PUNTLAND: CRISIS OF IDENTITY OR LOSS OF VISION?

Is PUNTLAND in a state of national crisis in every aspect of its public endeavors? Would the anouncement of a forthcoming PUNTLAND Congress or Conference scheduled in March 15, 2020, respond to this crisis or troubling political disillusionment of its residents, and youth, in particular? Would Puntland continue to hold the unity and cohesion of its constituency member regions, after it had lost parts of its founding members? Would the reckless and unconstitutional activities by the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia take advantage of Puntland administrative and security vulnerabilities in Mudugh and Bari Regions? Would Puntland stage and maintain fiscal, public and security sector reforms?  Would democratization of Puntland governance finally come true before the end of President Abdullahi Said Den’s Term in office? Would Puntland leaders be able to manage the persistent political and constitutional frictions with Farmaajo Administration? Would Puntland so-called “universities” be allowed to continue to ill-educated Puntland youth with fake diplomas and degrees with the production of illiterate graduates with no work skills?


These are critically important questions before the Puntland Forthcoming Congress, begging for answers in fundamental ways.

Puntland Government role in this Congress must be limited only to security, funding and help in organization, but the public debate and agenda setting must come from the delegates to the conference. Delegates should monitor any manipulation by government agents and politicians. The Congress must be conducted in an atmosphere of freedom of expression and genuine debates on outstanding issues of the day and current Puntland socio-economic stagnation, whereby sick persons still embarrassingly go and seek medical care in Hargeisa and Mogadishu, after more than two decades of Puntland statehood and self-government. This is the legacy of systemic and run-away corruption in Puntland public health sector.

In a nutshell, Puntland Forthcoming Congress must be conducted along the Founding Principles of the State and in manners resembling the Founding Congress of the State with benchmarks and objectives to achieve in timeframes.

Finally, Farmaajo Administration is engaged in dismantling the federal system agreed upon in the foundation of the 2nd Republic in 2004. What is the Puntland State strategy and vision towards the New Somalia being created out of the Civil War? What is the alternative to a central dictatorship? Are there lessons to learn from that past experience and experiment in post colonial Somalia? Are Somalis ready relive tyranny and central command government?

Puntland State and its residents have still the potential to recover lost opportunities to mend past policy mistakes and re-gain blurred original vision


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PUNTLAND: ABSENCE OF COHERENT STATE POLICY


October 3, 2019


Could anybody pinpoint the policy objectives of Puntland Government on the way forward locally and nationally? If you can do, share these policy goals with us.


I don’t see a Policy Paper on what Puntland State is doing or intends to do for all its residents to know and work towards achieving these objectives involving socio-economic targets; formulating State policy towards the rogue policies of the Federal Government; General Election 2020/21; its relationships and coordination with other Federal Member States; working with international partners and organizations; security and stability of Puntland State, among other issues of vital importance.


Puntland State seems unable or reluctant to formulate adequately a coherent policy on her political differences with the Mogadishu Regime, thus creating a confusion in the minds of Puntland people as from whom they take the political lead in going forward with regards to Somali national and local affairs. It looks that the State is in permanent political limbo situation. This is isn’t acceptable as it is dangerous – citizens not knowing where their country is heading to, how to help the State and what to hope for.

 
President Said Abdullahi Deni and his administration officials should know that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and that Puntland couldn’t stay put to wait for something happening to her, instead of Puntland State leading something to happen and shaping its future and that of Somalia.


There should be a White Paper on Puntland’s political objectives and actions to back them up. This should come out upon studies and thoughtful deliberations to produce serious policy alternatives on pressing issues of the State and Somalia. There should be mass communication strategy to inform Puntland general public and that of the people of Somalia and international community. Get the confusion and dilemmas out of the way. Puntland shouldn’t be playing Proverbial Ostrich.

“Finally, it is highly recommendable to recall all Puntland representatives, members of Federal Parliament and the Senate to come home for urgent consultations as a first step to work out a new Puntland strategic policy”


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PRESIDENT DENI OF PUNTLAND STATE MAKES FIRST BOLD MOVES

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July 8, 2019
Congratulations to President Said Abdullahi Deni for making first encouraging steps towards taking the ownership of PUNTLAND STATE multifaced problems, some of which are chronic and intractable. However, these are only first steps in overalling a stagnant socioeconomic and administrative/political malfeasance that had crippled the State so long since its foundation in 1998.
The President is right to start reforming the State’s Acheel’s Heels: Security and Finance Sectors. Flashing out aging and corrupt bureaucrats from Puntland finance sector is a much welcome effort by the President.
Appointment of good people in position of authorities is not enough, though. Transparent standards and legal instruments must accompany with these official appointments. To fight corruption and mal-administration in public affairs, autonomous agencies and departments such as the Auditor-General and Accountant-General must be empowered with independent powers, financial and legal means to discharge their responsibilities. If that doesn’t happen immediately, there is nothing much to celebrate for the President’s seemingly bold official appointments last night.

