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“Puntland, Somaliland Are Regional Governments” Abdillahi Yusuf
ADDIS ABABA, 24 Feb 2007 – A Somali delegation led by interim President Abdillahi Yusuf arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday, reported the official Ethiopian News Agency.
President Yusuf told ENA in the Ethiopian capital that he came to participate in the upcoming Sana’a Cooperation Forum heads of state summit, which is slated to open on Monday.
According to ENA, the Somali president said he’s hopeful that the Forum – composed of Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – would provide greater political and social support for Yusuf’s transitional federal government and the Somali people as whole.
The Somali government arrived in Mogadishu late last year after Ethiopian troops helped it dislodge an Islamic movement from power. The Somali capital has been unstable ever since, with hundreds of families fleeing the worsening violence blamed on Islamist insurgents.
Before arriving in Ethiopia, President Yusuf was in London to receive his regular medical checkup and to hold talks with various British government officials, including International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.
The President also privately met with members of the Somali community at the Royal Garden Hotel on Friday, where he gave a long speech delving into many affairs.
On securing Mogadishu, Yusuf said his government was taking the correct steps to stop the rising violence in the capital. But he promised government troops would defend themselves from attackers, whether or not they hide behind civilian lines.
On reconciliation, the Somali president said his government would organize and host a national reconciliation conference between various Somali clans and sub-clans who were involved in bitter clan feuds over the past 16 years.
On anticipated African Union peacekeepers, the Somali leader explained their mission as one of training Somali security forces and protecting government assets. “They are not coming to fight the Somali people,” Yusuf said.
On federalism, President Yusuf said his government had named regional administrations while continuing to work with existing ones, such as Puntland.
“Puntland has a regional administration that falls under the jurisdiction of the Somali federal government,” Yusuf said, adding that he hoped Somaliland would play a similar role once negotiations begin.
However, the President pointed out that negotiations with Somaliland would commence only after the southern regions were stabilized.
Relatively stable Somaliland, composed of regions in the northwest, seceded from Somalia in 1991 but has yet to gain international recognition.
Government officials in Somaliland, including the president and an 82-seat parliament, were democratically elected by local voters.