MOGADISHU, Somalia, – The United States government has expressed a grave concern over the dismissal of the commander of Puntland Security Forces [PSF] Mohamud Osman Diyano by the state president Said Abdullahi Deni, amid a rising tension in Bosaso town.
A senior diplomat at US embassy in Mogadishu has twice held phone conversation with Puntland President Said Deni, pressuring him to find a peaceful solution to PFS leadership crisis, reliable source said.
“We urge all types of forces in Bosaso to refrain from engaging in politics. We call on all security forces to focus on fighting violent extremist groups such as al-Shabaab”, the diplomat said.
Tension has been escalating since last month Osman refused to leave post after he was fired by President Deni on Nov 24. Deni also appointed Mohamed Amin as his replacement.
There were efforts to resolve the dispute in order to avoid division within agency but all mediation talks broke down.
PSF, a 600-strong force under the direct command of the US military, has returned to its base in Bossaso, protesting the dismissal of its director.
What is PSF?
It was initially known as Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) when formed in 2002, with support from the US. In 2010 PIS was split into 2 units – Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA) and Puntland Security Forces (PSF).
Supported by the US, PSF is now estimated to be a battalion.
There were efforts to merge PSF with US trained Somali special commandos known as “Danab” earlier this year but that was not successful, according to sources, who asked to be anonymous.
It was also reported that the support from the US was disrupted (possibly ceased) following the repositioning of US forces from Somalia.
The US diplomat says they remain concern about the escalation could create space for the al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab and Islamic State groups in the region.
Both groups still hold small towns in Bari region of Puntland.
Bossaso residents say they are extremely worried about a possible between the rival forces within the Puntland army. There have been calls to de-escalate the tension and opt for dialogue to fix the dispute over PSF’s leadership crisis.
Last week, Bossaso’s situation has deteriorated after president Deni refused a proposal by the traditional elders to give the ousted commander Diyano the houses, vehicles, and weapons.
According to a statement seen by Mareeg Online, this was a pre-condition for the handover of power to the new director, Mohamed Amin who is in the town for weeks without an office to operate due to the standoff.
Mr. Deni refused the proposal, saying it would damage to Puntland state’s government, as well as encouraging corruption in public property, and termed it as “unacceptable and unlawful”.
He says he had “closed the door” to any negotiations with the sacked PSF commander, adding that he would use military means to find a solution to the PSF leadership crisis.
The president said that there will be no institution belonging to an individual in Puntland and vowed to end a family business in the US-backed PSF.
The counter-terrorism agency since its foundation in 2004 was ruled by the family of Osman Diyano – from the father and his two sons, making millions of US dollars from the Pentagon.