It is equally important to appoint bureaucrats on merit and qualifications through competitive interviews and exams, including their through vetting and background checks, while taking into account the necessary employees diversity at ministries and agencies. President Deni seems not bringing in new qualitative ideas and innovative system of personnel recruitment. He has immediately embarked upon doing business as usual.

It is also the right time for the President to make an appropriate Cabinet Reshuffle as six months is more than enough to evaluate the performance of individual ministers. There is no point in keeping on a non-performing Cabinet Member.

PUNTLAND STATE has been held back for much of its existence by two major crippling factors:
  1. Epidemic corruption with impunity
  2. Weak and equally corrupt House of Representatives.
Puntland House of Representatives were solely responsible for all that went wrong in Puntland, I can ascertain this with authority. They were the reason why we have “Madax-ka-Nool” government here. It is a sham Parliament in both its election (in fact, selection process) and legislative operations. Until this House and its leadership behavior change, a goodwill of the Executive and its compliance with laws and regulations of the land can’t be expected, not to talk about checks and balance of power.
To sign off, I must share my personal experience with you that the people of Puntland love their government as they equally admire competent, transparent and honest leaders. They will definitely fall in love with President Deni, only if he earns that public trust.
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Postscript:

Puntlanders might have been a bit disappointed with the current setup of the Ministry of Energy, Water and Mineral Resources in the terms of lack of employees diversity. Based on the historical background of these agencies now coming under a ministry, the President couldn’t do it better otherwise without risking a political capital for the time being because of known sub-clan considerations and contradictions. These agencies are now also better off, being attached to a ministry for funding and more public transparency.

In tribal politics, no politician can assert his paramount leadership role, however, without first securing his last word command on his immediate sub-clan power-base.

PRESIDENT DENI’S DILEMMA AND PUNTLAND CONCERNS

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July 7, 2019
President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland was an outsider of Puntland politics. He is not well versed in the history of Puntland governance and its struggle during the Regime of Siyaad Barre. He is not deeply rooted in its vision for New Somalia. In ideology, he is hailing from religious groupping of Al-Islah orientation, whose members are International Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists. By tradition, Somali religious sects aren’t well-known for paying much attention to modern statecraft beyond opposing secularism, while lacking any inclusive world outlook and experience in modern world interconnectivity. That is because politics and political power are off-limits to religious leaders in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, in particular. However, they are trained in getting involved in politics through religious Dawa in other countries outside the sources of Wahabi and other religious sects persuasions. Issues of secular government and any forms of governance, including federalism and division of power between states and regions etc is not included in their religious narratives or vision for national objectives.For them, it is a foreign concept and non-Islamic imitations or pretendence.
Being an outsider and involved lately in Federal politics, Mr.Deni happened to find himself as the State President of Puntland State. What made his situation even worse is the fact that he had inherited a mess left by his predecessor, Gaas, in Puntland, and therefore, had to climb up a stiff learning curve. Political dynamics are highly fluid in Somalia, waiting for no one to catch up. It is a quick-paced environment, expecting not only equally quick interventions, but also vision and planning as well.
Now, Puntland State, created out of a long struggle against One City-state domination, dictatorship repression and clan cleansing in a vicious civil war that many people may be right in arguing that it was genocide, has serious concerns about how things were developing politically lately in Somalia. People of Puntland are deeply troubled by the state of union of Somali affairs at moment, what has been happening to Somali National Accords of Federal Constitution, Federalism, Power -sharing, Resources- sharing, all the solemn declarations that Somalis had agreed to to end the civil war and revive the failed state of Somalia. There is a political dilemma and anxiety setting in the State. Puntlanders are seriously worried now for their own future and the gains of their long historical struggle against tyranny and backwardness.
Let us not only hope that the New Administration of Puntland is upto the job, but that we should also monitor performance and keep watchful eyes on the rapid political developments in Somalia.

SOMALIA: FEDERALISM MORTALLY WOUNDED, HAS PUNTLAND LOST BATTLE OR WAR?

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FEDERALISM IN SOMALIA AT CROSS-ROADS

When former Federal President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, had the battle to block the formation of Jubaland Federal Member State in May 15, 2013, it was a turning positive point for proponents of the Federal system in Somalia. It was, however, clarion call to anti-federalist forces in Mogadishu political elites. For federalists, Jubaland victory made them complacent and got disarmed. For anti-federalist, it was a wake-call to change course and find out options to fight back. For them, two options were on the table:

1. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Co. had to accept reluctantly the reality on the ground and speed up the process of creating Hawiye federal member states in Central Somalia, Galmudugh and Hirshabelle, to counter the political weight of the established Darood federal member states in Puntlland and Jubaland, on the top of the NFD counties in Kenya and Somali Regional State in Ethiopia. There was panic in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s political camp. They had to hurry up.

