Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Garowe, Puntland

11 Nov 2023

Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Garowe, Puntland

(Edited for clarity)

Thank you so much, Excellency.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I'm delighted to be visiting Puntland. This is my second visit, following assuming office as the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

So it's a great pleasure this morning to meet with President Deni and members of his Cabinet. I want to thank the President for extending a very warm welcome to me. We've had some very open and frank discussions on three main issues: Puntland's elections, the relationship between Puntland and the rest of Somalia, and also the situation in Laascaanood.

And I'll be having discussions later today with opposition parties and civil society. So let me just say a word on each of these points.

So firstly, on Puntland's elections, I would like to commend Puntland for being an island of stability, for leading the way on democracy through the successful district level elections in May. But, I am conscious that there are some tensions, some different views amongst different stakeholders on the electoral model in Puntland and on the timetable. So what we've discussed is that – whilst the goal is very clear, a democratic process – I commend the President for reaching out to different groups, and encourage him to reach out not just to opposition leaders, elders and clan leaders, but also people who have a stake – the youth, the women and scholars and so on – to include them to ensure that when the elections take place that there's consensus and of course peaceful elections.

Secondly, on the relationship with the Federal Government and the rest of Somalia, it's been difficult because Puntland has not been able to participate in the National Consultative Council (NCC) process for some time. I was encouraged to hear the President [Said Abdullahi Deni] is continuing to be willing to engage with the President [Hassan Sheikh Mohamud] and eventually more widely thinking about the kind of issues that need to be on the table to ensure Puntland's views are represented.

And then, finally, on the difficult situation in Laascaanood, I would like to commend Puntland for reaching out and supporting the many IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] who came here from Sool region, up to 100,000. I know that's been a big responsibility and we thank Puntland for receiving those people warmly. Because the objective is for people to be able to go back, and for that, they need to feel sure that there will be security and stability.

So, just encouraging Puntland to play its part in encouraging both sides to resolve these differences peacefully to make sure there's no further escalation of violence, that there are confidence-building measures around the exchange of prisoners and so for Puntland to play its part through the influence it has, through the clan relationships to ensure a peaceful way forward.

So thank you very much, Mr. President, the United Nations is here to ultimately support the development and peaceful transformation of Puntland, such a wonderful place of opportunity. Hopefully, a peaceful election will enhance Puntland's reputation as an island of stability where investors can do business, and development prospects enable the people of Puntland to have a good future.

Thank you again, Excellency.