Garowe(Mogadishu24)-Puntland State President Said Abdullahi Deni announced on Monday that he is ready to meet President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss and resolve the disputed issues between the federal government and the state government.

The United Nations representative in Somalia, Ms. Catriona Laing, who visited Garowe this week, reiterated her commitment to Somalia’s ongoing peacebuilding and state-building efforts.

She discussed the relationship between the Federal Member States (FMS) and the Federal Government, the crisis in Laascaanood, and elections in Puntland with President Deni.

Ms. Catriona stated that she was encouraged to hear from President Deni that he is ready to talk with President Hassan Sheikh.

“I was encouraged to hear that the President [Deni] is continuing to be willing to engage with the President [Hassan Sheikh Mohamud] and eventually more widely thinking about the kind of issues that need to be on the table to ensure Puntland’s views are represented,” said Ms. Catriona Laing, UN Special Representative.

On elections, Ms. Laing encouraged the President to expand this outreach to all opinion leaders, including elders, clan leaders, youth, and women in the decision-making processes.

“Ms. Laing encouraged President Deni not just to engage with opposition leaders, elders, and clan leaders but also with people who have a stake – the youth, the women, and scholars – to ensure that when the elections take place, there’s consensus and, of course, peaceful elections,” read the UN statement.

She reiterated the United Nations’ commitment to work with the government and people of Puntland towards peaceful parliamentary and presidential elections recognized by all stakeholders.

The UN Special Representative also discussed the issues of Las’Anod and commended the Puntland State government for extending support to internally displaced people.

“Firstly, to commend Puntland for reaching out and supporting the many IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] who came here from Sool region, up to 100,000. I know that’s been a big responsibility and we thank Puntland for receiving those people warmly,” Ms. Laing added.

She further stated that she had discussions with the concerned parties on peace-building efforts, immediate ceasefire, and dialogue.

“My team and I have had numerous engagements with all key stakeholders, including President Bihi, President Deni of Puntland, elders, the Dhulbahante leaders, and the newly formed Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) Committee,” she said.

She added, “Our key messages to all parties are to push for an immediate exchange of detainees, a commitment to no further violence and to the start of dialogue.”

Puntland State leaders have refused to participate in several meetings between the federal government and its member states aimed at promoting peace and stability in the country.

In May this year, members of the National Consultative Council (NCC) – with the exception of Puntland – issued a communique and a new agreement focused on democratization, which contained the establishment of only two political parties in the country and transition from a parliamentary system to a democratic one, allowing citizens to elect their leaders.

In October, President Deni stated that the National Consultative Council is not a constitutionally established body mandated to make decisions on emerging issues within the country. He accused the federal government of being an obstacle to the completion of the constitution.

Earlier this month, Somalia’s Minister of Interior, Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, announced that Puntland State will not be forced to accept the agreement reached on May 27 by the National Consultative Council.

Puntland State is preparing for its presidential and parliamentary elections on January 8, 2024. This election holds huge importance as the state tries to hold its first-ever democratic elections under the “one person, one vote” approach.

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