2. However, the other more effective faction of anti-federalist forces had to change tact by bringing in an electable non-Hawiye opponent of federalism. They put their bet on former prime minister of FGS, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. They struck gold as Farmaajo surprisingly got elected FGS President in 2016 by heavily corrupt members of the Federal Parliament Lower Chamber, while ignoring the non-existent then Upper Chamber.

In turn, Farmaajo had to find a political novice to install him as his loyal prime minister. He had made an unconventional choice of picking up the most unexpected candidate in the eyes of Hiraab political elite and Mogadishu establishment, Hassan Ali Khayre, an outsider and an in-law from Farmaajo wife’s Murursade clan, a non-Hiraab minority Hawiye sub-clan, who would be loyal only to Farmaajo because of Khayre’s vulnerability due to lack of power-base in Mogadishu.

Now, the process of fighting back to undermine the Federal Constitution and unravel federalism had had to begin. The new anti-federalist policies got started with suppressing all promotions and press support for federalism; delaying the Review Process of the incomplete Federal Constitution, creating tension and conflicts in all Federal Member States, and commissioning an unprecedented worldwide social media campaign of Nabad & Nolool (N&N) to mislead and misinform Somali youth.

The success of FGS anti-Federal agenda, in the short period of only two years, is stunning with elimination of most Heads of Federal Member States that begun with removal of Abdullahi Osoble of Hirshabelle, and went on to eliminate Sharif Hassan Adan of Southwest State; Abdiweli Gaas of Puntland and recently Ahmed Du’aale Haaf of Galmudugh.

The challenges to overcome now are Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntlland State and Ahmed Mohamed Islaam (Ahmed Madoobe) of Jubaland. Both Heads of Regional states have certain vulnerabilities to exploit by Farmaajo anti-federalist team. Both didn’t come to power by popular choice. Both have unpredictable and unreliable members of local parliaments. Both avoid surrounding themselves with the states’ political heavy weights as advisors and consultants. Both have serious political rivals being bankrolled by the FGS leaders. FGS subversive campaigns to destabilize them politically is reportedly well under-way now. For President Deni, it is probably through the Puntland House of Representatives by means of impeachment and non-confidence vote to oust him. For Madoobe, they will probably try Sharif Hassan removal style: Buy him out. If that wouldn’t work, then, use Gaas removal style: support his political rivals with massive financial backing to get rid of him in the forthcoming Jubaland Election in August this year. They could succeed.

For the benefit of those, who do not understand the political dynamics of FGS in Mogadishu, misleading reports and misinformation coming from Somalia abound as to who is in charge in the FGS. Most say that it is Prime Minister Khayre’s one man-show and President Farmaajo is a by-stander.

Nothing further from the truth. According to informed and reliable sources. Khayre is the weakest of all past TFG/FGS Prime Minsters. That is because he has no strong power-base in Mogadishu. Nothing happens in FGS without Farmajo’s permission or knowledge. It is Farmajo, who is dictating Khayre. It is Farmajo, who is anti-Federal and anti-regional administrations. It is Farmajo, who is protecting Khayre. Khayre couldn’t survive a parliament motion against him if it weren’t Farmajo. The entire Hiraab constituency is up against Khayre. Khayre has more parliament MPs support from Darood than from Hawiye. This is Khayre’s strength as FGS Prime Minister because of Farmaajo. It is, actually, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, who is pushing hard for unitary central government in gross violation of the Federal Constitution, and, by the way, that is the main reason as to why the FGS doesn’t want to complete the Review of the Constitution to make easier for them to ignore or violate it while it is still in never-ending process. If Farmaajo would get elected in 2020, there would not be a federal constitution. Talk about nominal semi-autonomous regions and central government tyranny.

Their policy strategy is to destroy the Federal Member States, or install their puppet regional leaders in the meantime, hold sham general elections to return to power and establish a strong one city-state with rubber-stamp institutions.

Now, it is a clarion call to forces of Federalism to fight back as it is a wake-call to the residents of Puntland State to contemplate about their destiny in a new Somalia whose leaders are trying to restore One City-state rule.

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PUNTLAND PRESIDENT DENI’S FIRST BABY STEPS

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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.

PUNTLAND REPS vs SSC REPS IN CONSTITUENCY REPRESENTATION

Garowe, May 24, 2019

People of PUNTLAND are wondering about as they are also dismayed by lack of true political representatives in Mogadishu and Hargeisa.

The SSC Regions don’t express much regrets as they didn’t choose those who are either self-appointed or hand-picked by Hargeisa with a specific purpose to harm the very cause and interests of SSC Regions. That is self-explanatory to most people in the Regions. Tradionally, residents of the SSC Regions had no history of self-government, and had historically always supported the strongman among Darood leadership in Somalia, starting with Sayyid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan of Derwish Movement. Now they are tempted to support Farmaajo, but their delemma is that they don’t see him as a strong leader to bet on.

