A Canadian exploration firm with
rights in Somalia's northern Puntland enclave has demanded the
signature of interim President Abdullahi Yusuf before the
exploration project can move forward, inside sources told Garowe
Africa Oil Corp., formerly Canmex Minerals,
partnered with Australia-based Range Resources, Ltd., in January to
explore for oil and minerals in the relatively stable Puntland
But the Africa Oil executives are now
demanding the signature of President Yusuf as the prerequisite for a
US$20-million payment, to be divided between Range Resources and
Yusuf's transitional government.
The executives threatened to withdraw from
their agreement with Range, and in turn with the Puntland
government, unless President Yusuf cements the deal by signing an
official document, the confidential sources added.
Puntland Finance Minister Mohamed "Gaagaab"
Ali and Range Resources official Liban Muse Bogor were both reported
to be in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this week waiting for President
Yusuf's return from London.
Although Minister Gaagaab has since returned
to Puntland for unspecified reasons, sources indicated Mr. Bogor is
still in Nairobi.
Since 2005, implementation of the Puntland-Range
deal has been hampered by steady resistance from a variety of
sources, including former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi and from
local clans opposed to the exploitation of their land and resources
without clan approval.
Gedi has said that his feud with President
Yusuf began when exploration agreements were signed without his
knowledge, sparking a constitutional tug of war with the president.
Somalia's parliament has yet to ratify a
petroleum law that would govern the management of the country's