Bosaso back to normal

Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, was reported to be calm and returning to normal on Thursday, a day after it had fallen without a fight to forces of Col Abdullahi Yusuf, a local journalist told IRIN.

Bosaso was captured on Wednesday from the forces of the recently elected president of Puntland, Jama Ali Jama, by those of the region's former leader, Abdullahi Yusuf. The journalist said the town was now quiet, with "businesses reopening". "It is almost as if nothing has happened. It is back to business as usual," he added.

Isma'il Warsame, Abdullahi Yusuf's chief of cabinet, told IRIN on Wednesday that "the president is busy today in meetings with people from all walks of life in Bosaso. He is talking about healing the wounds in a spirit of reconciliation." According Isma'il, Abdullahi's message is: "No revenge, let's work for the return of law and order in Puntland."

Isma'il said that after the consolidation of peace and stability in Puntland, Abdullahi would "move on to national reconciliation in Somalia". "We will talk to any entity in Somalia to establish an inclusive, federal government for Somalia," he said.

Meanwhile, the Puntland authorities of Abdullahi Yusuf are warning the staffs of UN agencies, EU and international NGOs "to stay away from Puntland of Somalia until further notice", according to an official circular made available to IRIN on Thursday. The document said the decision to issue the warning had been reached because "the decision to evacuate the staff of these organisations from Bosaso had neither been coordinated with nor communicated to the legitimate authorities of the State".

The circular also said "some of these organisations have been engaged in activities incompatible with their stated mission objectives".

Asked to comment on the warning, Sonya Green, the UN spokeswoman in Nairobi, told IRIN on Thursday: "We are seeking further clarifications from the authorities in Puntland and exploring implications. The UN is still present in the area through national staff."