In the case of Puntland State, we aren’t too sure whether the people of PUNTLAND are aware of the fact that they have neither genuine political representation nor competent spokespersons for the vital interests of Puntland in Mogadishu at all. Some observers said that Puntland had zero influence in Mogadishu, and that is why the obvious and well documented partial and partisan politics of Farmaajo-Khayre Administration has free hand in its systamatic campaigns to purge persons of Puntland origin from the public service of the Federal Government – forget all about power-sharing and taking Puntland into any account in regional balance on power and resources sharing. This political campaign to marginalize Puntland specifically by President Farmaajo to the pleasure of Prime Minister Khayre, is happening under the watch of those presumably was elected to represent the interests of the people of the State of Puntland in conjunction with Somalia’s national objectives. We have authentic reports that some Federal Cabinet Ministers of Puntland origin were even complaining about the presence of some junior civil servants from Puntland federal constituency in various departments of the FGS in Mogadishu. Think about the extent of that failure and irresponsibility. One may not be aware of the fact that the so-called Puntland representives in Mogadishu are locked in Mogadishu hotels, and they are in line, waiting for a call from either Khayre or Farmaajo to settle hotel bills. Federal dipomatic corps, judiciary and finance postings have been made “no go” for persons of Puntland origin. What representation people of Puntland expect from poor hostages in a gangland under the name of Somalia’s Capital City.

Still under these severe conditions, failed Puntland’s representatives operate in petty partisan factions, some acting as if they represent their own parties in sub-clan riddled politics of Puntland of late; some representing the old school when MOD was in power in the heydays of Barre Regime, while others are confused as to where they belong to, still others are there to go along the highest bidder for vote-buying in anti-government parliament motion-prone Mogadishu. Nobody trusts a politician without a principle and one nobody knows what he or she stands for. It is unfortunate situation in politics one may find himself/herself. Hence, the name of political prostitution in political science. These pseudo representatives of Puntland in Mogadishu couldn’t even dare to challenge Federal Minister, Godax Barre, whom everybody knew that he was a minister only by name with no influence over one class-room in Mogadishu, let alone Somalia’s Education Sector, and who still doesn’t understand that the Federal Member States hav exclusive jurisdiction over Education Departments of the states.

It is quite ironic that Somaliland Authorities, who arrest youth and children clad in T-shirts painted in Somali flag, have more staying power, influence over Mogadishu Regime through its unofficial representatives in Mogadishu than Puntland, who considers itself as the main pillar in the re-instatement and reconstruction of the failed state of Somalia.

Political observers had noted that in the case of Puntland representation in Mogadishu, the problem had its roots in the actions of former opportunist ruler and petty despot that had sold out everything dear of Puntland values, leaving behind a mess and a society that had lost hope and vision for the future. That is the challenge the current leaders of Puntland have to meet and fix ASAP.

Puntland’s unlucky representatives within Mogadishu ruling bodies don’t even have the awareness of powerful lobby works by representatives of Northwest Somalia (Somaliland), Southwest State, even Galmudugh.

In the light of the above dire political situation, we recommend that all failed Puntland political representatives in Mogadishu have to tender their resignations enmase and return their Puntland Mandate to the people for another chance to select competent and patriotic persons of higher moral and political standing. Cut the crab and resign all.

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PUNTLAND’S ACHEELS HEELS

Yes, an imperative reform in Puntland Administration is obvious to all and urgently needed. But, where do we start?

The sectors that had become the Achilles Heels of the State of Puntland are:
  1. Finance sector
  2. Security sector
Fix the two sectors, and Puntland would leap foward fast. These two sectors constitute half of Puntland’s entire problems.
Take first, Puntland Ministry of Finance where the management and personnel are on the same jobs for twenty years with 19th century rudimentary knowledge of financial management and that compoundedly streghtened by their chronic resistance to change, upgrading and reform. It is not an exaggeration – I worked with them as Puntland Chief of Staff at State Presidency during the first three years of Puntland foundation. How did they stay that long each one on the same job? That is their most guarded secret. What is it? The Ministry’s Top Management Team had developed and fine-tuned special skills to make sure that every incoming Puntland President and the new Minister of Finance are happy by providing them with unchecked and unaccounted for access to personal funds. But, if that is an open secret, why didn’t Puntland successive regimes do something about it? Good question! Have you heard the Somali word “Madax-ka-nool referring to Puntland governance?” Yes, you guessed – the President is everything in Puntland. He is the country’s minister of finance and cashier-general at same time. He can buy everybody, including the members of the House of Representatives (the Parliament). Then who would check the powers of the President? You tell me. With the financial muscle of the Ministry of Finance he owns the country and its people. You would say that is an exaggeration. You are free to carry out your own enquiries and independent investigations. But, don’t forget to share your findings with me.
But, that is not all. The top management of Puntland Ministry of Finance is the main obstacle and reason why international agencies and world financial institutions are unable to assist Puntland due to Ministry’s lack of transparency and financial accountability. The Ministry keeps secret even Puntland real revenue and expenses. This has created a situation where world community doesn’t know not only how to help Puntland in development projects, budget supplements and personnel capacity-building, but also how to work with the authorities. Puntland books are closed and they are Ministry’s Top Secrets.
Reform immediately that Ministry, and people of Puntland are half free.
Take Security Sector second, and you would discover the hard facts that nobody knows, even approximately, the number of men and women working in or attached to that sector, forget about their training, quality, incapacitation, mortality or even whether the names in ghost lists exist, or ever existed. How do you allocate resources, wages, pay etc? How do organizations in the security sector could assist Puntland improve its security needs? Yes, it is easy to blame others for your failures? But abive all, how do you defend your country when your lists of forces are ghost soldiers? That is why you hear calls for clan militia support whenever Puntland security is threatened.

