On first Garowe visit, new UN Special Representative hails recent ‘one person, one vote’ district elections in Puntland

10 Jun 2023

On first Garowe visit, new UN Special Representative hails recent ‘one person, one vote’ district elections in Puntland

Garowe – Continuing her visits to the country’s Federal Member States, the recently-appointed top United Nations official for Somalia today visited Puntland where she met its leadership and hailed recent elections there.

“Today we’ve been discussing a number of topics, the most important of which was the very successful local elections held here in 30 districts on the 25th of May – I extended my congratulations as this is a major step forward in Puntland’s march towards democracy, and it also showcases a way forward for other parts of Somalia,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing.

“I hope the remaining three districts can complete their local elections, including here in Garowe,” she added.

The UN Special Representative made the remarks in a joint media encounter with Puntland’s President Said Abdullahi Deni, whom she had met earlier for discussions on a range of issues, along with members of his cabinet and advisors.

Asides from the elections, their exchange also covered Puntland’s recent humanitarian activities and federal affairs.

More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee nearby Laascaanood and the wider Sool region due to fighting – many of the displaced people have sought refuge in Puntland’s capital, Garowe, and other parts of the Federal Member State.

“I thanked the president and his team for extending their support to those displaced,” Ms. Laing said. “And I noted his request for the UN and international partners to do more to support the serious humanitarian situation.”

On federal affairs, the UN Special Representative and President Deni discussed Somalia’s ongoing peacebuilding and state-building efforts.

“I was very pleased to hear the president’s very clear commitment to dialogue, [and] playing his part in the journey as we create and complete the Constitutional Review Process,” Ms. Laing said. “And I extended the full support and good offices of the UN to try and help find a way forward as soon as possible because, with a solid state across Somalia, we’ll be able to focus also on the crucial issues of economic development and job creation for youth – things that will enable Somalia to play a rightful part in the region as a prosperous and stable Somalia.”

While in Garowe, the UN Special Representative also met UN staff based there and was briefed on the range of support they provide to partners in Puntland.

Ms. Laing’s visit to Puntland was her second to a Federal Member State in the six days since her arrival in Mogadishu on Monday. Soon after her arrival, she met with the country’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre. On Thursday she visited, Jowhar, the capital of the Federal Member State of Hirshabelle, where she met its President Hussein Ali Gudlawe.

Ms. Laing was appointed to her position in May this year and arrived in Somalia earlier this week. In addition to serving in various roles in the government of the United Kingdom, Ms. Laing also served with the UN’s development arm from 1993 to 1994.