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Puntland is undermining federalism in Somalia

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For a  region that claims to be the mother of Somali federalism, it looks like Puntland is doing everything it can to dismantle Somali federalism. The actions that were taken by Deni administration in closing the federal election commission office in Garowe and the call for the re-evaluation of Puntland’s ties to the Federal Government are detrimental to Puntland’s ultimate goal, which is to create a prosperous and peaceful Somalia.  It is not clear if Puntland’s actions are by design or if it is simply a lack of understanding by the elite in regards to what federalism entails.


What is federalism?


The Western form of governance is still an alien concept to us, Somalis, even to this day. As a society, prior to 1960, we have never been under one legal authority so it is only natural we have a little appreciation for the Westphalian idea of a nation-state let alone the complexities of a federation form of governance.


Governments are defined through power structures namely confederation, federation and unitary system.  A confederation is a union of sovereign states created through an act of a treaty. A federation is a union of partially self-governing states or provinces which comes under one central government. Finally, there is the unitary system which allows the central government to have supreme authority on all matters whether it is at the local level or the central level.  A less talked about the system is anarchy where all systems of government and institutions have ceased to exist. Luckily for Somalis, we are moving away from complete anarchy and inching towards what in reality looks like a confederation.


The source of power for these forms of government can come from autocracy where power is concentrated in one person, democracy where people choose leaders through direct voting and oligarchy where powers are in the hands of few people.

If an impartial and dispassionate person was to assess the current political situation in Somalia, one can reasonably argue Somalia is run by oligarchs as the citizens have no say in electing their leaders.
There are 15 or so countries in the world where a federation is the primary form of governance. A close examination of these countries shows that there has always been a tug of war between the center and the periphery. This war revolves around the allocation of power between the states and the federal government. Fortunately for these entities, disagreements are settled through their constitutional mechanisms or through their courts. However, despite this constant friction between states and the federal government, there is no federal country in the world where state governments usurp the powers of the federal government. There can be policy disagreements but such disagreements are resolved through the court systems and through the legislative branch which can create new or revised the old legislations.


What sort of governance does Puntland want?


As it stands now, Puntland is a country within country. It only preaches federalism but it does not practice it. It has its own foreign policy and armed forces. Puntland collects no taxes for the federal government. It is in an essence an unrecognized sovereign country. It wants to reap the benefits of federalism but not honor its obligations. Allocating power between the states and federal government means allocating responsibility, do Puntland leadership understand there could no power allocated to them if they don’t carry out their responsibilities?


Puntland is encroaching on the Federal Government’s areas of responsibilities but it has failed to meet its own responsibility. In the time it existed, Puntland has not built hospitals, schools, roads and housing for the poor. It has not done much to curb corruption. It has yet to implement any democratic reforms. To this day, mayors and governors are appointed by Garowe. The citizens have not been given an opportunity to elect their local, state and federal representatives. Their Puntland presidency itself is chosen by MPs who were selected by tribal chieftains. The process of choosing the president is fraught with corruption.


Who represents Puntland at the federal level?


The rules and norms of federalism dictate the interest of a state is protected by its elected representatives or in our case, the selected parliamentarians and senators. The state executive branch can lobby for its interests but it is the representatives of the state that are legal conduits. In other words, it is the likes Senator Abdirahman Farole and Senator  Abdirizak Jurile to advance the interests of Puntland and the country at a large or oppose any legislation that they deem unfair. President Deni can express his displeasure but he is no position or should no position to hinder or oppose the federal government’s agenda at every turn. If Puntland is not happy with its current crop of representatives, it has the power to replace them through elections and other legal mechanisms.


Gaa dil gartiisana sii


Despite obstruction streak, Puntland does have legitimate grievances. This biggest one is the provincial constitution whose completion process has been dragging for a long time. Both Farmajo and Xasan Sheikh administrations failed to address this issue. The Farmaajo has less than a year to finalize the constitution. Though the Federal Government claims that it has consulted every region, the reality is the government has not made the constitution a top priority. It is not clear who much input was the regional governments, civic organizations. religious group, the youth and other stakeholders are given.


Another grievance that is shared by other states and opposition parties is the lack of constitutional court. Puntland and others have opposed the election and petroleum laws but the federal government has the right to pass any legislation where the regional governments like or not. However, there should be a high court or constitutional court where the states and in fact the average can challenge the legality of any legislation. The most important grievance by Puntland and this is shared by many Somalis is the lack of sincere reconciliation process. The federal government has no made effort in reconciling the people of Somalia. The horrible civil war has left many victims. These victims need justice and closure.


And finally, Puntland and others are right in pointing out that the Federal Government has no right involving itself in regional. The local elections are within purview of the states. The Federal Executive Branch and opposition parties can field their own candidates, the process belongs to the states. Any mismanagement and discrepancies of a local election can be litigated through the courts or be addressed through legislation as long as such legislation does not violate the constitution.


What now?