These are the two critical sectors that require an urgent and radical reform, but the problems described above extend to other sectors and state departments as well.

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(Image credit: Dabaraani Media)

ROADMAP FOR PUNTLAND DENI PRESIDENCY

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By now the President should have in place a major reform package for the State’s suffocating and duplicating bureaucracy. By now the President must have shown his vision as to where he would take Puntland State. By now the President must have committed himself and his administration to a democratization process as the old clan POWER-SHARING arrangement had hit a dead-end and should be discontinued. By now the President should have inspired the people of Puntland for renewal of hope and revitalization of socio-economic life in this part of Somalia. By now the President should have cleared the confusion surrounding on how to move forward in terms of cooperation between Puntland and its international partners. By now the President should have studied the dubious P&O and DP WORLD Bosaso Port contract and clarified Puntland position on whether to revise the infamous contract or discard it all together.

Puntlanders had never seen or shown publicly this suspicious Bosaso Port Deal with the UAE ambitious and aggressive firm, the P&O. The President needs to hire a team of highly experienced business and civil contract lawyers to look into this contract with P&O. And by the way, has President Deni seen that contract? Nobody in Puntland did see that secret document, including the previous members of House of Representatives ( the Parliament), who corruptedly approved the deal.

We see only slow piecemeal steps and occasional visits to various departments in Garowe, but no meaningful announcements or significant undertakings on the part of Deni Administration until to-date. If there is something you know, please share it with us.
By tradition, Puntlanders are extremely patient to wait and give chance to any Puntland incoming administration, but they are anxious this time around to see bold steps and tangible results from President Deni.
Too much time spent on a learning curve indicates the President is not yet ready to govern and would waste the first year of his administration as the 100 days measured in sizing up the President without achieving any major item of his election platform.
Puntlanders’ eyes are on the President to deliver the goods and quickly.
And one final thing: leadership doesn’t operate in the dark. It is about openess or transparency and public guideness

HISTORICAL LESSONS LEARNED FROM PUNTLAND ELECTIONS

https://ismailwarsame.blog/2019/04/09/historical-lessons-learned-from-puntland-elections/

DOES PRESIDENT GAS’ POLITICAL SHOW BUZZ AND IVORY TOWER ATTITUDE HURT PUNTLAND?

DOES PRESIDENT GAS’ POLITICAL SHOW BUZZ AND IVORY TOWER ATTITUDE HURT PUNTLAND?.

IS PRESIDENT GAS’ POLITICAL SHOWBIZ AND IVORY TOWER ATTITUDE HURTING PUNTLAND?

Despite the President’s continuous travels and repeated tours in some parts of the country, while intentionally avoiding some, including those regions considered as his political power-base, and he is highly visible at receptions at Villa Garowe with Somalia’s International Partners, President Gas is politically isolated within a short time into his mandate as he has lost touch with reality in both Puntland and larger Somalia.

This self-imposed political isolation and complacency take place due to the following mistakes of his making:

1. The President chose to surround himself at State House with young novices as his key advisers, who neither have the political skills, education, nor the experience of working in any parts of Somalia, not to mention about having slightest field works in Puntland State of Somalia.

2. The President is incapable of gauging the mood and feeling of ordinary man and women towards his leadership performance in terms of the economy, public order and personal safety.

3. State employees, including security forces are not paid months after months, often triggering off threatening periodical mutiny of forces, ensuing dangerous security situation, and creating an atmosphere of growing popular deep discontents. The President does not treat this precarious situation as a national emergency and priority number one for the very survival and unity of Puntland.

4. The President feels that he knows what is he doing better than anybody else-a superficial Ivory Tower Attitude devoid of any real and on-the-ground political context and smart understanding of current dismal economic and geo-political situation of Puntland.

5. The President clearly enjoys hosting high-level delegations, who continually jet in and out of Puntland with no benefits to deliver to the State, even a small budgetary support for the security sector engaged daily with extremists and militants-the very forces that enabled the so-called “international Partners” to have trouble-free discussions with Puntland authorities inside the country to show-case their engagements with Somalia, and thus diffuse the concerns of their generous Donor countries. Rather than demanding reciprocity and playing ball, the President is enticed with diplomatic niceties, empty, and meaningless receptions in his Office. It is disturbing to see even junior NGOs officers being to driven to the State House rather letting them mind their own business with government departments concerned. One critical fact Abdiweli has to learn about these international organizations is that they are not accountable to anyone. As they are faceless, their promises and statements to their interlocutors mean nothing as they would never honour or deliver on their promises- a black hole Puntland fell into recently. The President often gets busy himself with departmental tasks and mandates- an award tendency to a one-man show exercises.

