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Puntland's president denounces federal government's priorities in Las Anod crisis

Friday April 28, 2023



Garowe (HOL) - President of Puntland regional state, Said Abdullahi Deni, accused the federal government of Somalia of neglecting its responsibilities amid the ongoing conflict in Las Anod.

Deni argued that the government has failed in its duties as a Somali government. As blood is shed, the federal government prioritizes talks with Somaliland and the appointment of a representative. Last month, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appointed Abdikarim Hussein Guled as the Special Presidential Envoy for Somaliland Talks, a decision opposed by Puntland but welcomed by Somaliland.

Deni criticized the appointment, stating that while violence escalates, the federal government wastes time and resources. He emphasized that Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) are not part of Somaliland and cannot be controlled by force. Deni added that appointing an envoy is futile and won't improve the situation. He confirmed that Puntland supports the SSC's position and is willing to defend its cause if the conflict continues.

In December, the Puntland regional government accused Somaliland of deliberately killing civilian protesters in Las Anod, urging human rights organizations to monitor the situation closely. The protests were a response to Somaliland's failure to address the killings of local intellectuals.

Somaliland's government has repeatedly accused Puntland of sending troops to Las Anod to fight alongside SSC-Khatuma forces, which Puntland denied. Escalating tensions between the two sides resumed after Somaliland forces took control of the Bo'ame district in the Sool region from Puntland on October 31.

A delegation of traditional elders from Mogadishu arrived in Hargeisa on Tuesday to mediate talks between the Somaliland government and the traditional elders of the SCC-Khatumo faction in Las Anod. The group is expected to meet with Somaliland leaders, including President Muse Bihi, to discuss ending the three-month conflict that has resulted in over 100 deaths and 600 injuries, impacting numerous civilians.

Last week, Amnesty International reported that Somaliland security forces indiscriminately shelled the town, damaging hospitals, schools, and mosques. Humanitarian organizations estimate that between 154,000 and 200,000 people have been displaced to nearby towns and villages, with some crossing the border into Ethiopia. They urgently need humanitarian aid, with women, children, and the elderly being the most affected.

The SSC region's town of Las Anod has been a regional flashpoint for decades. Somaliland took control of the territory from Somalia's autonomous region of Puntland in 2007 and moved Sool's regional administration into Las Anod.


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