Sunday, 22 November 2009

Why Somali Government and Puntland State of Somalia fail to agree? 21 Nov 21, 2009 - 12:06:04 PM


Omar Farah (Dhollawaa)

On 13th of November, 2009, the presidents of Somali Government and the Puntland State of Somalia have conferred at the Somali Embassy, in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim of the conference was to initial an earlier agreement between the Prime Minister of Somalia and Puntland State of Somalia on 23rd of August, 2009 in Galkaio, Puntland. The agreement covers number of issues that pertains mainly in the social and economic development of Puntland. In this context, Puntland has demanded that the financial and social support (education and training etc) that Somalia, as a national State, receives from the international communities should be shared equally by all Somalis including Puntland.

After the Prime Minister’s return to the capital, some kind of noise has started to emerge from the besieged and heavily guarded presidential palace. The noise makers were questioning the contents of the agreement that the Prime Minister have signed in Puntland. In fact, the Prime Minister’s initiative was aimed to bring Puntland on board and justly and equally share with them what the international community provides for the rebuilding of the Somali institutions and the vital infrastructures.

This noise from the besieged palace has created some kind of suspicion in Puntland’s citizen and its policy movers and shakers. To calm everyone, it was the responsibility of the Puntland president Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Faroole to clarify the issue in question and seek the Somali President’s approval of the agreement. This would de-escalate the spiraling suspicion of the Puntland masses who see themselves to be sidelined when it come to all kinds of direct international assistance despite their relative stability and their progressive democratic process.

Unfortunately, Mr. Faroole’s initiative to keep the pieces together was rejected without any rational justification. Now, the question that needs to be answered is what motivates the Somali president to decline to initial the agreement that the president of Puntland State of Somalia has signed with the Somali’s Prime Minister.

So far, unblushingly and publicly, the Transitional Federal Government’s Minister of Information Mr. Dahir Geelle has told to VOA Somali program that the Puntland leader has claimed to be a ‘President’. To be precise and linguistically correct Abdirahman Faroole is the President of Puntland State of Somalia and he was elected by Puntland lawmakers as a president of Puntland State of Somalia on 9th of January 2009 in a free and fair election. Therefore his title is not open for negotiation and he is claiming to be the president of Somalia.

Despite the argument’s irrationality and unacceptability, this argument was not more than ‘a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious’. In fact the ‘obvious’ that President Sharif and his close associates were attempting to ignore can be briefly explained as follows:

* The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has become overanxious to hear existing and viable other authorities when the TFG is faltering and falling apart. Furthermore, some TFG members have the assumption that the existing of a functioning separate State within Somalia is perilous to their AMISOM guarded authority. They privately argued that any other authorities within Somalia, in the eyes of international community; will degrade the legitimacy of Somali Government.
* The backbones and political mentors of Sheikh Sharif, who also helped him to ascend to the presidential seat, are allergic and phobic to Federal system and favor a centralized one. These anti-federalist individuals are apprehensive about the implementation of regional or State governments that will decide, through democratic process, who represented them in the national government.
* The gap of priorities and political growth of Puntland and that of the Transitional Federal Government is too wide and too hard to reconcile. Puntland is relatively progressive and stable semi-autonomous State, where the Transitional Federal Government is physically, socially, politically and economically blockaded entity. Moreover, Puntland’s priority is to develop its territory’s social and economic infrastructures. On the contrary, the Mogadishu based TFG is focused on their daily survival and regrettably social development issues is alien concept to them.

Paradoxically, this is the true epicenter of the dispute between Transitional Federal Government and Puntland State of Somalia. Pragmatically, it could be a political bonus for the TFG to work with Puntland State of Somalia and push the international community to specifically support the stable States. This kind of open advocacy could have a triple benefit for the TFG if they would use wisely. For example, the Transitional Federal Government could bring Puntland State onboard, get credit from the Somali people in general for advocating the development of the others, and their advocacy would psychologically encourage the others to change for the better. Doing the opposite will definitely have a far-reaching negative political impact to the besieged Federal Government.

Unfortunately, it seems that President Sharif and those who claim his ears have other priorities and other political agendas – God may help Somalia.

Omar Farah (Dhollawaa)

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