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Puntland President sworn in

UN Integrated Regional Information Network, 5 July 2001

The President and vice-president of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, took the oath of office on Wednesday, a senior Puntland official told IRIN. President Abdullahi Yusuf and Vice-President Muhammad Hashi were sworn in for a three-year term of office, Isma’il Warsame, chief of cabinet of the Puntland president said.

Abdullahi Yusuf, whose mandate expired on 30 June, obtained the extension of his mandate from clan representatives and the Puntland House of Representatives on 27 June. The extension was, however, challenged by opposition figures and aspiring presidential candidates, who accused the administration of manipulating the vote. Jama Ali Jama, a prominent presidential candidate, told IRIN on 27 June that the extension decision was a farce made by illegitimate individuals.

Puntland Chief Justice Yusuf Haji Nur, who on 1 July issued a decree claiming to be the legitimate authority in Puntland as of 1 July, told IRIN on Wednesday that he had started the process of calling a general congress of all Puntland regions to be held on 30 July. Yusuf said he had sent invitations to all regional governors and traditional elders to select and name their representatives to the congress.

Isma’il Warsame, however, dismissed talk of a general congress being organised. The government had issued a decree last week banning all unauthorised meetings, he said. We don’t anticipate such a meeting, and we will not allow it, Warsame said. Local sources told IRIN that commanders of the Puntland security forces had reportedly came out in support of the extension of the mandate, thus making it virtually impossible for the chief justice to challenge Abdullahi Yusuf.