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Puntland president criticized for ineffective leadership
by Yusuf Ali, managing editor
GAROWE, Somalia Jan 11 2008 - The leader of Somalia's northern sub-state of Puntland, Gen. Mohamud "Adde" Muse, is under fire for rising insecurity in a region renowned for its relative stability, with some politicians calling for his resignation.
A political debate, facilitated by Yusuf Garad, editor of the BBC's Somali Service, went on the air Friday between Puntland government officials, opposition leaders and the public-at-large.
The invited guests included Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole," a former Puntland finance minister; Ali Abdi Awaare, adviser to President Muse; Nuridin Adan Dirie, formerly head of Puntland's Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA); and Jama Salad, a member of the Puntland parliament.
The debate was centered around security issues in Puntland. The region's peace image has been tarnished in recent months by a crime wave that includes a recent spate of kidnappings and pirate attacks.
Mr. Farole stated that the Muse government has failed its duty the people, which is to "guarantee personal, financial and property security."
He indicated that an ineffective administration is one of the major reasons for the rising insecurity, adding that the people are fed up with "injustice, corruption and illegal agreements" to explore the region's natural resources potential.
"The security forces are unpaid and the people's loss of confidence led them to do whatever they want," Mr. Farole said, referring to clan militias who aided suspected kidnappers when Puntland police raided a home in the port city of Bossaso yesterday.
But Mr. Awaare, the presidential adviser, said the Muse administration has embarked on development initiatives in the region, citing the construction of an international airport in Bossaso.
"No one opposes the Puntland government, except few troublemakers and others with political motivation," Mr. Awaare said, explaining the reason for growing insecurity.
He said that a Bossaso meeting on Friday ended with all parties, including clan elders, businesspeople and intellectuals, agreeing to support the Puntland government in its crackdown on criminals.
Mr. Dirie, former head of HADMA, said he believes the underlying cause of the insecurity is the people's loss of confidence in the current administration.
"The undeniable source of these problems is the huge damage inflicted upon the people's confidence in the Puntland government," Mr. Dirie said, adding: "A big shakeup has hit the founding pillars of Puntland, which was founded on democracy, consultation and the rule of law.”
MP Jama Salad dismissed Mr. Awaare's claim that the ongoing criminal acts are politically motivated.
"I don't think there are politicians running for president who are responsible for the insecurity, but I believe there is exists bad governance on the administration's side," MP Jama said.
Such charges have been repeatedly voiced by members of the Muse administration, including presidential adviser Awaare.
But Mr. Awaare skidded around a question regarding the role of the controversial exploration agenda the Puntland leader has pursued since 2005, when he assumed the reigns of power.
Mr. Farole, who ran for Puntland president in 2005, indicated that President Muse's focus on exploration is a major cause for insecurity, adding that he can give direct advice to Muse, since he helped Muse win the Puntland presidency by having Farole supporters in parliament vote for him during the 2005 presidential elections.
"Adde Muse has focused on exploration only and this is the source of insecurity," Mr. Farole said, while underscoring that the deal Muse signed with foreign companies to explore Puntland is "illegal."
He stated that his resignation from the Puntland government in early 2006 is rooted in disagreements with Muse over "illegal" exploration deals.
"It is right to take advantage of Somalia's resources, but the route he [President Muse] chose is absolutely wrong," Mr. Farole said. "Natural resources belong to the whole country and the country has a federal government."
Exploration for natural resources is a hot-button issue in Somalia. In October, former Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi resigned after a months-long feud with transitional federal President Abdullahi Yusuf, with Gedi saying their disagreement was rooted in exploration contracts.
Many observers have linked Gedi's resignation to his consistent opposition to Gen. Muse's exploration deal with foreign companies, with the former Somali Prime Minister arguing that only the federal government has such authority.
Mr. Farole called on the people of Puntland not to rebel and to help the government capture criminals, saying: "The solution is for the people to stop protecting every man who commits a crime against the land, especially kidnappers and pirates."
But he also had tough words for President Muse and other members of the administration.
"If the government cannot fulfill its duties, the government must reach a decision and return the responsibility it was given back to the people."
Source: Garowe Online