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After agreeing to cooperate on peace and security, Puntland and Gal-Mudug administrations have been conducting operations to implement the accord signed in Garowe, the seat of the Puntland administration, in February. Since the agreement was signed, Puntland and Gal-Mudug have cooperated on many fronts. Somalia Report’s Said Ismail takes a closer look at what has been achieved and how the agreement is shaping the lives of ordinary people in the region.
Criminals Handed Over Puntland authorities handed over six suspected criminals to Gal-Mudug on April 9th in a move many considered symbolic which will create room for more collaboration between the two semi-autonomous regions.
The six men were arrested by the Puntland Security forces on their way to Galkayo from Beyra district in Northern Galkayo at a road block set up by the Puntland security forces outside the city in an attempt to combat criminal activities in the city and nearby areas. Puntland Deputy Police Commissioner Muhyadin Ahmed, who spoke to Somalia Report in Garowe, said Puntland Security forces are operating in areas near the city of Galkayo and will continue making arrests of anyone suspected of any engaging in criminal acts.
The deputy commissioner also said Puntland is committed to fulfilling the agreement it has reached with Gal-Mudug state.
Gal-Mudug officials received the men in Galkayo during a ceremony organized by both sides. Officials applauded its neighboring Puntland for its commitment to the accord.
Fighting against Pirates
Since the agreement was signed, both sides intensified their fight against pirates, according to the deputy police commissioner of Puntland. “We have apprehended a number of pirates in Galkayo and in other towns in the region. Our neighbor state of Gal-Mudug is also doing all it can to eliminate piracy in the areas under their rule," he said.
The deputy police chief could not state the number of pirates behind bars in Puntland. Gal-Mudug official told Somalia Report that last month his administration detained 12 suspected pirates, who are under custody in Galkayo and will be taken to court.
In March, Puntland security forces launched a campaign to control liquor sales in the city of Galkayo, Aden Farah Osman, a police officer in the city, told Somalia Report. Police in the Puntland-controlled north of the city confiscated a large number of bottles of wine, whiskey and beer and arrested an unknown number of suspects for selling and consuming the beverages.
The police officer said the operation was part of ongoing efforts to tackle escalating insecurity in the town. Osman told Somalia Report that the city was struggling with a large number of drunkards who he said were destabilizing and terrorizing the city residents.
The officer called on the residents to inform police of anyone selling or consuming the illegal drinks and on other suspicious behavior.
A similar campaign was carried out in February in cities across Mudug and Nugal regions. About 1,000 bottles of liquor were destroyed and a local court sentenced several men up to two years in prison and a fine of $200 each.
Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol and Somalia has strict laws against alcohol sales and consumption. Many expatriates and locals rely heavily on a large black market for alcohol. It is often smuggled into Somalia from different regions; Bosaso is one of them main ports trafficking in the illegal drinks.
Pirates Hinder Civilian Movements
The ordinary people in the coastal towns of these two semi-autonomous states feel the direct effects of pirates. “It's these very same ordinary people that their daily lives, businesses and their children suffer the most,” said Mohamed Barkhadle, a resident in Gara'ad district.
"Our children are recruited into the pirate business. Life became harder due to the massive inflation pirates introduced in the area," he complained.
Pirates fight over the ransom every time a payment is made and killings among pirates is on the rise. Barkhadle said a pirate was killed over a dispute with the ransom from the MV Thor Nexus.
Barkhadle said that since Gal-Mudug and Puntland agreed to jointly fight piracy, the number of pirates has drastically decreased in the town of Gar'ad. "Some have got themselves hidden, others fled, but the security forces are not doing enough because they only detained few pirates. We expect them to do more," he said.
Meeting in Nairobi
Gal-Mudug and Puntland administrations both attended the UN sponsored consultative meeting held in Nairobi from 12th to 13th April 2011. Puntland President Farole and his counterpart of Gal-Mudug Mohamed Ahmed Allin met at the conference and discussed the rising insecurity and escalating political standoff in Somalia, the deteriorating security in Galkayo, tackling pirates, and improving ties between Puntland and Gal-Mudug.
Experts in the region say the relationship between the leaders of Puntland and Gal-Mudug is in the most stable stage, and this is expected only to get better.