A few days ago the Ordinary Session of Puntland of House Representatives had opened in Garowe, the Capital of the State, in an atmosphere of peace. By Constitution and tradition, the State President opened the Parliament Session.
As usual, invited dignitaries delivered speeches on the occasion. Suddenly, and inconsistently with the Parliament protocols and tradition for any opening session, an MP, Awil Hassan Daad, rose up on the floor with the explicit permission by the Speaker, and asked the President scathing questions. The President answered the MP’s questions, but got annoyed and stormed out of the Session. By the way, the President was not required legally to stay on in the session after he had delivered his opening speech.
Now, legally, an MP can ask a member of the Executive Branch any question in the public interest. In doing so, there is no crime committed that warrant the Attorney General to issue a legal action against the MP for asking the President hard questions. That MP had a question and the Speaker gave him the floor of the House to ask. He must be safe on the floor.
Besides, the House is co-equal branch of the government and couldn’t be silenced by the Executive Branch or Judiciary.
True, protocols and civility matter in their conduct by all branches of government.
In conclusion, people of Puntland badly need independent public institutions. But, that also applies to the Judiciary to avoid being seen as an Executive tool to silence government critics. Equally, people of Puntland will not tolerate their representatives being used and manipulated by external forces against the vital interests of the people of Puntland.
Ciise Dholowaa contributed to this article providing legal definitions of Parliament Privileges.