25 January 2013

Somalia: Garissa Mayor and Jubaland Committee Chief Visiting Puntland

Garowe — A high-profile delegation consisting of officials from Kenya and the Jubaland regions of southern Somalia is on a visit to Puntland since last week, Garowe Online reports.

The delegation includes Mr. Ismail Mohamed Garad, mayor of Garissa, a provincial town in neighboring Kenya, and Sheikh Khalif Guure Ali, chairman of Jubaland organizing committee.

The delegation arrived at Abdullahi Yusuf International Airport in Galkayo on Jan. 20 and was warmly received by Puntland officials including Galkayo Mayor Said Abdi Farah and local residents.

On Jan. 23, Puntland Vice President Gen. Abdisamad Ali Shire received the delegation at the State House in Garowe, followed by a joint press conference held at the State House by Puntland Information Minister Mohamud Aideed Dirir, Garissa Mayor Garaad and Jubaland organizing committee chief, Sheikh Khalif.

Later that evening, a welcoming event was held at Puntland State University conference hall in Garowe and attended by Puntland officials, intellectuals, Islamic clergy, community elders, and activist groups.

The event featured poetry and speeches, with particular focus on establishing closer ties between the communities in Garissa, Puntland, and Jubaland.

Puntland poet Abdullahi Awad Muse "Owdgaleh" read poetry, inspiring the audience to preserve the peace and unity of the Somali people.

Garissa Mayor Garaad told the crowd that he is happy to visit Puntland and remarked that the majority of ethnic Somalis in Kenya share kinship ties with fellow Somalis in Puntland, Jubaland and Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.

"I welcome establishing Garissa and Garowe as sister cities," declared the mayor, to the crowd's applause.

Jubaland organizing committee chairman, Sheikh Khalif, described to the audience the steps of the process to establish Jubaland. He stated that Jubaland communities agreed to establish a shared administration, and noted that IGAD regional bloc supported the process.

Jubaland state compromises Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions, in southern Somalia and a Jubaland convention is expected to open soon in the strategic port city of Kismayo.

"Today we have come to visit our brothers in Puntland, to meet each other and to learn from Puntland's own experiences, as we build a new state called Jubaland," said Sheikh Khalif.

Puntland Women and Family Affairs Minister Ms. Halimo Hassan Haji thanked the delegation for visiting Puntland, saying: "The Puntland people are prepared with political, financial and brotherly support to help local communities establish Jubaland."

Puntland Information Minister Mohamud Aideed Dirir told the crowd that the people and government of Puntland played an important role to help Somalia recover from decades of political turmoil to end the transitional period in 2012.

He noted that, as Somalia rebuilds its nation-hood, the country needs "a new capital worthy of being a federal capital shared by all Somalis."

Minister Aideed said: "The Somali people will decide together on a new capital. Today's Mogadishu is not home to all Somalis. If Mogadishu has emerged from its 22-year coma, it is now time to address the atrocities of 1991 and the issue of looted public and private properties, which are still being occupied by force to this day in Mogadishu and other southern towns."

On Friday, the visiting delegation arrived by road in the port city of Bossaso, where they are expected to meet Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole.

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