Conflict resolution is a high priority for the Government of Puntland. Traditional elder-led methods of arbitration and conflict resolution are widely accepted among communities within the region. The ability of these traditional methods to deter armed violence makes them a vital underpinning for sustained peace.
The Bari and Karkaar region of Puntland is situated north of the Gulf of Aden, west of Sanaag and south of Nugaal. These three points form an area known as the Ayax Triangle. The topography of plains and low-lying hills makes the area suitable for grazing, especially during the rainy season. The Ayax Triangle attracts pastoralists from nearly all parts of Northern Somalia.
Communities from Bari and Karkaar lived peacefully side by side for centuries, but a shortage at a shared water point in 2009 triggered violent conflict. Several people were killed, several were wounded and property worth thousands of dollars lost. The conflict escalated and continued into 2011, causing deteriorating security, displacement, division and growing mistrust between the two communities.
Successive reconciliation attempts were made by the two communities in 2011 and 2012. Following months of intense talks and pressure from the government a peace agreement was signed. Although the agreement lasted only short while, the government continued to promote social reconciliation.
Using lessons learned from previous efforts, the Ministry of the Interior nominated an arbitration group comprising ministerial panels, parliamentary groups and members of both clans. Headed by the Vice President, the arbitration group was mandated to establish a reconciliation committee made up of elders and sheikhs. The reconciliation committee’s role is to mediate the claims presented by the feuding sub clans.
Following preliminary talks held in November 2014, with Stability Fund support, the Ministry of the Interior, brought together 40 representatives from both sub-clans. On February 14th 2015, mediation talks were held and continued for seventeen consecutive days. During this period, 75 claims submitted by the two sub-clans were reviewed and impartially ruled upon.
At the beginning of March 2015 a ceremony marking the conclusion of the first phase of the peace conference was held at the Puntland Development Research center (PDRC). It was agreed that the rulings of the reconciliation committee will be held in Kodmo Village where the final peace agreement will be signed. On 26th March the inauguration of the second phase of the peace conference was warmly received by the community. There was a spirit of optimism in the process. The inauguration was attended by President, his delegation and members of community carrying signs reading ‘No peace, no life’.
The reconciliation committee announced the verdicts in relation to the 75 claims. A comprehensive peace accord was signed, and agreement on the compensation modalities and timeframe was reached. The Vice President and his delegation visited several affected villages to raise awareness on the peace agreement and the demobilization of armed combatants from both clans. The Stability Fund aims to continue its support in conflict resolution and economic growth in the region.