By Adam Mohamed,
April 03, 2016
President of Puntland State of Somalia, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas
In February 2106, I published a short article titled “Puntland is experiencing a crisis of leadership, not an electoral dispute with the Federal Government” and highlighted the challenges facing Puntland and why a crisis of leadership was the cause of all the increasing misfortunes. I also stressed the growing distrust of Gaas in Puntland and called for a change of guard if Puntland was to overcome its challenges.
This short article serves as an extension. The indecisiveness and the poor leadership of President Abdiweli Gaas are uncovered verifying that indeed Puntland is experiencing a crisis of leadership.
For the last few months and as far back as September 2015, the Somali Federal Government and people have been occupied with finding a path to continue building on their political process. Public consultations and the re-instatement of the 2011-2012 Roadmap signatories (renamed the National Leadership Forum) gave the country great momentum to advance dialogues on many controversial issues.
So many contentious issues including the Constitutional Review and Implementation Process, Fiscal Federalism of which resource sharing and division of Federal and Regional State Powers is a top, and Integration of the Somali National Army have been under discussion. However, at center stage came the debate on the electoral process for 2016.
We have all followed the numerous consultative meetings across the country and the efforts of the Federal Government, international partners and regions entities in finding a harmonious election option based on the principles of enhancing legitimacy and transparency. In the end, the public consultations did not bare fruits.
Nonetheless, the Somali people domestically and abroad continued to have faith and a desire to see their country move forward. As a minimum, every Somali expected elections to take place no matter the circumstances or which electoral model was eventually settled on. This alone meant that progress was being made—however slow.
Public anxiety increased with every so-called National Leadership Forum convened in Mogadishu, then Kismayo and conclusively in Mogadishu. The process stalled at several junctures and ultimately divided the Somali people along political interests. The back and forth talks became unproductive and demoralizing.
The issue of the 4.5 clan power sharing formula took center stage. Proponents reasoned on grounds of security and that there is no an agreeable electoral model. Therefore, the status quo should continue. The opponents contended for options that increased credibility, transparency, and greater public voice. They argued that there must be progress towards universal suffrage.
The debates, conferences and consultations have all been engaging until the differences of public opinion on the electoral model. What is disheartening is the misleading and certainly the hypocrisy of President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas on the position and negotiation grounds of Puntland State.
Beginning at the second National Leadership Forum of December 2015, President Gaas begun proclaiming that a clan based 4.5 electoral model for Somalia was unacceptable. He stated so in his speech at this forum and the subsequent platforms. Across Somalia, though overwhelmingly in Puntland regions, the Somali people began to consider the possibilities of new and progressive electoral options.
President Abdiweli Gaas became even more a hardliner as he appealed for public support on the matter. More and more public supported the President’s position to reject a clan based electoral model. Conversely, it should be noted that some analysts believed that President Gaas, personally supported and endorsed the 4.5 optino but could not publicly do so due to a strong political opposition in Puntland.
At the last Mogadishu meeting of the National Leaders Forum, President Abdiweli Gaas underscored his position, personally and based on the view of his constituency that he strongly opposed the 4.5 electoral model.
The President returned to Garowe with strong views on this issue and organized public demonstrations in support of his position. The public gave him all the support possible. President Gaas enjoyed the alarming approval rates he gained from this issue and after exhausting the domestic support travelled abroad to North America. Somalis came out in thousands to stand with him. It was at these celebrations that the President decreed, “We shall not accept 4.5 even if our challengers bring United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon with them”. It seemed as though the debate on the matter was over! Alas, it only intensified.
Right after President Abdiweli’s returned from the misleading victory lap in North America, a delegation of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid travelled to Garowe to confer with President Gaas. After one week of meetings, it appears that President Gaas was all along a supporter of the 4. 5 electoral model. This afternoon, President Abdiweli is signing a face-saving agreement with the Federal Government and the International Community to end the deceitful posture and allow Somalia to move forward.
I wonder why President Gaas hoodwinked the People of Puntland? What possessed President Gaas to hold Somalia hostage for over eight months? What is it with the hypocrisy of Abdiweli Gaas? Can Abdiweli be trusted anymore? Will the President apologies for the blatant lies? What does the future hold for Abdiweli Gaas?
These are the questions Somalis on social media and analysts on Somalia issues are trying to answer. Only time will tell.
The author, Mr. Adam Mohamed is a leadership expert, policy analyst and a freelance writer. He can be reached at: [email protected]