway.

National Independent Elections Commission has vowed to "oversee free, credible and transparent polls".

However, there is a standoff on the model to be used, with the US pushing for the winner-takes-all model, which has never been used in decades.

Since the assassination of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has struggled to install a popular administration.


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