6. Under the fledgling leadership of President Abdiweli Hassan Ali (Gas), Puntland State has abandoned the on-going Somali National Debate on the re-institution and re-construction of the Somali Republic along the Vision the State of Puntland has been fighting for nearly two decades.

7. Worse of all, it seems that President Gas has no a vague idea of the Mission and Founding Objectives of Puntland State of Somalia. Probably, in his Ivory Tower vanity, he did not bother to browse that Historic Document even briefly. Let us Paraphrase some highlights of these Guiding Principles for his benefit:

1. After many trials and failures of the National Reconciliation Conferences, it became obvious that Somalia could not be re-instated and re-constructed from the “Top-down”. It must be re-instated from “Bottom-up” by the formation of “Building Blocks” (Federal States) producing legitimate and representative leadership to discuss the future governance of Somalia.

2. Puntland State of Somalia is founded with a vision to create an orderly, peaceful and democratic society with the marriage of traditional societal leadership with a modern and efficient administration of statecraft capable of delivering public services, working towards economic self-sufficiency and safe-guarding the security and unity of the State. Puntland State of Somalia is an integral part of Somalia, and would not entertain unilateral secession or independence as an option. Governance system and public institutions would continue to evolve and grow leading to further democratization process, population census, population disarmament, and building strong, credible and lasting public institutions.

3. Puntland State was committed to taking the leadership role required to help credible and representative community leaders from various parts of Somalia engage in constructive dialogue in building constituent regions to form regional states on free will and voluntary basis. The people of Western Galgaduud Region of Central Somalia were invited and had free option to join Puntland State whenever they were ready. In this regard, Puntland would spear-head a National Reconciliation Process leading to the resolution of the legacy of the Civil War, deepening peace and restoring public trust again in a shared government and institutions.

4. Puntland State of Somalia would promote peace and good neighbourliness among the peoples of East Africa, and with Somali neighbour states, in particular.

Based on the narrative above and serious issues raised therein, how does the “scoreboard” of Dr Gas look like? If you live in Puntland State, or closely follow its “state of the union” today, you have every reason to worry about where the country is heading to. Besides the economic calamities besetting the people of Puntland, there is strong lack of political leadership and direction. President Abdiweli Hassan Ali (Gas) is now in a political trap designed by the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s faction in Mogadishu, to politically isolate Puntland, on the one hand, and destabilize it in the Central Somalia front, while welcoming and approaching Somaliland encouragingly, on the other hand. That is on the top of the political Puntland headache on threats to its unity and Sool and Sanaag issue.

It takes leadership to acknowledge one’s mistakes, ask for advice, and listen to the concerns of one’s own constituency attentively. Would he?

