Former Australian resident Abdirahman Mohamed Farole says he’s on a mission to try to change Somalia’s lawless reputation


By Santilla Chingaipe 

Source World News Australia Radio

For over two decades the troubled Horn of Africa nation of Somalia has been described by many as the textbook definition of a so-called failed state.

Decades of civil war and drought have turned this once prosperous country into one of the world’s most lawless territories, where piracy and terrorism have run rife.

One man who spent many years living in Australia says he’s on a mission to try to change that.

Until 2012, Somalia had been without a central government since the collapse of the hardline government in 1991.

The government administers the capital Mogadishu, but much of the southern part of the country is under the control of the militant group, al-Shabaab.

In the north is the generally more stable region of Puntland, which has been a semi-autonomous part of Somalia since 1998.

And it’s in Puntland where Abdirahman Mohamed Farole is making his mark.

Mr Farole says at the request of his community, he moved back to Puntland, after spending many years living in Melbourne with his family.

“And establish a functioning government and run for the election in 2009, January, has compelled me to come back and work with my community here in Puntland particularly, to work very hard in establishing the law enforcement and institution rebuilding in Somalia.”

Abdirahman Mohamed Farole was chosen in 2009 as the President of the region of more than two-million people.

Mr Farole says the choice was made by the Puntland parliament, comprising 66 representatives nominated by clan elders.

“Our traditional way of electing our leader from the community and constituency and reelect the leader from the community as we did in the past and as we did in Mogadishu in 2012. Now we went back to that process which is also a democratic process.”

The fall of the central government in Somalia 1991 led to an increase in illegal fishing off the country’s Indian Ocean coast.

Of more concern to other countries was an upsurge in pirate attacks on international shipping.

Abdirahman Mohamed Farole says since coming to power, cracking down on piracy has been his number one priority.

“Particularly to fight the piracy, we established the Puntland Marine Police Forces which we now call the PMPF. We established four coastal stations and also a training centre in Bossaso, the north land port of Puntland state of Somalia and three stations in the north eastern coast which normally the pirates used to have their bases to hunt with their commercial vessels parked into the Indian Ocean area and the Gulf of Aden in the north.”

And Mr Farole says Puntland’s Marine Police have been very effective.

“We liberated the Iceberg 1 MV (from Dubai) vessel in 2012, one year ago, it was 23 December 2012. We managed to liberate 22 crew members of the vessel. Unprecedented release of them. No-one was harmed. Many pirates that had been fighting with our forces had been killed and that has ultimately created the eradication of Puntland piracy in Puntland coastal areas which today enjoys the fact that no vessels of hostages are kept in Puntland.”

But Mr Farole says the decline in piracy has caused some people to revert to illegal fishing.

“The piracy issues may be reignited if the illegal fishing does not stop because that’s the original pirates’ activities has been ignited by the illegal fishing after the collapse of the Somali central government’s (1991) maritime forces on the coast of Somalia.”

Mr Farole says the only way piracy can be eliminated along the entire Somali coast is with international support.

“Unless the international community are taking their role to promote development programs in the coastal areas and assist our administration in addressing the real causes of piracy, which is illegal fishing, and also contributing to programs for the development of the coastal area, including creating employment opportunities for the youth who the pirates always use and also restoring fishery activities and large industries in the area and the coastal communities.

Another challenge facing Puntland, and Somalia as a whole, is the threat from al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.

Mr Farole says his measures to counter the threat by his government have included beefing up of the region’s intelligence infrastructure and other security systems.

“Introducing also anti-terrorist laws approved by our government and militarily we also increased our operations particularly in the area between Somaliland and Puntland, southwest of our major port in the north coast of the Gulf of Aden. Gradually, the activities of al-Shabaab have diminished and we have imprisoned many of them and prosecuted many of them, with death sentences, life sentences and other sentences.”

Mr Farole says he hopes Puntland can serve as a role model for Somalia in bringing stability to the troubled nation following decades of turmoil.

To see more of Abdirahman Mohamed Farole’s story and his journey back to Somalia, tune in to SBS One on Sunday 29th December at 10pm for the documentary for ‘President Vs The Pirates’.