Thursday, May 19, 2022
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President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland is Not the Right Person to Lead Somalia

By Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein

On March 20, in an event held in Garowe for the new Puntland Federal MPs and Senators, President Said Abdullahi Deni announced that he is running for the President of the Federal Government of Somalia. Anyone who listened to his speech of announcing his candidacy can clearly realize that he does not really have a plan for Somalia. President Deni himself stated that the only reason he is running for President is to remove President Farmajo from power, in which he has been working to accomplish for the last three years by any necessary means.

President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland

Mr . Deni didn’t put forth any program agenda  for moving Somalia forward if he becomes President, but as he stated only cares about removing Farmajo from the the presidency of Somalia.

Even though it was reported that president Deni was advised to resign from the Puntland presidency, he decided that he would remain in office and manage the affairs of Puntland from a far! This shows that he has no confidence that he will either win the Presidency of Somalia or be able to negotiate with other candidates and the parliamentarians he selected himself. Those parliamentarians did not go through a fair process that could be called an election, case in point: sixteen parliamentarians were reported to be elected in Bossasso in less than three hours, which means each candidate had an average of 11.25 minutes to be elected by 101 constituents. It is impossible for all those people to be called seated and given the orientation per Sept 17 agreement, and thus, it is preposterous for an election to take place in 11.25 minutes.

President Deni also selected those parliamentarians whom he thought would help him to assume the presidency of Somalia, micromanaging the whole process. As for those traditional elders who were supposed to be participating in the election process, he sidelined them and totally ignored their opinions and showed them the attitude of “My way or the highway.”  All this shows that president Deni did not seriously have any plans for the enormous challenges that country, Somalia faces. He doesn’t worry about how people would see his action or how his action would affect his running for the presidency, since his mind was focused on one thing only: Farmajo and the presidential seat.

Not only did President Deni not have any plan for the Somali people, but there were also four qualities of leadership that the President lacks, qualities that the Somali people desperately needed  for the new leadership to have.

First and foremost, today’s Somali people need a leader who reconciles them, brings peace and security to the country; a leader who is willing to listen to advice and also accepts and has patience for criticism from others and always looking for a win-win situation. Most of the Somali people had witnessed president Deni’s dealing with the Puntland parliamentarians, during his term as the President, where he was not able to address with legitimate criticism of his performance.

Secondly, Somali people need a leader who is honest and fair. President Deni does not possess any of those attributes, as can be seen by just looking at how he selected Puntland parliamentarians, that was based corruption, nepotism and loyalty to him without applying any other form of criteria. President Deni is the only regional President who did not allow anyone to be become a parliamentarian because of his or her merit. Majority of those he selected were either those who were loyal to him or a few that he thought may damage his presidency if he left them behind.

Thirdly, the Somali people today also desire a President whose authority would be respected, a president who will negotiate with his opposition instead of forcefully trying to get his own way. President Deni does not have those qualities of leadership; a case in point is how he handled the Puntland Security Force (PSF), where he tried to replace PSF leadership without considering important factors, such as whether his authority would work, the reason for replacing the leadership of PSF, the consequence of his decision, etc.

As a result of his ill-considered action, a lot of people were displaced from Bossasso, others died, and many more were injured, all because the President was trying to be authoritarian, and as a result, the leader of the PSF remained in his post after Deni had accepted regional elders’ negotiation among other things such as to allow elders to manage 18% of the Bossaso revenue, even though Bossaso has a mayor.

Lastly, the country want a president who would be able to accomplish “one person, one vote” in his term in office. It seems clear that President Deni would not be able to accomplish that, if one looks back at his attempt to establish “one person, one vote” in Puntland.  President Deni deserves credit for trying to establish “one person, one vote” in Puntland State after over 20 years, however, the result of his attempt after three years of leadership shows that he will not be able to establish “one person, one vote” in Somalia, or, even if he does, he will not accept the result if it is not to his expectation.

After 20 years of peaceful administration in Puntland State, president Deni was able to establish “one person, one vote” in three districts of Puntland in the three years he was leading Puntland. The result of that election has been slow and was not seated in due time, because the President’s party did not win as he expected. The chairman of the election commission also resigned when he realized that the President was not serious enough about the election process and was only interested in his party winning.

The man who is not serious to establish “”one person, one vote” in Puntland and implement the result of the three districts of Puntland cannot be expected to organize a similar voting system in Somalia in four years. It is apparent that the President, based on his past three and half  years of performance in Puntland, is not fit to leading Somalia, but one aspect that many  people who analyze Somali politics are afraid of,  is that his running for the presidency may cause president Farmajo to return to the office.

Those analysts are basing their assessments on the past elections in Somalia where the incumbent President always receive most of the votes and the second person to the incumbent ends up the leader, because all the other candidates who want change, award their votes to the second runner.

Since president Deni may be counting on the majority of the 37 members of parliament whom he selected personally and others he would expect from other regions, mainly Jubaland State, analysts are predicting that president Deni may get enough votes to become the second or third person, thus becoming a spoiler, making Farmajo to accumulate the most votes to come back.

In a nutshell, this time, Somali people are expecting, since over 70% of the new parliamentarian are new members, that they would elect the right person for the job after assessing all the candidates, without considering who selected them and instead, they are expected to seriously consider what they will swear for and that is the wellbeing of the region, people and the country.

Mohamed Abdiqafar Haji Hussein
Email: [email protected]
Atlanta, Georgia


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