Somalia PM quashes questions over Puntland presence at HLPF
ISTANBUL, Turkey-Federal Government of Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke has poured cold water on claims that Puntland was not in attendance at sixth Somali Compact High-Level Partnership Forum in the Turkish city of Istanbul, Garowe Online reports.
On Feb. 23, Somali political leaders including Federal Member State presidents attended plenary sessions focused on political, economic and development fronts in the East African country.
Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has switched schedule to a trip to the US where he will hold meetings with American diplomats and members in Puntland Diaspora Forum in Minneapolis and Buffalo.
In an interview with Somali channel, ‘Somali Cable TV’, Prime Minister Sharmarke rejected widely circulated information swirling over absence of Ali, saying government minister was present.
“At first, Puntland is not absent; it’s here in the conference. It is being represented by a minister, the President skipped for a justifiable reason that we have heeded,” said Somali Prime Minister when asked about Puntland.
Prime Minister Sharmarke acknowledged that the Somali Compact Forum looks into ways in which newly adopted electoral process of 4.5 could be implemented, denying that Istanbul forum seeks funds for the controversial model.
Puntland Labour Minister Abdirahman Sheikh Ahmed who is part of the Northeastern State’s delegation in Turkey appeared on Somali Cable, dodging whether Puntland is officially represented in the sixth High-Level Partnership Forum.
“As you know, Puntland President has not attended this conference. Two key sessions on gender and youth have compelled us to be in Istanbul,” he went on, adding that Istanbul forum coincided with another trip by the President to US.
Questioned on any objection to political agendas of Istanbul forum, he said: “Boycotting might have another meaning, but I do emphasize on your question surrounding why I am here, I came for youth matters”.
The murky exchange between the Prime Minister and the Puntland Minister follows a press statement from President Ali’s office.
Puntland President’s office gave vitriolic reaction in light of Istanbul forum, calling the High Level gathering ‘meaningless’ similar to Mogadishu and Kismayo forums.
“Puntland President Dr, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has also has snubbed Istanbul conference touching upon Somali affairs after deeming the conference confusing one that doesn’t serve the interest of Somali people,” read the statement reached by GO online.
The presidency said, of the two phases of Istanbul forum, Puntland will be represented in the plenary session of Business and Investment by Planning and Labour Ministries and Puntland New Deal head, Mohamed Hassan Barre.
Puntland and UN-backed national government have been at loggerheads on election proposal ushering in traditional 4.5 power sharing formula.