Ismail H. Warsame

E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com

Twitter: @ismailwarsame

COSTLY PROTOCOL IRREGULARITIES OF PUNTLAND ADMINISTRATIONS

image001   It has become an intoxication fashion for Puntland successive administration leaders to indulge in prohibitively expensive state receptions and send-off of the head of the Government when-ever he steps out of the Capital or returns to it. Even a short working visit from a region requires mobilization of the entire residents of Garowe for a Welcome Party either to receive the President or to send him off. This entails huge security operations every time there is such an event. All Government and economic activities of the City come to a standstill for a whole working day. Public Schools are closed for the day for students to take part in the huge party at airport. People are required to line up in tightly cramped setting along the narrow sidelines that has no even sidewalks of the only highway passing through Garowe. The single transport road linking up the country from West to East is blocked to movement of goods, services and people for many hours each time the President leaves or come to town. Enormous traffic jumps pile up. Serious auto-accidents often occur. Economic and labour productivities are lost for the entire day. The meagre public funds of Puntland are squandered and wasted. Somali Diaspora websites compete for presence and best angles for media coverage of these frequent “State Parties” and splash on their pages the smiling reception figures with colorful bouquet of flower rings hanging down on their necks. As a result of this thoughtless and never-ending officially sanctioned exercises, Puntland State not only suffers economically, but the misplaced and fashionable enterprise implicitly turns the people of Puntland into serving the President instead of him serving the people. This continuous “State Parties” have to stop immediately. It is unsophisticated, thoughtless and a total waste of public resources and time. It serves only the echo of an insensitive and self-serving leader and the pleasure of sycophants and flatterers in Government circles. When I was there, my team had never entertained the idea of such not only wasteful, but extremely monotonous continuity and tasteless display of governance, or mis-governance, if you would. A minimum number of Government officials, some of the Presidential Staff and security detail, and where and when possible, some foreign delegations to the country, are sufficiently and economically enough to receive or send off the President during some of his many travels. Historically, this abuse of public resources in self-serving public display of Presidential receptions was initiated and widely expanded by Former President Abdirahman Mohamud Faroole. Instead of discontinuing this harmful imposition on the people and cultivation of personality cult, President Abdiweli Ali Gas is now exceeding even the expectation of Faroole. Separation of power into the executive, legislative and judiciary branches are extremely problematic in Somalia. One feels uncomfortable and uneasy when one sees the Speaker of Parliament welcoming or seeing off the President at airports like his Junior Minister. This is an unacceptable and deeply embarrassing to the people of Somalia, to Puntland in particular. Under this circumstance, accountability of Government to the people through the Parliament is irretrievably lost, Parliaments becomes rubber stamp. Checks and balance of power disappear. Corruption and abuses of power become rampant and unchecked. Puntland Parliament should immediately avoid melting and diffusing itself to the Executive Branch. This is a very grave issue (Please see the article “Somalis have to blame only themselves for creating their own dictators”, WDN, Feb. 25, 2013) we all have to watch out and get ready to speak out and do something about it) The above Presidential malpractices lead us to worry about the fate and the future of the democratization and multi-party process in Puntland, in particular, and Somalia’s general elections 2016, in general. I see no sense of urgency within the leadership to re-start the process and correct it where it was bent and failed in the previous administration of President Faroole. The New Administration of President Abdiweli was required, and it pledged to commit itself to it in Day One of taking Office. What one wonders what was happening with regards to the issue of future governance of Puntland? Will it be again on the brink of total collapse or disintegration on the eve of the next Presidential and Parliament Elections as the old founding clan selection process finally stopped to function, satisfy and resolve the tremendous challenges of clan contradictions and stringent demands for modern governance, regionalism and globalization? Puntland State is expected to do better than that. People of Puntland deserve better than that. Finally, the school of thought on Federalism in Somalia’s future governance has been conclusively won now. Proponents and promoters of Federalism have been vindicated after a long and hard-fought political struggle. It seems to me that the Administration of President Abdiweli Ali Gas is not paying the serious attention required by Puntland State to see that a fair and adequately balanced constitutional framework come out of the National Constitutional Review Process by failing to appoint and attach a team of Puntland Constitutional experts to that process. It is not too late yet to do just that. In conclusion, and now in my capacity as a keen observer of Puntland news, I have noted that the New Vice President of the State was not sure of his role in Government and constitutional mandate as the most Senior Advisor of President and that he had no independent opinion apart from that of his own President. The Office of the President is one, not two, and everything the Vice does or says publicly must have the sanction of his Boss and within the mandate of the Constitution. There can be room for confusion in running Government affairs. I guess learning statecraft and adhering to the letter and spirit of the law is hard to swallow in a traditionally nomadic culture. Public statements involving Puntland unity and its policies towards the rest of Somalia, including Somaliland, must be officially formulated and standardized to avoid uncoördinated signals and policy mis-statements at various levels and officials. Ramadan Karim to all! Ismail H. Warsame E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com Twitter: @ismailwarsame

Somalia: They Got It Wrong

By Ismail H. Warsame

“Ultimately it is the Somalis who can solve their own problems” is the desperate and repeated expression often used by the external diplomatic and political actors of Somalia when something didn’t work out as planned, or planned intentionally to fail, after all.  This is another way to concede defeat and shift the blame of failure onto the Somalis themselves. It is also a successful ploy by these foreign actors to justify the continuation of their respective tax-payers’ money contributions to find the elusive solution to the dangerous Somali stateless chaos, rightly acknowledging that Somalia is not only a security threat to itself, but also to the outside world. Their bottom-line strategy on Somalia is to contain, at least, this security menace within Somalia. Such an approach to Somalia’s long-running predicament have been creating a thriving industry that continuously produces good paying jobs and resort-like living luxury existence in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Djibouti and Uganda for expatriates on Somalia’s supposedly dangerous job assignments.

As a man who worked in the field, a witness to most recent events in Somalia, I found quite astonishing that nobody is getting or reading rightly the Somalia’s current root causes of the problem, apart from the legacy of the Military Dictatorship that led to the failure of the National Government. Everybody, including researchers and experts on Somalia is busy with in looking at symptoms of the problem: warlords, the Union of Islamic Courts, Al-Shabab, corruption, piracy …etc. Nobody had ever thought that the instruments and institutions that helped sustain livelihood of the Somali masses in a uniquely failed and stateless situation for such a long time are the same ones that perpetuate the status quo and prevent, at any cost, the creation of a viable institution of governance, especially in Mogadishu.

It is important to note here that one would not see any scholarly references attached to this short article as I was there, in person, to re-tell my own take of developments and events that made the most recent history of Somalia.

