An event marking the two-year anniversary since the election of H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole) was held on Saturday, January 8, 2011, at the Puntland Development and Research Center (PDRC) compound in Garowe, capital of Puntland State of Somalia.
The event was attended by 150 persons, including many Puntland government officials such as: Cabinet ministers, Parliamentarians, High Court judges, Prosecutor-General, and commanders of Puntland Darawish Force, Police Force and Intelligence Force. Furthermor, representatives from the International Community including U.N. officials and International NGOs, attended alongside Somali civil society, namely traditional elders, Islamic scholars, business community, women and youth groups, and journalists.
The three-hour event featured two videos, with one video about the state of education in Puntland and video portraying the major events of 2010 such as: the Islamic conference, the Women’s conference, and the Somali National Football Tournament, all of which were held in Garowe. Furthermore, there was a Power-Point presentation delivered by Hon. Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, Puntland’s State Minister for International Cooperation. The presentation was about the achievements of Puntland over the past two years, as well as the major challenges faced by the government and a brief detail of the government’s vision for the future. There was a memorable speech delivered by Dr Mohamed Dahir Afrah, a Somali intellectual and language expert based in Djibouti.
Finally, the President of Puntland delivered a 40-minute speech touching on many key topics. Below is a translated version of the President’s remarks:
Speech by His Excellency, Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), the President of Puntland:
On Dec. 20, 2010, the Puntland Council of Minister [Cabinet] formed Drought Committee which has since organized an assessment with humanitarian aid agencies to visit drought-affected areas [of Puntland]. They saw the suffering and devastation caused by the drought. Yesterday, our Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation issued a report stating that over 1million persons in Puntland have been directly affected by the drought. There is a severe lack of water and water is the basis of life. What we need is immediate international assistance to help those suffering the drought, as stated in the jointly declared drought appeal by the Puntland government and humanitarian aid agencies.
The government is playing an active role and is leading the aid effort. We need the people of Puntland to play their role. They should collect money, open banks, businesses should donate food, and there should be preparations for transportation. We all know there will be transportation business and no construction business if the drought continues.
U.S. Two-Track Policy
I want to welcome and to thank the U.S. Government for the Two-Track Policy which seeks to provide assistance to established authorities in Somalia [i.e. Puntland] while helping the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in Mogadishu. Puntland is ready to work in line with this Two-Track Policy. We welcome the U.S. efforts to assist Somalia restore national law and order. Our administration has effectively engaged U.S. policymakers about realities on the ground in Somalia and this U.S. policy shift on Somalia is part of changes the international community is making, including the European Union’s decision to open Strategic Dialogue with the Puntland Government. These very positive steps help advance development prospects in Puntland.
Democratization Process in Puntland
We are committed to the democratization process. The Election Commission Law has been passed and we are currently involved with forming the provisional Election Commission mandated by the Puntland Constitution. The democratization process requires massive resources and public awareness and we appeal for assistance in this historic endeavor. We want to establish a multi-party political system in Puntland but there must be security for this to happen.
We are Somalis who stand for Somalia. We are not using the Somali name to fight against Somalis. Historically, the Somalis of Puntland have played an active role in the liberation struggle. Although all Somalis played roles, history tells us that many of the liberation struggle heroes come from Puntland.
The TFG is expected to accomplish many things in coming short time of its mandate [which expires Aug. 2011].
Firstly, the TFG must respect the relations and cooperation between us in order for us [TFG and Puntland] to continue our cooperation. The TFG should give Puntland and other Somali regions fair share of all international donations given in the name of Somalia. They [TFG] control no place to implement development projects and investments in southern Somalia. This [Puntland] is the place to implement development projects and to make investments and where they [TFG leaders] can find safety. Even now, I see a few TFG lawmakers sitting here among us and they come here as Mogadishu violence gets worse. We welcome all TFG to come here [Puntland]. But they [TFG] must know that all international donations in the name of Somalia do not belong to them but to all Somalis.
Puntland Marine Force
The pirates caused us the biggest losses, in every way. Look at our culture: drugs, disease, alcohol, hundreds of dead or jailed or diseased or killed. They [pirates] have disrupted the productivity of our fishing community.
We [Puntland Government] have been begging the international community for two years, in every country and during every trip. We said ‘Please provide arms and logistics for a 600-strong Puntland Marine Task Force to fight this pirate enemy’. But we did not find any help. We gave up on their help. Using principles of the Istanbul Declaration which declared support public-private partnerships in Somalia, we aimed to improve our security and attract investments to create jobs in Puntland. But there was much jealousy when people saw a company training our security forces [Puntland Marine Force]. There was jealousy from all groups who are involved in piracy and who steal [resources] from our shores.
The media sometimes insinuates these jealousies because Somali-language foreign media [i.e. VOA Somali Service] is run by Somalis who are still deeply involved in civil war clan hostilities. We are telling the world: Puntland is ours, and we are free for it and we have full rights to pursue our interests and we shall pursue them. We are not violating any international resolutions. We want to clarify this. We did not bring any weapons [for the Puntland Marine Force]. We expect the weapons from the countries that are currently providing weapons to TFG [Transitional Federal Government of Somalia] to bring us our share of weapons and we are even willing to pay for those weapons.
International Mandate to Fight Pirates on Land
We appeal to the United Nations Security Council to help us eradicate piracy. Over 20 ships are currently being held for ransom [by pirates] and nearly 600 hostages. There are people who are involved in this crime as a business.