President Deni has called Puntand’s federal representatives back to Garowe for consultation. He called for a grand conference. I welcome this initiative.  If the purpose of the conference is to find a solution to the current impasse, I hope Puntland would invite other regional leaders, opposition parties and other stakeholders. The endeavor of this conference should be about finding a workable solution to Somalia’s political crisis. Puntland and all parties must come up with solutions, a better alternative to what the Federal Government is doing. However, it must understand any proposed solution that can not undermine the federation arrangement and it is to not usurp the federal government’s constitutionally mandated powers.


To President Deni 


It has been rumored the late President Abdullahi Yusuf expressed regret in picking up the gun against the Barre regime. I am not actually sure if this is true or not. Abdullahi and others who set up rebel groups to overthrow Siyad Barre’s dictatorship ended up destroying the Somali state itself, a place of refuge for the Somali nation. The question becomes would your actions destroy the recovering Somali state or would they usher a new prosperous republic.

 

 

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Poor Puntland gets blamed for everything under the sun from all sides.

They must have done and still doing something right.

Puntland faces so much treachery from every angle.

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1 hour ago, Old_Observer said:

Poor Puntland gets blamed for everything under the sun from all sides.

They must have done and still doing something right.

Puntland faces so much treachery from every angle.
 

They have chewed more than they can swallow. 

The Pirate boys see the end coming. Their best days are surely and truely behind them. When they called the shots in South Somalia, not because they were any better, but because there was nothing else in South to compare it against to in terms of administration. Those days  are coming or have come to an end. 

As Mogadishu assumes more control and specially the H-clan builds its area in terms of Administration and infrastracture. It translates more power and more influence, a direct correlation to Puntland's declining political influence and deminising econimic and military prowess. 

There is almost next to zero for Pirate boys to bargain with Mogadishu. Probably a realisation that they are coming to terms with. They offer Mogadishu almost nothing either by way of influence on the ground in the deep South or by influence on regional dynamics. 

They may try to jump from the frying pan and into the fire by trying to go alone, something some of their intellectuals have been dipping their toes in and out and some of their diaspora have entertained wholeheartedly. It is a dead-end though. 

The curtins is closing down. How soon and how fast, is the question really. 

 

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23 minutes ago, Suldaanka said:

They have eaten more than they can chew. 

The Pirate boys see the end coming. Their best days are surely and truely behind them. When they called the shots in South Somalia, not because they were any better, but because there was nothing else in South to compare it against to in terms of administration, is coming to and end. 

As Mogadishu assumes more control and specially the H-clan builds its area in terms of Administration and infrastracture. It translates more power and more influence, a direct corellation to Puntland's declining political influence and deminising econimic and military prowess. 

There is almost next to zero for Pirate boys to bargain with Mogadishu. They offer Mogadishu almost nothing either by way of influence on the ground in the deep South or by influence on regional dynamics. 

The curtins is closing down. How soon and how fast, is the question really. 

 

LOL

I have never seen someone reword the same sentiment so many times. Your first paragraph would suffice but it looks like that gave you some catharsis.

  • Haha - That was funny. You made me laugh! 1

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Suldaanka,

But there is no nail to hammer.

Puntland has always options. Its just a matter of reurn on investment.


As long as Somaliland exists the same way, Puntland is critical for both Somalia and Somaliland.

You do not want to Push them South and the South does not want to push them North. That is a fact of life which has been the reality past 30 years and last 20 years openly and clearly.

They can also simply choose UAE and follow through and never hesitate about Mugadishu choices and games. UAE will be more than happy to break the sympathy to Djibouti that is obvious.

Ethiopia cannot harm Puntland. Its never in Ethioias interest, who ever is in power.


Its also easy for Puntland to play games if it comes to it, against Faarmajo. That is easy if it comes to it.


Your peace if not your existence is affected by what happens in Puntland. This is what Ghelleh used to say about Kililka, before he rearranged things from his border to Dirdhaba.

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Oodweyne   

Old_Observer,

I agree with Suldaanka, in the sense that Puntland is really in the middle of a rock and hard place at least for now. And it's in that sense, particularly so long as Mr Abby Ahmed who is in camp with Mr Farmaajo is in the show in Addis-Ababa. And that in turn means, politically speaking Puntland is in a tight and bothersome spot. 

Secondly, so long as they have no extensive economical connection with Ethiopia the way in which Somaliland has (through Berberra port and through Berberra corridor to the Killilka), and the way in turn Djibouti has with Ethiopia already, then they will also be economically in danger if and when economically powerful region(s) emerged in the south of them. Particularly one which has a modern and international standard port of the kind Berberra can be soon enough. 

Third, politically speaking, the days in which Pirate-land used to say our way or the highway is over in Mogadishu. And this the elites of this fiefdom know it. Which is why they may be about to throw their last "ultimate dice" of a political kind into the table.

So we shall see. But in all sense the political picture is really bleak for Pirate-land at least for now. 

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