It was towards the end of 1996 when I met, for first time, with Mohamed Abdi Habeeb (Mohamed Dheere), the Late Former warlord and former Mayor of Mogadishu of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, in Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the time, he was not a warlord, but a future one for Middle Shabelle Region (Jowhar). He was a member of then the National Salvation Council (SNC), an impressive organization of Somali Warlords sponsored by Ethiopia under the initiative of Late Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in a congress held in the city of Sodere, about 120 Kms to the Southeast of Addis Ababa and within the Oromo Regional state. I was a member of Somali Diaspora in Canada, having spent at that time one and half years in England and mostly in Dubai after I left Canada in 1995. While in Dubai, I was invited by the SNC Co-Chairmen to help in the documentation and office work of the Council in Ethiopia. As the warlord organization was seriously planning and set to hold a congress in Bosaso, the commercial city of Northern eastern Regions in 1997, to announce the election of a new Somali Central Government, one perhaps to be led by Ali Mahdi Mohamed as President and Abdullahi Yusuf as Prime Minister, I was eager to learn more about the political, security and economic events in Southern Somalia and Mogadishu, in particular.

In my conversation with him, Mohamed Dheere was a surprise to me. Although he had no academic credentials to speak of, I found him shrewd, highly intelligent and amazingly knowledgeable about the nature of Mogadishu conflicts at the time. He exposed and gave me his take and analysis of what he termed: “The Mog Forces”. Basically, he informed me that the real and invincible force in Mogadishu are not the warlords in the name of Aidid, Ali Mahdi and others, but a handful of business tycoons in Northern and Southern Mogadishu. The warlords are used and bankrolled by these business titans to prevent any local, regional or national governance in Mogadishu or Somalia. These business giants of ill-gotten riches following the collapse of the Somali State run huge enterprises of telecommunications, money transfer (Hawaala), makeshift seaports, huge warehouses of foreign aid (think of WFP) and its distribution outlets, public transport chains, hotels, import and export businesses, security and protection escorts…  etc, all tax-free. They created their own huge army of militia. They constituted the real power that no other institutions can challenge them, foreign or local. Add to this,  the proliferation of the so-called civil societies under the watchful eyes of these business predators as their clever and invisible channel of communication with the external diplomatic, political and humanitarian organizations, primarily working as double agents within the misery of Somalia at cost of Somalia’s national sovereignty. Warlord alliances like USC/SNA and USC/SSA, SNF, SPM and others continued to operate to add to the Southern chaos for divide and rule purposes along sub-clan allegiance. That was the gist of Mohamed Dheere’s assessment of Mogadishu situation nearly twenty years ago.

Having understood and fully aware of what was happening in Mogadishu and Southern Somalia, in general, the establishment of Puntland took first steps to contain and isolate such business and NGO forces becoming too powerful. Militia organizations of SSDF, USP and SNDU were outlawed and banned for good. Traditional leadership was allowed to drive the governance process and a government based on the consent of its stakeholders was instituted. While the Somaliland Administration of the Late President Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal had an ideological difference with the Somali National Movement (SNM) to politically marginalize it, SNM former members were active and still are behind the scene in Somaliland body politic. They are known as the “Calan Cas” (Red Flag) Group because of their leftist political orientation. In the case of Puntland, former militia organizations are things of the past, and while Puntland lacks behind Somaliland in terms of democratization and multi-party system because of latter’s concerted attempt to attract international recognition and more international aid rather than a result of inherent good governance, there are areas in which Puntland is a way ahead of Somaliland like fair distribution of resources, standard of living of residents, gap between the rich and poor, and even residents’ self-confidence in better future, welcoming and creation of safe heavens and income opportunities for Somali IDPs, regional cooperation and good neighbourliness despite Somaliland unwarranted provocations in Sool and Ayn Regions, and struggle for the re-institution of Somalia’s Central State for the benefit of all, including Somaliland, and in the best interests of all peoples of East Africa and world peace and security, in general.

Recommendations:

It may sound very sad indeed to suggest and recommend now that, given a genuine commitment to fix Somalia, the international community needs to completely re-think Somalia by targeting those forces that prevent Somalia to stand on its feet again and rise up as a less dangerous member of world community. Unfortunately, the only way feasible at moment is to restart resolving Somalia’s problem afresh by identifying the culprits for the failure at local and international levels. Trial and errors approaches on the failed state for the past two decades had become the Sarah Palin ‘ s “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska.

In conclusion, the international community is either ignorant or reluctant to learn one important lesson from former colonial powers of Somalia. When dealing with law and order and governance issues in a given city or region in Somalia, you cannot have a Governor in the same city he/she hails from. Because of the local sub-clan rivalry and conflict, a local governor will be a part of the problem, not its solution. Such a Governor will not have the benefit for playing fair arbitration as he/she is perceived locally to belong to and serve the interests of one of the clan antagonists. A Somali President from Southern Somalia suffers the same perception and fate in Mogadishu. Hence, you also have an additional clan and family conflicts in Mogadishu, on the top of the powerful “Mog Forces”.