Breakaway Puntland to remain Somali, President vows

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The self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia has a new president, Abdirahman Mohamed Faroole, 63, who was elected on 8 January by the region’s 66-member parliament.

An ally of the new president said Faroole would give priority to security and economic and social problems in the region.

“The new president will address the security situation in Puntland as a matter of urgency,” Abdishkur Mire Aden, a former deputy information minister in Puntland and close ally of Faroole’s, said.

He said the new president was also keen to address the economic and social problems facing the population.

Faroole, Puntland’s third president, is a former banker and Puntland finance minster. He is a member of the Isse Mahamud sub-clan of the dominant Majeerteen clan, and hails from Garowe.

The presidential contest had been expected to go into three rounds if no candidate garnered a two-thirds majority in the first and second rounds but it ended in the second round when Faroole got 49 out of 66 votes, said Ibrahim Muse Wadani, a journalist with the Bossaso-based Daljir Radio.

Gen Abdisamad Ali Shire was elected vice-president, Wadani said.

He said many people in Puntland viewed Faroole’s election “as a new beginning for Puntland”.

Puntland declared autonomy in 1998, following a conference of local elders. However, the new president has vowed that Puntland would remain part of Somalia, according to Aden.

In 2008, the region experienced a spate of kidnapping of foreign nationals, including journalists and aid workers, and increase in piracy. More than a dozen ships and their crew are being held off the Puntland coast.

The region has also become a hub and a departure point for people-smuggling into Yemen, which claims the lives of hundreds of Somalis.

“The president will make sure that Puntland is free from any criminal activity, including piracy, people-smuggling and kidnappings,” Aden said.

Wadani said those involved in the electoral process deserved praise “as the election process went very smoothly”.

The new president and vice-president were sworn in on 8 January, said Wadani.


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