President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” of Puntland and President Abdikarim Hussein Guled of Galmudug state met in Gaalkacyo yesterday to re-commit to a ceasefire in the disputed city under the leadership of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke of the Federal Government of Somalia.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) in Somalia, Michael Keating, led a delegation of international partners that included the European Union Ambassador to Somalia Veronique Lorenzo, General Gebre of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, and the Deputy Special Representative of the African Union Commission Chairperson, Lydia Wanyoto.
Fighting in and around Gaalkacyo has resulted in at least 45 deaths in the last six weeks. An estimated 90,000 people have been displaced by fighting. The agreement signed on 2 December 2015 which included a ceasefire and measures to deescalate the conflict was not implemented. The renewed commitment made in Abu Dhabi on 1 November to a ceasefire, to support the return of displaced people and establish a committee to find a solution to the conflict has not been honoured.
The purpose of yesterday’s meeting was to reaffirm the regional leaders’ commitment to a ceasefire, discuss immediate arrangements as to how it can be implemented including the immediate establishment of a ceasefire monitoring committee, and agree on a process for resolving the issues that are propelling the conflict. Participants agreed to meet soon in Kismaayo to review progress on the ceasefire and make practical arrangements for moving forward on a lasting solution to the conflict. All parties recognize the critical role that traditional elders, business leaders and civil society representatives must play in Galkaackyo, and the need to support their role to address problems and achieve peace.
“This was a very significant meeting,” said SRSG Keating. “The UN and international partners will support an agreement and practical arrangements to stop the fighting immediately, ensure sustained dialogue and help local communities as well as Puntland and Galmudug to resolve their differences, and further its swift implementation. Extremists and other rejectionists have an interest in undermining peace. This must not be allowed to happen. The personal commitment of the two state presidents is encouraging, but must be accompanied by full realization of the agreements. Violations of the agreement are unacceptable, and indeed those responsible will be held accountable.”