President Deni should not waste political capital

Garowe ( PPM) – The three-day consultative conference concluded in Garowe yesterday had produced a result that may help President Said Abdullahi Deni to strike a deal with the Federal Government of Somalia. He accepted invitation from the Federal Government to visit Mogadishu. In the communique read out at the end of the conference a mention was made of a plan of President Said Deni’s to visit administrative capitals of Federal members States.

This plan is all the more discouraging. It smacks of a return to haphazard policy-making that characterised Deni administration during the first year of his tenure. In the first interview upon winning Garowe Presidency Deni vouched for the significance of Council of Interstate Cooperation formed by his predecessor to exert political pressure on the Federal Government. The Council faltered after Hirshabele and  South West State  showed less interest in supporting an agenda of a  different Federal Member state aimed at making Puntland State stand out as preeminent Member State.

One of the weaknesses in the consultative conference turned out to be the failure to address the myriad challenges – the status of Bosaso Port Agreement with  DP World, the failure to  rein in runaway corruption still being perpetrated by people associated with the previous administration for example – in Puntland.

The consultative conference has taken a leaf from the posturing of the former Puntland President Abdiweli M. Ali, who in 2016 refused to sign up to the electoral plan of the Federal Government but then signed the notorious 4.5-based plan used to conduct the 2017 elections in Mogadishu.

Is President Deni seeking to reintroduce the Council of Interstate Cooperation?

The contrast between the strongly worded communique and the sudden change of Puntland State government policy to compromise in favour of close relations with the Federal Government might help Deni to retain the privilege to select the new cohort o Puntland MPs and Senators for 2021 elections and have input into the federal cabinet appointments. It is not clear if the Federal Government will accept such a proposal. Puntland may invoke the 1998 Charter again to claim federal representation privileges of constituencies in the Disputed Territories. The new electoral law passed in December empowers a committee to resolve disputes on parliamentary  and Senate seats.

Puntland can no longer promote itself as the Spokesperson of Federalism in Somalia when the Garowe-based administration opposes decentralisation and political accountability at the local level. Puntlanders understand that one form of centralisation is not better than another. The credibility gap in pro-federalism claims predisposes every Puntland administration to waste political capital too early.  President Said Deni should not be repeating that political misjudgment.

© Puntland Post Monthly, 2020