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Puntland state crisis: Former finance minister among four politicians wanted

Thursday May 18, 2023

Puntland State Attorney General, Ahmed Taran. FILE PHOTO

Garowe (HOL) - Authorities in the Somali state of Puntland have ordered the arrest of four political figures, including former Finance Minister Hassan Shire Abgaal, over their alleged involvement in a violent clash in Garowe this week. The fatal incident left two army soldiers dead and has heightened existing political tensions in the region.

Abgaal, once a close ally of President Deni, was dismissed in mid-September during a cabinet reshuffle. Last week, the former finance minister publicly admonished Deni for supposed plans to delay the 2024 election. 

The other wanted individuals include Khadar Abdirahman Faroole, the Somali Presidential envoy overseeing economic affairs, and politicians Mohamud Shiddo and Mohamed Jama Farah (Laysar).

Despite this, Khadar Abdirahman Mohamed, Special Envoy for International Trade and Investment for the Somali President, issued a statement emphatically denying any involvement in the violent incident. His response comes in the wake of accusations by Puntland's Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdi Farah Juha, who charged Mohamed and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud with orchestrating the attack.

The warrants by the Puntland authorities echo a recent announcement by the Police Commander vowing to clamp down on anyone posing a threat to the imminent local council elections. However, these elections, set for May 25, 2023, have been mired in controversy, with accusations of election mismanagement and fraudulent practices directed towards the current Puntland President, Said Abdullahi Deni. These claims have led several key figures, including former Puntland Presidents Abdirahman Faroole and Abdiwali Gas, to boycott the election.

The unfolding crisis prompted Ahmed Isse Awad, former Somali Foreign Affairs Minister, to raise the alarm about the risk of a full-blown political crisis. Backing the stance of President Sheikh Mohamud, Awad warned of severe consequences if President Deni's administration does not adequately address the current electoral dispute. He underscored the necessity of peaceful conflict resolution, cautioning against the potential ramifications of settling matters through force.

In light of the escalating tension and violence, several airlines have suspended flights to Garowe following Monday's deadly clash between Puntland forces and tribal militias near the airport. This skirmish resulted in the deaths of three navy soldiers and about ten others injured.

With elections day nearing, the unfolding events have set Puntland on a precarious path, and its future stability hangs in the balance.


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