Mogadishu Foiling Federal System Plans, Says Puntland President

 

farole1Nairobi: The president of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region said the central government was undermining plans to create a federal system and that he would develop potential oil resources in his area even without a revenue-sharing deal with Mogadishu.

“Mogadishu has undermined the federal system,” said Abdirahman Mohamud Farole.

Farole’s remarks in a Reuters interview show the deep national divisions and the huge task facing the Mogadishu government as it seeks to unite the nation with devolved powers after two decades of war and clan rivalry.

Farole, 68, who spent four years in Australia in the 1990s and then secured the presidency of Puntland in northern Somalia in 2009.

“They want the highly centralised government of the (Mohamed) Siad Barre model, where Mogadishu is the centre,” he said late on Wednesday.

The president of Puntland, who has managed to create a semblance of order in its territory, said he would assert autonomy by exploiting oil resources believed to lie within its borders.

Farole said the current constitution forbids Mogadishu from awarding oil contracts to foreign firms across the nation while it is still negotiating how future oil revenues will be shared with the regions.

Oil companies that did strike a deal with Mogadishu and tried to work in Puntland would be prevented, he said. “We will physically stop them,” he said, without giving details.

However, Farole said Canadian explorer Africa Oil and Australian firm Range Resources would continue drilling for oil in Puntland during talks with Mogadishu, which he said could benefit from future proceeds.

“When we brought Africa Oil to Puntland, I publicly announced that this (oil) is not only for Puntland,” said Farole, one of the early advocates for a federal Somali state.

In a move diplomats said could help build devolved government, Mogadishu on Wednesday recognised a former rebel commander as the interim leader of the southern Jubaland region and reached a deal over administration of a lucrative port.

But Farole dismissed the deal, saying he saw little sign of Mogadishu giving ground to allow the regions more autonomy.