Hundreds of people staged demonstrations in Puntland's major cities Tuesday, a day after a group of Somali lawmakers accused Puntland government of targeting certain communities, Radio Garowe reports.
One protest in Puntland's commercial capital of Bossaso featured hundreds of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from southern regions of Somalia chanting pro-Puntland slogans.
Malaaq Abdi Osman Isaaq, a traditional elder from Rahaweyn clans of Bay and Bakool regions, told the protestors that the group of Transitional Federal Parliamentarians (TFP) "do not represent our communities."
On Monday, a group of Somali lawmakers hailing from Bay and Bakool regions held a press conference in Mogadishu whereby they claimed that Rahaweyn communities are killed and arrested in Puntland. READ: Somalia: 'Puntland peace for all Somalis': Security Minister
Continuing, the traditional elder said: "We have peace and opportunities in Puntland. We reject the so-called lawmakers' false claims of abuses against our people in Puntland."
Mr. Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, governor of Bari region where Bossaso is located, told local reporters at a gathering at Bari regional office that Rahaweyn and other southern communities "live free in Puntland."
In Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland State, a similar protest featured IDP communities and businesspeople from Bay and Bakool regions rejecting the TFP lawmakers' allegations against Puntland's government and people.
Mr. Ahmed Hassan, chairman of the IDP communities in Garowe, told the protestors that the communities "live with peace and respect in Puntland," while dismissing the lawmakers' "false claims."
Nugal Governor Abdi Hersi Qarjab told the protestors that "those lawmakers are the warlords who forced out the IDPs in Puntland from their homes in Bay and Bakool regions."
Governor Qarjab's comment was in reference to Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade, formerly notorious warlord of Baidoa who later became a Somali MP, along with other former warlords from Somalia's multitude of clans.
Since the 1990s, Puntland has enjoyed relative stability with its own state government, security forces and policies. The region, located in northeastern Somalia, supports a federal system in Somalia and hosts over 400,000 IDP communities who fled the chronic violence and instability in southern Somalia.