Garowe, Puntland, Somalia –
The former President of Puntland, Abdiweli Ali Gaas, and former Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, expressed their support for direct elections in Puntland. They came to Garowe nine days ago to engage in negotiations aimed at promoting peace and stability in the region. Upon the completion of their visit, the statesmen presented a set of recommendations for Puntland, supporting the region’s democratic transformation.
The visit followed recent clashes between Puntland’s security forces and the Aran Jaan militia in Garowe, the capital of Puntland. The security forces successfully defended the local parliament, pushing the militia back and compelling their withdrawal from the city. In response to the incident, the Aran Jaan group began rallying traditional elders and politicians to support their cause, urging them to prevent any constitutional amendments that could reverse the ongoing democratisation process.
The former high-ranking officials clarified that their visit was intended to address the current impasse. While in Garowe, they said they met with Puntland’s President, Vice President, opposition leaders, clan elders, Puntland Non-State Actors Association (PUNSAA) representatives, and other high-ranking officials. They also travelled to the city of Qardho, where we met with King Burhan King Moses and local politicians.
Endorsing democratic elections
Upon concluding their visit, the former leaders of Somalia presented a set of recommendations to the State of Puntland in a letter addressed to Puntland’s President Said Abdullahi Deni.
In the letter, they uphold respect for the government of Puntland and encourage everyone to participate actively to maintain stability, security, and unity of the region. They call on politicians to preserve Puntland’s Democracy Program. In that regard, they encourage them to reach a consensus on the fifth annexe that enhances the democratic program while avoiding a return to the clan system.
Notably, they warn against initiating amendments or alterations to the Puntland Constitution.
Regarding the upcoming general elections scheduled for next year, the respected Somali leaders appealed to the officials to schedule the election for January 8, 2024, and establish an agreement for forming the Electoral Commission to ensure the timely execution of the elections.
Call to defend the Sool region
Last but not least, the former leaders in their letter also encouraged Puntland residents to contribute to the defence of the Sool region. In recent months, the Sool region has witnessed a series of deadly clashes, predominantly centred in the city of Las Anod. These clashes have involved confrontations between Somaliland forces and local fighters, who remain loyal to Mogadishu.