MOGADISHU (HOL) – The President of semi-autonomous regional state of Puntland, Abdiweli Ali Gaas said over three millions USD of the funds confiscated at Mogadishu Airport was salaries of over 2000 Puntland soldiers.
Somali officials had seized plane carrying three unmarked bags stashed with 9.6 million USD from United Arab Emirates (UAE).
President Gaas told VOA Somali that tranche of the funds seized in Mogadishu was destined to pay salaries of the soldiers trained by UAE in Puntland State.
“Yes, $3600,000 of the amount (seized) was allocated for Puntland state, according to what the ambassador (UAE) told us, In Puntland State, there are thousands of UAE trained soldiers, the funds were intended for the salaries and logistics of these forces,” said Gaas.
The President has dismissed reports claiming the withdrawal of UAE trainers and others Emirati workers in Puntland state.
“The government of UAE told us that it did not disband the military training in Puntland state. In fact, UAE is doing crucial work for us,” said Gas. “They are fighting against illegal fishing, they are fighting against illegal immigrants and they fighting against Al-Shabab and ISIS, therefore are doing heavy task here (in Puntland). If they withdraw, something bad might happen.”
The leader also confirmed that the Gulf nation was still carrying out the training of the forces and other operations in the state despite UAE’s announcement to cancel its mission in Somalia.
” It has no benefit for Somalia, if UAE withdraw because it could have an impact on us, the Emirates train and pay the salaries of soldiers, they also implement millions of USD projects in Somalia, so they are still operating,” he emphasized.
He expressed hope over the ongoing talks between governments of Somali and UAE.
The Arabian Peninsula nation sent trainers to Puntland state in 2010.
Over 2400 soldiers who were trained by UAE are currently serving Puntland forces.