Somali officials banned from Puntland

2011-01-24 10:13

Mogadishu - Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region has barred central government officials from entering its territory, an official said, as a row between Puntland and the capital Mogadishu escalated.

Puntland officials said the ban extended to all lawmakers and civil servants, a week after declaring it would not co-operate with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) until the establishment of what it described as a legitimate and representative federal government.

"We have notified all our immigration departments and airports that TFG officials were banned from inside our territory," Puntland's deputy Interior Minister Ali Gab Yusuf told reporters over the weekend.

Somalia has been mired in conflict and awash with weapons since the downfall of a dictator 20 years ago. The Horn of Africa nation has become a haven for foreign jihadists bent on striking the region's main economies, security experts say.

Puntland accuses the United Nations-backed government of failing to honour the terms of the 2008-09 Djibouti peace process which created the TFG.

Under the terms of the accord, the interim government's mandate expires in August this year. By then it should have enacted a new basic law and held general elections. Most political analysts say it will probably fail to do either.

There was no immediate government reaction to the travel ban. Some legislators urged the Somali government and Puntland's administration to resolve the brewing dispute.

"Puntland is a part of Somalia and it has no right to make such an announcement," said lawmaker Abdirahman Ali, who was born and has family in Puntland.

But he added: "While Puntland's statement is unfortunate, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's government has failed to show the consideration and cooperation Puntland deserves."

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