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Puntland that Came into a Cross Road Oblivion by Its Sovereigns and Federal Government that had a day-trip to Damascus and came back

By Abdiqani Ahmed Farah (Dala’aan) PhD

 “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” therefore “Never send to know for whom the Pell tolls, it tolls for Thee” John Donne; for whom the Pell tolls

It appears, nowadays, the issue of Puntland pecking order for the division and share of power by the clans kicked off its birth out of the ashes of central government’s demise is being shaken by a tremor with elevated Richter scale. Subsequent to the election of the current president and taking over the running of the affairs of the State, the dissent and disgruntlement by large sector of Puntland stakeholders in its birth is gathering impetus marked by unheard-of events that are happening in a spectacular fashion.

The foremost of which has been the eviction of the chair of the parliament by brute force, who happened to be Warsangeli Harti equated upon the job. After fielding inquiries on what transpired for the president and his close-knit clique, who are handsomely pretty much rule the roost in Puntland administration, to unceremoniously topple the chair of the parliament converged into a larger stream of his refusal to work with the president in a style that has been mellowing since the states’ inception: The executives, namely the president, to bank-role the chair to subsequently advance the president’s policy and programs in the parliament. They have done so to their detriment of not knowing the issue of the federal government metastically featured in a fairly strong fashion than used to be prior to its permanency by international community.

President Farmajo with President Deni

This, the federal government phased in the political theatre, caught Puntland administration, that used to enjoy the privilege of being the only functioning organ of what used to be Somalia, apart from Somaliland that unilaterally rescinded its unification with Somali south, flat-footed. The current federal government is in the ebb tide of its term, and during the time in the office doggedly worked socks off to transfer power into Mogadishu come hell or high water. The currently existing of internationally recognized federal government, particularly the present Prime Minister, who enjoys unreservedly the sanction of the president, gave the impression of being a peak on for the hard done by clans and sub-clan, according the opinions one gathers, who feel their status among the federal states, of which Puntland is the vanguard, is compromised to the level of second class citizens in their ranks.

A large sway of those clans and sub-clans who happened to have been, since its inception, faithfully under the tutelage of Puntland, in their discourse, when engaged in a conversational debate, strongly feel deep disillusionment to the Puntland project willy-nilly. The thrust of their argument homes in that the accepted rotational triangulation of the top office of the land by, if one lances the boil, three siblings of Mohamoud Saleeban.

The rest of Puntland stakeholders, without prejudice, have strong sentiment that above accepted modus operandi is no longer sustainable, and as aforementioned earlier the Federal Government juxta-positioning itself in the auditorium played a catalyst to embolden their endeavor in challenging the state of affairs of Puntland Federal government.  

What has happened, what went wrong for those clans and sub-clans to strongly express doubts on Puntland project. Before we answer these questions, one has to examine where we have been and where we are going. These queries will take one thirty years back and the lack of co-existence on the parts of Somali clan-based factions of the day. This reminds one john Donne’s (1572-1631) line ‘for whom the bell tolls: “Remember we are all one – all the same”. Donne gave the impression that whatever affects one affects us all. In here, what went detrimentally awry in the ensuing mayhem in which, in the spur of the moment, clan-based insurgencies such as USC (note; there had been several versions of USC in here), SPM and SSDF turned guns into one another is somewhat peculiar and difficult to interpret. As a result, the bitter and pernicious clan-based civil strife in which each one had been trying to defeat the other, in addition to social instability to date, resulted in unimaginable hunger, illness and death. In the end, protracted civil conflict between warring clan-based factions enhanced the solidarity of the main sub-clans in order to stave off the allied clan groupings fighting from the other side of the divide. Eventually, in a very short space of time, the main clans that make Somali ethnography, namely Hawiye, Darood, Dir and Digil & Mirifle (though featured at a later stage of the chapter) gravitated into their stronghold/regions.

To cut long story short, Somalis found themselves divided according to clan lines for almost thirty years now, and the international community employed all the tools in the trade of reconciliation and diplomacy to first cease the hostility, and then reintegrate Somalis into a one nation-state they were prior to civil war to no avail. In that endeavor, International community changed strategy at Mbeghatti reconciliation plenary by introducing the federalism project. By and large it worked and, for the first time Somali transitional federal president moved into villa Somalia. The rest is academic.

