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The Sham selection that Shames Somalia: The case of President Deni

WardheerNews Editorial

Somalia was under various transitional governments since the collapse of the military-led central government in January 1991. These transitional arrangements were meant to prepare the way for a permanent government that could return Somalia to its former standing. Somalia’s government was finally recognized in 2012 as full-fledged Federal Government (FGS) by the international community. While admittedly  the country has made concrete achievements in some areas , it also missed opportunities to show progress in critical areas such as security, institutional building, good governance and socio-economic development.

The Presidency of Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s tenure has coincided with the end of the transitional period and the advent of the federal system. During his term, some notable achievements were made, above all the establishment of four member states of the federal government, namely Jubaland, South West, Hirshabeelle, and Galmudug. Puntland  state was already in existence , whereas Somaliland declared a unilateral secession as far back as 1991.

President Hassan will also be remembered for holding a peaceful indirect election which was won by Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. With this good start, the hope was that his successor, Farmaajo, would redress what wrongs have been done by his predecessors while building on their achievements. President Farmaajo, has failed to name few to organize a one-person-one- vote election, complete the  provisional constitution,  build government institutions and a national army.

A quick spotlight on the action of the principal actors in the Federal Members State leaders, WardheerNews is looking into how and who perverted and thwarted that national goals:

Said Abdullahi Deni, Puntland’s President

Said Abullahi Deni has a mixed career, ranging  from an educator, businessman to member of the federal parliament, and former minister of planning in the federal government.

Mr. Deni  is  remembered during stint as federal MP in the Lower House to have been inactive and has played little or no role in the House’s legislative activities, mostly absent from bill writings and debates all attesting to his lack of interest to serve the public, but to pursue what is only of personal interest to him. He is also remembered for the controversy he created as a federal Minister of Planning and International Cooperation with his indifference and a lack of leadership, when his ministry in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has conducted a tentative census of the population which has created an outcry due to extremely low population numbers allocated to Somalia as whole and Puntland in particular.

With that record, he succeeded to become Puntland’s president in 2019. Awaiting him for priority action at the time were a number of pressing challenges  among them included advancing the democratization process, fighting corruption, strengthening governmental institutions, enhancing public services and improving security.

President Deni arriving in Mogadishu

Mr. Deni has pledged actionable programs for Puntland to accomplish in his term. The top action was to move the state toward a free and fair election. However, the pledge remains a promise broken,  economic progress was also part of his promises that hasn’t been fulfilled.

However, his overall accomplishments are thinly frail. Instead of working on the deliverance of his promises, he wasted much political capital on building political and financial infrastructure for his candidacy for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Somalia, taking all government institutions along with him. His ambition was buoyed by his believe that Mogadishu-based candidates are feeble who do not hold any offices. His undivided loyalty from the President of Jubaland is also ammunition under his belt to his.

The question that begs to be answered is how do people measure his reign of rule in the last three years in Puntland? Many inside and outside Puntland believe that the President has an authoritarian streak often guided by a dangerous impulsive moves that are often detrimental to the rule of law. Moreover, his contempt towards good governance has weakened the institutions building of Puntland.      

All semblances of representative deliberative government, like parliament, have been reduced to a blank silence but only towing the line.  His shock and awe handlers, known as “Aaran Jaan,” ensures that no one stands on his way. As if that was not enough pain to the residents of Puntland, cronyism and nepotism – family business ties to government contracts – has become modus operandi of his administration.  As shown in how he ran the last parliamentary of senate and lower house election, the President seems to not account to anyone but to his own ego.    

Puntlanders and Somalis in general look with dismay on his raid of the parliament and removal of the speaker (Abdihakim Mohamed- Dhoobo). This act marked the most egregious political violence against any institution or a siting legislator anywhere in Somalia. With a new parliamentary speaker plaint to Deni, eight more MPs critical of the president lost their impunity and seats at the behest of the president. With the regional supreme court dysfunctional and the rest of the judiciary taking orders from the presidency and cabinet only on paper, Puntland is destined for regression under his administration.

Deni’s reign has not only run roughshod over the conduct of the local democratic election process, but has also shaken the very peace and security of the state of Puntland. Bitter clashes have raged for months in the coastal town of Boosaaso between Deni’s forces and U.S.A trained special anti-terrorism forces known as PS.  In the end, when the situation got out of hand, the traditional leaders had to step in to resolve the problem and they unanimously ruled against him. Denis has conformed so far to their ruling, and while there is respite, tension between opposing sides still remains.

President Deni has been able to forge a one man rule in Puntland beyond questioning and accountability. Despite promises, some may plausibly argue that Puntland is more divided, stagnated in constitutional development, and walked away from its traditional way of focusing local peace, state building and helping nationally on federal matters.   What happened in reality in the last three years does resemble less the promised that propelled Deni to office or the pledges he has made.

President Deni, who by all accounts is standing for the presidency of Somalia, and in league with the president of Jubaland, is  using the combined  weight of their offices sidelining the traditional  elders, crowned MPs supportive to him get selected to Somalia’s two houses of Parliament. And to get his wishes, nothing it seems is allowed in his way.

Deni and Madoobe colluded to hand pick the MP for both houses. Their thinking didn’t go beyond “Let’s hand pick MPs” who in their thoughts they could keep under their spell. And yes that would be true with some MPs and Senators, but their blind side dismissed many including the seasoned MPs and Senators who are savvy and skilled politicians with vision. 

Being fueled by dictator like power that both have in their respective regions as presidents, doesn’t translate into having absolute influence on politicians with vision and strategy such as those elected in the leadership of the upper and lower houses of the federal parliament, who refused to abandon their candidacy as wished by Deni and Madoobe.

The mishap of Deni’s planning shows his faulty assumptions that everyone will wait for him in sideline. His blind strategy is itself never taking into consideration how shrewd, savvy and knowledgeable MPs and senators are, and his inability to gauge the situation in totality, leading his plans to come to short.

Despite the thin or no accomplishments to show, Mr. Deni goes to Mogadishu to vie for the top seat. In a normal country where politics is based on rational thinking, accomplishments, and a clear path to improve future generation’s life, Mr. Deni wouldn’t have run for presidency. Not only is he daring enough to run, he may through horse trading standing to be Somalia’s next Prime Minister. And that may not bode well for the country.      

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