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Former Somali Premier Threatening Instability in Puntland

Former Somali Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali

Sultan Ismail
Saturday, November 10, 2012

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As a non-partisan concerned Puntlander in the diaspora, I listened in dismay, like many of my peers, to the gross exaggerations and outright fabrications espoused by the esteemed former Prime Minister of Somalia, and current Member of Parliament in the Federal government, Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

The former Prime Minister honorably served his nation at a time of great turmoil (including the devastating famine of 2011) and during the height of Al-Shabaab’s terror reign through the southern half of the country. We can add to his many noteworthy accomplishments his role in the defeat and pacification of this menace from most of the country. It is because of his accomplishments that so many in the Puntland region admired and respected MP Abdiweli, so it is wholly disappointing to witness as the MP, who many of us saw as a pacifist and an agent of peace, stirring up controversy and participating in the incitement of instability in the state.

Many people, including the President of Puntland, welcomed MP Abdiweli’s return to the region. His arrival marked a historic moment in Somali history as he became the first Member of Parliament to visit his constituency in the largely unstable country.

Instead of using this great opportunity to listen to the needs of his constituency and champion those needs in Mogadishu as any good MP should, Abdiweli instead opted to depict an inaccurate picture of Puntland, mislead public opinion, and antagonize the administration in Garowe. Abdiweli’s entire statement was political in nature.

Not once did he address the actual needs of his community. Not once did he mention the multitude of social, economic, and environment challenges members of his constituency face on a daily basis. Not once did he mention the hundreds of students from the region who qualified for Turkish scholarships and who are now stranded in Mogadishu because their allocated scholarships were stolen from them. Regrettably, he chose instead to delve into local politics and manufacture an image of an oppressive state, grappling with security issues, where dissenting voices are silenced… all of this despite being able to travel the length of the state unharmed and while holding a press conference, which was covered by various media outlets, in the second largest city of Puntland. The irony is not lost to me.

Soon after Abdiweli’s press conference, the government had one of their own where they levied several accusations against him including his hand in the blocking of assistance to Puntland and hindering the advancement of region during his term in office as Prime Minister of Somalia.

Just today, MP Hussein Khalif, who represents that same constituency as MP Abdiweli in the Federal government, issued his own statement that paints an entirely different picture of the current realities in Puntland. In his harshly worded statement, MP Khalif indicated that during his trip he did not hear of or experience any of the difficult MP Abdiweli claims to have and stated his belief that MP Abdiweli’s comments were derived from Abdiweli’s desire to run for political office in Puntland. So which is it?

Is Puntland a state in crisis? A state that is undemocratic, corrupt, and repressive? Or did MP Abdiweli make these claims for his own reasons?

The root of the discussion here surrounds the extension of the government’s term for another year. The decision was not unilateral in nature, but is set in the constitution (submitted to the Puntland Parliament in 2008) which sets a five-year term for President and Members of Puntland Parliament. The Puntland Constitutional Conference, which took place on April 2012, was attended by a delegation from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) sent by Abdiweli in his capacity as Prime Minister, members of the civil society, provincial delegates, traditional elders, Islamic scholars, media organizations and foreign dignitaries. All observed as the 480 representatives from all districts of the region overwhelming voted to pass the constitution.

The elders MP Abdiweli claims to have consulted prior to issuing the statement, who have so far remained unnamed, all not only supported the new constitution but stated their full confidence in the ability of Puntland’s current administration to move the state to multiparty elections.

So what exactly has changed from April to now? Since April, MP Abdiweli lost his bid for Presidency in Mogadishu and failed to gain a position in the current administration. Prior to his arrival in Puntland, there was no ‘political crisis’ to speak of. The government did have its opposing figures, as all governments do, but the opposition was confined to two disgruntled individuals who served as cabinet ministers in the previous administration of Mohamed Musa Hirsi (the government that produced the very constitution they now oppose), and were later sidelined by President Farole for their notorious corruption. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Rumors are abound of an alliance being formed between these unscrupulous characters and MP Abdiweli.

The past week has painted a picture of an Abdiweli that many of us are not familiar with. Prior to the fiasco of yesterday, many of us would have loved to see Abdiweli as the President of Puntland, riding to victory on a wave of hope and change much like Barack Obama did in 2008. Now, however, if MP Abdiweli declares his intention to compete for the highest office in Puntland, he will look like a shameless self-promoter no different from the many before him.

This is not to say Puntland is without problems. It most certainly could do with a lot of improvement, but the events that have unfolded over the past week have shown that in this contest of egos one voice has been continuously drowned out – that of the people of Puntland. What is needed now is not division, but unity. Just yesterday the administration welcomed a delegation from the Democratization Steering Committee to discuss the on-going democratization process in the region. We must support the current administrations’ commitment to bring free and fair elections to the region.

Instead of stirring up passions, manufacturing social and political fragmentation and attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the state, what was needed from Abdiweli was to encourage people to support their government in their commitment to see this arduous task of democratization through. The alternative Abdiweli poses of elections in January 2013 would mean a return to clan-based elections and postponement of multiparty elections for another term (until December 2017).

Simply put, it is an alternative that those of us who want to see representative democracy in Puntland cannot accept. Puntlanders want real democracy now. One person, one vote one vote cannot wait, Puntland cannot wait.

Sultan Ismail,
Dissident Nation Contributor


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