We call on the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution permitting international forces patrolling Somali coasts to cooperate with Puntland forces and attack pirates on land. We will help them [international forces] because those who profit from piracy as a business are against us training our marine forces [Puntland Marine Force].
These people bring millions of dollars cash to Somalia. Most recently they brought 9.5million USD to pirates and they have violated our sovereignty and air space by landing the ransom cash near Hobyo coast [in central Somalia], so why do we deny international forces to operate on land and target pirates? International forces are in Mogadishu [African Union force AMISOM] as well. Somalis are not capable of standing on their own today and they need international help.
There might be some troublemakers who throw bombs and bullets, but I assure you that our security is under full control of the Puntland government.
Pirates use Puntland because it’s the most strategic part of Somalia. During the Cold War era, the Soviet Union and the Western powers competed for control of this strategic part of Somalia. The tip of the Horn of Africa is where the pirates like to hunt because it’s the closest to vital international shipping lanes.
As you know, vehicles have difficulties reaching the shores of Puntland because of the mountains and lack of roads. However, over the past two weeks, our forces have been operating along the northern and eastern coasts of Puntland, from Ras Asayr to Beyla coastal town [along the Indian Ocean]. We did not announce this security operation because the pirates might flee.
Our forces have seized several vehicles and control over their area. As you know, if you throw a net looking for a lobster, you might find a sea-lion. We found a lion who was stealing the minds of children in Bargaal [coastal town along Gulf of Aden waterway] and he is a terrorist and he has been arrested [applause].
Warning to Parents
Our people are sleeping and they do not know that there are people who are trained, who are full of enmity and hatred and who want to steal our children’s minds and hide behind our Islamic religion. Such people are being sent everywhere including Puntland.
We warn our people to watch where they send their children and to be careful who they bring around and to be aware and vigilant. They should know the enemies who were sent to destroy their life and their development and their culture because security is always the foundation of progress and life.
We are committed to protecting the universal human rights of all residents in Puntland. There was some complaining last year about groups of young men who we sent back to their home regions in southern Somalia. The complainers said the young men were innocent. It is possible that some of those young men were seeking to be smuggled by human traffickers to Yemen and beyond. But we are confident that most of those young men were sent to Bossaso [Puntland’s commercial hub] to create instability, like they have done in Mogadishu. This is unacceptable and we shall continue to strengthen our security.
Furthermore, we shall nominate a Human Rights Defender very soon. The Human Rights Defender is a constitutional body and will help advance the cause of human rights in Puntland.
Somali Literature Revival
On Jan. 6, Halabuur was launched in Puntland by Dr. Mohamed Dahir Afrah, who is an intellectual and the father of Somali language. His work is dedicated to the advancing the Somali language, its literature, its idioms, and its history which was highly politicized during the Kacaan era [1969-1991] as some history was written and other history was completely ignored. But Dr. Afrah and his colleagues are writing all the history of Somalia. He is collecting lots of information. Praise Allah for [President of Djibouti] Ismail Omar Ghelle who has organized this Somali literature group and based them in Djibouti. I thank them all greatly for their work and dedication to save the Somali language and culture.
Clan Conflicts and Elders’ Role
Our population is mostly nomads and historically there have been armed clashes as people fight over grazing land and water wells. Governments have played a role always to prevent clan conflicts, but the traditional elders have played a key role especially the clan elders and the Issims who chair all traditional elders and have a constitutional role in Puntland. The Issims’ decision is equal to the ruling of a First Degree Court in Puntland.
Many people have died in clan conflicts and this has slowed down development because the government spends resources to prevent clan conflicts. We call on the traditional elders to host meetings and work to prevent conflicts.
You all know that there are many conflicts where the government has played a role. The conflict in Bari region and the conflict in Karkar region are now resolved. The Cagaaran conflict is nearly over. In Galkayo, the TFG and Puntland sent government delegations to Galkayo and a ceasefire was declared between the clans and we hope it’s resolved. We [Puntland Government] played a role to end the conflict between Buhodle and Burao clans.
The government pays salaries for 560 traditional elders every month. The government holds accountable its employees so we urge the Issims to hold accountable the traditional elders.
We are committed to upholding justice. We have three laws: Somali xeer, Somali customary law, and Islamic law. They all work together, but if they conflict, then Islamic law is superior. There are some aspects of Islamic law that is not applicable currenlty due to circumstances and this is among the major issues the Islamic scholars of the world are debating. For example, if some guy dying of hunger steals from a woman, should he get his hand cut off? Only two months of jail is enough punishment for him.
We need to create job opportunities and to find alternative energy methods in order for us to protect the environment. There is massive deforestation and land degradation due to charcoal and the cutting of trees. There is also the destruction of our maritime ecosystem by foreign trawlers who fish illegally in our territorial waters. The government does not have the resources and capacity to deal with these massive challenges but protecting our environment is a major issue and the government’s policy is clearly to protect the environment and our way of life.
Praise for Puntland Security Forces
I would like to thank all Puntland security forces who are protecting and defending us everyday. They have my special and sincerest thanks. I would also like to thank the Ministry workers and the Parliament. In recent weeks, the Puntland Parliament passed some very important legislation such as: the Election Commission Law, Anti-Terrorism Law, Anti-Piracy Law, Anti-Human Trafficking Law, and most recently passing the 2011 annual budget of Puntland.
I am happy for the working relationship between the various branches of government, the elders and the Islamic scholars. But I want to criticize the greedy business community [of Puntland] who did not participate in defending the state but their test is how they take contribute to helping the current drought.