At a ceremony marking its first year in Puntland, the United Nations mission in Somalia today pledged its continued support as the country looks ahead to beginning the process of federalism aimed at building a stronger, more united Somalia.
In Garowe, the State Capital of Puntland, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Nicholas Kay said Puntland had made “important political, economic and security progress in the last year for which the Government and people deserve full credit.”
Mr. Kay, who is also the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, said however, that more remained to be done, including establishing a federal system of governance, working together with the Federal Government and other emerging states on reviewing the provisional Constitution, and preparing for elections in 2016.
According to media reports, Puntland, which declared autonomy in 1998, has cut ties with Somalia's central government after it learned of a plan to form a new federal state that would allegedly include parts of the Puntland region.
Mr. Kay said it was essential for all parties to cooperate including the State of Puntland, interim and emerging national administrations, and the Somali Federal Government. All of Somalia could learn and benefit from Puntland's experience and achievements since 1998, he added.
“I am convinced that the formation of other federal member states within Somalia is in the interest of Puntland and all Somalia. Puntland should not lose any territory that it currently administers. Final boundaries will be determined according to the process prescribed in the Provisional Federal Constitution.”
He pledged that international support for peace and state building in Puntland will continue to be guided by the principles of Somali ownership, leadership and respect for the Constitution.
Established by the United Nations Security Council on 3 June 2013, UNISOM increased the scope of its activities in the country as an African-Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM) and local forces pushed Islamist Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu, Somali's capital.
The Mission is mandated to support the Federal Government of Somalia with its peace and state building agenda and to strengthen Somalia's security sector, promote respect for human rights and women's empowerment and assist in the coordination of international assistance.
During last week's landmark visit to Somalia, members of the Security Council said they expected that the Federal Government would urgently establish a national independent electoral commission, lead a process to revise the constitution and hold elections in 2016. They also underlined the importance of Somali women being represented at all levels of the political process.
Somalia's government institutions emerged in 2012 at the close of a transitional phase toward setting up a permanent, democratically-elected Government. Since then, Somalia's political map of 18 regions is being redrawn into a lesser number of federal member states. The country descended into two decades of war and anarchy after the ouster of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, as sectarian and religious factions tore the country apart.