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Demystifying the Myth of the Puntland Diaspora Forum

by Ahmed Adan (Sooldaad)
Monday September 16, 2019

Allow me to deconstruct this myth and Ill-conceived article: Federal Government of Somalia Destabilizes the Federal Member States of Somalia, published at Hiraan online. To start with, I neither subscribe to any camp, whether the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) or opposition groups. However, I analyse this as a concerned citizen of Somalia, an advocate of the unitary system and as someone who hails from Puntland (PL). The central dichotomy between Members of Federal States (MFS) and FGS revolves around misinformation and misrepresentation of the provisional constitution, and this article will shed light on these contradictions.

Acting as a rejoinder to the so-called ‘OPEN LETTER [by] Puntland Diaspora Forum’, a non-existent forum that acts as a cover for a number of interest groups, this piece attempts to dissect and respond to the allegations portrayed in the article. After that, this piece will expose how PL failed to play her part in preserving the cohesion of Somalia as a viable nation-state. 

First, unfounded claim that the FGS wants to“the federal system into a centralised one with all the power concentrated in his hands” has been reiterated ad nauseam.This narrative has been propagated by the members of the elite ruling class of Puntland who utilise fearmongering tactics to maintain the status quo of the current system. In contrast, since its inception, Puntland has failed to move from a tribal enclave into a functioning democratic system, and to scale down the bogus federalism they said are advocating for; hence, they resort blaming others. This concern is directed towards incompetent PL parliamentarians (both national and state-level) and the ruling elite. For instance, last year, inbroad daylight and with everyone’s knowledge, PL authority has distributed money to state MPs in return to sell national treasure, i.e. port of the state to a foreign private company.

Second, federalism doesn’t mean its members can act as a sovereign state, absent of oversight to the institutions at the federal level. Nowhere in the world will you observe a sitting PM seeking permission to visit a member state that is under his government’s jurisdiction. The city Galkayo is in Somalia and the Somali PM doesn’t need to liaise with anyone to visit Somali cities apart from communicating to the local administration for protocol reasons. PL failed to honour PM’s wish to visit the city for political gain, and thence he acted as it was necessary to liaise private citizen. Again, by saying “Puntland closed its borders to visitors”, who are the visitors PL purporting to stop? Are they coming from Kenya or Ethiopia? No doubt, such misinformation is aimed at misleading the masses and portraying Somali FG as the rival and equal to PL.

Third, the article claims that “[t]here is a genuine concern in Puntland that changing the status quo in Galmudug could have a serious repercussion in Puntland”. This concept is an apparent misrepresentation, and it’s far from the truth that PL has the interest of Galmudug (GM) state at heart and at the same time wants to adhere to the provisional constitution. GM doesn’t fulfil the requirement stipulated to stand as a member of the federal state.  Article 49, No 6 of the provisional constitution states that “two or more regions may merge to form a Federal Member State”. It’s a flagrant violation of the constitution. However, how has it happened in the first place? It was as a result of Farole, the then PL president, who rushed to recognise GM state when it was part of Galkayo alone and disregarded the provisional constitution at whim, in a bid to frustrate the FGS at the time.

Fourth, the article asserts that the “PM spent considerable time shuttling between the various cities and towns of Galmudug and other clan centres in the State to be mandated to have a hand in the selection of the next leader of the State.”
Nobody can deny how GM got wandered-away in representing its people. However, the stray was a result of two folds: (a) ineptness and lack of buy-in from its elite; and (b) meddling from outside. In the latter, to colour-in the eyes of many and point the problem finger towards the FGS besides the help of foreign Gulf States, PL has endeavoured to juxtapose the FMS against FGS and purported the infamous contention that the FGS only controls ten per cent of the country. So, in short, GM was one of the parts being put-together by PL to go against the FGS. As a result, some members of its elite felt they side-lined and then triggered fragmentation the GM systems, which sparked into three polities: Cadaado function (backed-up by the FGS), president Haaf and Ahlu-Sunna-Wajama function at Dhusamareb (see also the Secretary-General on Somalia report: S/2019/393).

Both the Somalis and international community welcomed the work of the PM Kheyre, which self-styled elites of PL claimed as a “shuttling between the various cities”. Instead, it was observed as a commendable and praiseworthy by many. For example, while approving his work, the international community supported and announced a string of memos by saying: “Somalia’s international partnerswelcome the opening of the Galmudug Reconciliation Conference convened in Dhusamareb.” (2) Equally so, the Somalis across the globe and rival functions in Galmudug, in particular, have appreciated Galmudug Reconciliation Conference spearheaded by him and convened in Dhusamareb and thus regarded the PM’s work as a remarkable. Instead, of upholding the law, PL is at the forefront in undermining the constitution. Therefore, PM is trying hard to salvage GM state from the ruins of a militia-controlled fiefdom and turn into a fully flagged member state.

Fifth, the letter argues that “[S]FG has put strenuous effort on Jubaland where it is trying to replace the current leader with one of its choice. The consequence of these underhand activities by the FG could make the federal system effectively obsolete, unless it is countered by the collective effort of the member states. This assertion consists of two elements that are built on additional delusions and misconceptions; (a) in support of the whitewash the coronation of Mr Madobe; (2) luring societal fear intended as a call for further fragmentations of Somalia.