Now, seven years into its permanency, and the second president in his final year of the term, the fissure between Puntland and Jubaland administrations and Federal Government is getting wider by the day. The bone of contention, from the outset, in general, is to do with a confusion created by the lack of permanent and ratified on a referendum constitution that defines the corresponding roles and dockets of the federal government and federal states respectively. Good example for the matter is the issue of the education that pivots around “who legally issues the certificate for the Puntland secondary school-leavers: Puntland or the Federal Government.

Looking from a different perspective, Somalia has been going through, with heavy steps, stages of which the latest is when the federal government has been recognized as a permanent one starting with Hassan Sheikh’s tenure. That, a country turned a corner. New federal member states featured into the fray, and consequently compromised Puntland’s unique status as the sole functioning member state in the federal Somalia. The strange thing is Puntland administration failed to react and readjust its political locus accordingly. The biggest looming large matter on the horizon has been the longed project of democratization. Puntland should have been proactive in getting one step ahead of the game to consolidate its legitimacy among its stakeholders as well as International community arena by doing away with the abhorred and persisted custom of power revolving around clan quota in selecting the members of the parliament. For the reason, this modality disenfranchises a large sway of the sub-clans not to ever vie for the role. In addition, the top jobs of the land are reserved for a specific sub-clans.

In addition, it was 1998 when those clans celebrated the installation of Puntland as an interim administration, and for the elected president to prepare, in his three-year term, the electoral process, and for the people ultimately go to the polling stations in order to elect their representatives in the parliament and the next president. Rather, he made an extension for himself and that did cost life and limb. He crushed marked adversaries and extended his stay for another term. His subsequent two successors extended their respective tenures of staying in the office, contrary to the provisional charter later on ratified in a plenary, to four and five years respectively. Furthermore, to the incredulity of the rest of stakeholder of the Puntland project, all were Majeerteen Mohamoud Saleeban. Adding insult to injury, the succession adjusted itself in a rotational fashion which proved difficult to break. Its over twenty years now, and the prospect of migrating into a democratic process for the plebeians elect their parliament representatives and the president is getting ever elusive endeavor by the day.

Then came the permanent federal Government, as alluded in the above, which served as a beckon of hope for the rest, excluded, non-Mohamoud Saleeban if you like, stakeholders to come out of the cycle. It’s in the public domain that those clans and sub-clans who are the major investors of the Puntland state have also representatives in the parliament as well as the council of ministries of the Federal Government. They serve as a conduit between the Federal Government and their constituents. Rumors had it that the ministry of Planning of the FG, who happens to belong Warsangeli, made some effort to open a constituent surgery in his clan base in vain.

Altruistic Message to the president of Puntland

Puntland administration, namely the president, is obliged to first get series about the need for the people to elect their political representatives by genuinely and urgently kick-starting the democratization process. The current president has shown a uniquely unprecedented and commendable undertaking, in comparison to his predecessors, by nominating The Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC) in the first year of his term. Never the less, The majority people have their atavistic fear on his intension as a fleeting exercise the incumbent tries to first please the international donors and, secondly to stave off any criticism and descent from within.

Therefore, clear and concrete steps must follow the TPEC nomination of which the major litmus test is first to set up the constitutional court within a month followed by preparing the electoral register, and start the local government elections. One believes if engaged in individuals with utmost integrity and knowledge on the matter, its doable in a fairly short space of time: two years ± one year.   

Secondly, the president ought to revisit the governmental institutions, though clan allocations is ubiquitously inescapable, and restructure by first making a complete overhaul to the incompetent Council of Ministers and most of director generals (DGs) who’s technical incapability is mind boggling and crippled the public institutions.  Its evidently and without a doubt clear Puntland blunders to make their case in the national and international arenas due to incapability of these individuals (namely Ministers and DGs), with the exception of a few.

Perfect case is the Puntland’s secondary-school leavers certificate shenanigans. One skimmed through the provisional Federal Government Constitution which clearly states in Article 54 regarding Allocation of powers:

‘The allocation of powers and resources shall be negotiated and agreed upon by the Federal Government and the Federal Member States (pending the formation of Federal Member States), except in matters concerning: (A) Foreign Affairs` (B) National Defense` (C) Citizenship and Immigration` (D) Monetary Policy, which shall be within the powers and responsibilities of the federal government’.

