June 30, 2019
Puntland President, Said Abdullahi Deni, has finally started his first baby steps in governing PUNTLAND State of Somalia, after disappointing several months in office since he got elected in January 2019.
It is was a stiff learning curve for him to understand the extent of mess left by his predecessor and to figure out the complexity of Puntland sub-clan political culture that has been pulling down the State since its establishment in 1998.
To start this journey, he, after a while, had paid a working visit to two important PUNTLAND cities, Port City of Bosaso, the backbone of PUNTLAND economy, and Galkayo, the security bulwark of the State. Now, it was time to address an annoying matter in Puntland, the Dubai P&O – Bosaso Port contract. He had paid a quick private visit to the UAE to takle with the issue. This secret business contract is still surrounded by suspicion and doubt about its contents and contractual conditions. President Deni still has to clear that cloud of mistrust in this deal.
Among the pressing issues of PUNTLAND includes infrastructure, new ports and road network. PUNTLAND is not land-locked as it is blessed with the longest coastline in Africa, being washed by waters of both the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. But, the State of Puntland has become air-locked with no reliable air-transport available despite modernization of its nternational airports in Garowe and Bosaso. That is because Puntland business community lacks behind all the rest of Somalia in their business outlook, entrepreneurship and collective pulling of finance to initiate and move major projects.
President Deni went on a quick travel, perhaps unprepared private visit, to Chinese firms in Peking. The visit and symbolic signing ceremonies were ill-advised to advertise, for the Federal Government and opponents of Puntland got noticed of DENI’S move in China, and according to informed source, they are trying to kill it. Nowadays, everything has to go through Mogadishu in the same way the world financial transactions go via New York City banking Swift codes. Welcome to Farmaajo-Khayre one city-state solution to all Somalia’s problems. Enroute to China via Addis Addis, President Deni managed to secure Fly Ethiopian Airlines deal to relieve Puntland passengers of the burden of driving all the way to and from Hargeisa of Somaliland. People see this here as one big baby step by President Deni. It is a welcome first step move.
Now, President Deni starts other baby steps like appointment of several regional and security officials. But, Puntland public is waiting for real reforms of government bureaucracy, fanance and security sectors, in particular, and creation of independent anti-corruption watch-dogs and legal instruments, and immediate movement towards democratization and multiparty elections. And, by the way, Deni re-election is only possible through multiparty election, if he does a good job in this Puntland Mandate.