In the former, Mr Madobe’s tenacity towards accommodating stakeholders of Jubaland (JL) and not accepting FGS role to supervise election is a testimony of what’s wrong in this country. Let’s put emotion and sensational arguments aside and face reality on the ground. Kismayo is part and parcel of Somalia and whoever wants to lead has to have the interest of the Somali people at heart. Furthermore, the indigenous people of JL have to have a say and play a part in the process of electing their leaders within the framework of the constitution. In contrast, he is collaborating with Kenya to undermine the sovereignty of Somalia, and he has been used as a tool to subvert the Somali government. Whatsoever shortcoming FGS has, Mr Madobe has lost the moral compasses, and thus no one with a sound mind can blame the FGS. In the latter, the Puntland’s crocodile tears to entice sympathy from other MFS and ordinary folks in these constitutions lead fear towards FGS, which thus ends in hatred. If not kept in check, that hatred, in turn, will bread destruction and further fragmentations of the country.

More to the point, the fear-mongering myth that Farmajo wants to take us back to old days and he wants to create the defunct unitary system that was overthrown nearly thirty years ago” and so has to be challenged and stopped. Instead, let us talk about how devolution of power and distribution of wealth within Puntland. How are ordinary people’s taxes utilised? Is there an effective justice system and good governance in place? Puntland became a protectorate solely owned by one family, and Puntland diasporas forum dared to challenge such abuse of power and champion the democratisation of the PL. 

Having divulged the ill-advised authors’ letter, above, to which, convincingly was fashioned by PL elites. Allow me to delineate further how the PL has infringed the provisional constitution with an intention aimed at Somalia not to return in the world stage or even in the region as a viable state.

First, Chapter 5 Article 54 of the provisional constitution of the federal government stipulates that the FGS has the monopoly legitimacy in matters concerning (a) Foreign Affairs (b) National Defence (c) Citizenship and Immigration (d) Monetary Policy. Nonetheless, it’s the PL elites who have been contravening the laws of the country regularly, particularly Article 54 of the provisional constitution. For example, PL bypassed the FGS by establishing despicable deals with a foreign country: UAE and cheaply handing-over the Bossaso port to the infamous sheikhs. Crises Group (2018) wrote: “A subsidiary of DP World later signed a contract with local authorities in the Somali federal state of Puntland to develop Bossaso port. The attitude, as one Emirati official put it, became “fill space, before others do.”

Second, when Farmajo and Kheyre came into the office, there were significant accords between the FGS and MFS. Among others, the different levels of the Somalis have agreed-upon ways to share resources and integrate forces in April 2017 in Mogadishu (followed by National Security Architecture – London) and Baydhaba Resource Sharing Conference in February 2018 respectively. However, PL, since its birth, it always wanted to frustrate national societal cohesiveness, and thus, PL has spearheaded in derailing the above efforts by rejecting or, as AllAfrica put it “severities” between the government levels. Bewilderingly, PL has been in the habit of putting abnormal conditions to the federal level by suspending to working with the FGS, as it did in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019.

Third, stemming from the Security Architecture (agreed at London Conference in 2017), the FGS and FMS states have the consent of each FMS and Banadir region to bring in three thousand men and women for the formation of the cohesion Somali National Army (SNA). However, PL imagined the move as a threat of the status quo and that could potentially unite the nation. Hence, Puntland with JL which she influenced rejected to implement the proposal and, instead asked FGS to fund them. But, to what extent would the PL benefit by cutting ties with the FGS? In a nutshell and answering this question, Inside Somalia website wrote: “Puntland and other regional states have continued to engage with the UAE separately as they receive funding and other benefits from the Gulf country, illustrating the weakness of Somali federalism as Mogadishu holds little leverage to force its constituent states to adhere to a unified policy”.

Finally, FGS and Somaliland (SL) are now contemplating (though in approaches) ways in which they could negotiate whether the SL reunite or secede rest of Somalia. For the reason that the FGS and Somaliland council of ministers revealed individuals of the committees representing them and conditions for the talk respectively. Puntland, with no doubt, has a stake in the matter and can rightly claim that it has to have a role in the upcoming negotiations. However, to weaken or ruin the credibility of the FGS (as it does always), it has once again chosen taking the typical journey: rejecting the FGS’s committee that was assigned to talk with Somaliland and, offering parallel talks with the SL unilaterally.

To wrap up, paradoxically, PL enjoys equal representations within the FGS’s institutions: both houses of the representatives; cabinet ministers and civil servants. Also, PL rightly claims that she is a part of the Somali state.In contrast, however, PL does not recognise or require separate negotiations if any decision is reached within these institutions. Therefore, this piece suggests the PL elites reconsider the followings:

1.      As we cannot have our cake and eat it, PL has to re-examine and scale down the federalisms to the lower levels. That is to say; PL should allow peoples in the districts, villages and other clans everything that she is asking or conditioning to the FGS;

2.      To select/elect reliable agents to the institutions in the federal level and thence accept accords reached nationally;

3.      To acknowledge that misleading PL populace and Somalis at large benefits to none. In its place, PL elites should recognise that the attainment of the interests of a part should be realised within the interest of the whole (Somalia), and thus the piece urges the PL elites to exert a win-win situation in the affairs of the different levels of the state.

Ahmed Adan (Sooldaad): [email protected]
Mr Adan Sooldaad is a scientist by profession; holding BSc and MSc of public health, who also is passionate in following about the contemporary affairs of Somalia, HOA and region.


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