Recurrent stand-off between FGS and Puntland over Federalism

The recently released communique following the conclusion of Puntland consultative conference mid-March was mutilated and led to the disagreement by the stakeholders of the conference.

During the preparation of the convention, Said Abdullahi Deni, Puntland State leader who was hosting and stewarding the conference called on Puntland stakeholders to participate it saying event would focus on the state affairs. The three-day forum brought together elders, politicians, representatives of the state in the federal government of Somalia.

Following the conclusion of forum, Puntland’s representatives in the FGS opposed the communique issued saying they did not take part during drafting.

During press conference on 20th of this month in Garowe, Ahmed Isse Awad who was among ministers attended the forum said they oppose some of the articles issued in the communique about the federal government and insensitive comments made about other regional states in the country. The minister said the points were not part of the agenda discussed during the conference.

Actually, the forum just backed Puntland’s move to boycott the federal election law, passed by the two Houses of the Somali Parliament, signed by President Farmajo.

The conference also called for the postponement of finalizing the federal constitution of Somalia until new government is formed in 2021.

Contradictory claims by Puntland

Despite claiming that it supports the federalism and being ever-ready for country’s unity as well spearheading efforts to get greater Somalia, in its recently released communique, Puntland opposed some of the backbone issues of the federalism including the Constitutional Review Process as well as other bills which are important for governance. These issues are constitutional rights of the FGS.

The election bill which went through all the requisite process, starting from a draft by the executive arm of the government, endorsed by the legislature and finally signed into law by the president was rejected by Puntland authorities, claiming it was not inclusive.

Puntland authorities who had long been arguing the FGS failed to complete the Constitutional Review Process are once again calling for the postponement of finalizing the federal constitution.

Another controversy is that despite the call by the forum to hold conference for the country’s political stakeholders and subsequent announcement by Puntland leader Said Abdullahi Deni to visit Mogadishu to pave the way for the national conference, Puntland information minister said the motive for the trip of the leader is not to hold talks but to create conducive environment for the upcoming conference, therefore the question need to be asked is, without having talks with the federal leaders, how would it be possible for Puntland to host forum.

Federal government and Puntland

As per the press conference, the communique was not reflecting the discussions during the forum, and this signals that the representatives of Puntland state in FGS were not given chance to take part in discussion over the future of Puntland people because they were not consulted during the drafting of the communique.

This puts question whether Puntland is a member of the Federal government and who represents it in the FGS? if the answer is yes, then, are these who were denied taking part in the drafting the communique not the representatives of Puntland State in FGS.

The federal government comprises of different departments led by individuals from federal member of states, that why the federal government is responsible for the affairs of the country.

Therefore, when criticizing the federal government, one should know that the government is inclusive. So, its decision which based on the Constitution should be abide by.

By perusing all these points, Puntland would realize that the accusations against the federal government are unfounded, it also raises questions asking did Puntland state not entrust its representatives in FGS with trustable individuals. If Puntland is not okay with its representatives in FGS then it should wait their (representatives) mandates to end so that it would select others.

What should Puntland do

Puntland is second oldest regional State after Somaliland. Since its formation 22 years ago, Puntland had struggled and campaigned for adoption of federalism. The Horn of Africa nation adopted the federalism but the type of the federalism has not yet been agreed upon though the process is still ongoing and carried out by Somali government.

Despite being one of the oldest states yet Puntland has same rights with all other regional states in the country, according to the provisional constitution of Somalia. Therefore, it should know whatever it strives for and gets, should also be given to other states, meaning that it is hard for her to get special dividend.

For instance, Puntland normally argues that it will not accept the outcome of Somalia and Somaliland talks claiming it should be discuss with as it is Somaliland’s closest neighbor but this is weak claim because the country is ruled by the federal government and has the responsibility to engage talks with anyone.

Puntland also asks for more powers in terms of education claiming that it should be given authority to run its separate education system but by fulfilling its demand, will also open door of dealing with other regional states to run their education systems independently which is not possible.

The regional State in northeastern Somalia had previous inked deals with foreign countries like UAE without the consent of federal government.

Puntland also have its own forces while the national forces do not operate in its state, meaning Puntland looks more of independent state than a federal member state.

If all regional states table as more demands as Puntland state, then the federal government will have no power to rule the nation.

For full adoption of federalism, Puntland state which sometimes calls itself mother-of-regional states should come clear and be sincere about the implementation of the federalism.

But by continuing the manner of competing with the federal government as foreign nation, could plunge the nation into anarchy and lead the rise of small regional states with no central power.

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