One wonders, in the first place, how on earth the certification of Puntland secondary leavers got in the hands of the federal Government, as the aforesaid article 50 clearly specifies that its not in the itemized dockets that falls into the Federal Government’s hands. It’s a matter tilted into the federal states according to the overwhelming federal countries throughout the region and the world. Furthermore, Puntland, according to its constitution, reserves the right to retain its autonomy and unilaterally runs its affairs until such time the federal constitutions is ratified in a referendum and harmonized with that of Puntland, as article 140stipulates.

The above queries vindicate one’s argument on ‘something is extremely wrong on the part of Puntland and, the negligence pertinent in the ministry of education is not unique. Rather, its deep-rooted throughout the government institutions. Obviously, heads have to role in here. In other words, someone must take the responsibility, or is it part of the bigger picture that Puntland government ship, after 21 years into existence, is headed into an iceberg.

It has been substantiated that the ministry for Education of the Federal Government took their case to the international community as well as those countries that donate higher education scholarships, and subsequently shut the doors on Puntland by convincing benefactors not to give any accreditations to anyone who doesn’t own Federal Government certificate. What on earth negated Puntland ministry of education, or other government ministries for that matter, to endeavor in presenting their cases to those countries and international community. The other Social issues are in the same predicament that the Federal Government handsomely succeeded in diverting all international donations and programs, from education, healthcare, infrastructures, governance etc, through them.

If Somalia decided and got series about embracing federalism, by researching the federal countries throughout the world, its universally accepted matter that the likes of agriculture and fishing, industrial relations, community services, sport and recreation, consumer affairs, police, prisons schools, hospitals, conservation and environment, roads, railways and public transport, public works, and emergency services come under the social issues that falls in the docket of the federal states. After all, the executive branch (namely the president and his Prime Minister) of Federal government, must come to terms with it.

Unbidden Advice to the Federal Government Executives.

Without a further ado, Somalia to get a permanent, internationally accepted federal government has been long and hard slog, don’t, for the sack of petty point scoring based on clan animosity doctrine, ruin it. It’s a fragile one striving to get legitimacy from the disillusioned and separated by malevolent and protracted civil strife Somali people. It goes without saying that Somalis are divided according to clan hostile borders/lines. Some of the scholars equated the Somali ever-lasting problem, as ‘an inescapable and irresolvable existential curse’. The Federal Government is by and large nominal. It may hustle international community, by making its fleeting legitimacy most, to score some points on their political adversaries. That, ultimately and spectacularly back fires big time for those individuals who are at the helm of the top job; that is the president and the prime minster. As a consequence, it further alienates already dissatisfied clans and sub-clans existed as federal states.

Its only one year or less left for your term in office, make the most of it in showing courage and leadership that, at least, triggers trajectory for reconciliation by first defusing the hostility between you and other federal states such as Puntland and Jubaland. And secondly, bring the opposing groups in Galmudug by reversing the idea of siding with one group and alienating others. The asymmetrical policy only pours explosives into what is already simmering fire, and inadvertently contributory to promulgating disharmony and ultimately dashing away any hope in reconstituting Somali nation-state. Let it go the social issues and any other public matters Article 54, regarding Allocation of powers, did not reserve for the federal Government. In the end, inevitably, these issues will be the matter for the Federal states to handle in their social affairs like any other federal country in this day and age.

Finally, if the competing forces, now transcended the prolonged predicament Somalis has been to another level in the names of federal government and federal states, will not show a sign of maturity-com-serenity, the country will plunge further down into the abyss where everybody, regardless of their affiliations, loses.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” therefore “Never send to know for whom the Pell tolls, it tolls for Thee” John Donne; for whom the Pell tolls (1572-1631).

Abdiqani Ahmed Farah (Dala’aan) PhD
Email: [email protected]


Abdiqani Ahmed Farah (Dala’aan) did his PhD at the University of Glasgow. His work focuses on, inter alia, higher education management-cum-quality assurance, curriculum development, Applied Mathematics & Statistics, Computer Information systems, Biochemistry, Environmental as well as Agricultural sciences.

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