By Liban Ahmad

Garowe ( Commentary ) — The ongoing power struggle between Puntland State President Said A. Deni and Vice President Ahmed Elmi raises questions about the efficacy Puntland Constitution, which has its origins in 1998 Charter. Vice President Ahmed Elmi refers to the Constitution when he criticises President Said Deni for not consulting the Office of the Vice President about appointments.  President Deni interprets “consultation” as notification.  Both Deni and Ahmed Karaash have sound arguments against each other.

Is the presidency-controlled Puntland Parliament the venue to settle questions that require constitutional interpretation?  A second complication arises from Puntland electoral system based on a shared mandate. MPs elect the President and Vice President. When a Puntland presidential candidate chooses a running-mate,  an agreement to prevent power struggle, though not enforceable, does not get attention in the political programme of the Presidential Hopeful.  Only the Presidential Candidate has a political programme although the position of the Vice President is heavily contested.

President Deni did not expect Ahmed Karaash as his Vice President. It was a bolt from the blue. When an elected President is forming Puntland Council of Ministers, he seeks the the input of the Vice President. Puntland does not have political parties that could enable a presidential candidate to form a bond with influential party members whom he can appoint as Ministers and Vice Ministers after winning the election.

Karaash (left) and Deni (right) have a shared mandate under the presidency-controlled Puntland Parliament

Puntland is partly based on a customary law. Traditional leaders select MPs, who elect the President and Vice President. The hybrid nature of Puntland political system weakens the role of the Supreme Court. The Parliament of Puntland is where the dispute between the President and Vice President of Puntland will be settled. The Vice President stands little chance of weathering the Vote of Confidence storm against him. The Parliament does not interpret Puntland Constitution. It may debate the motion from the presidency accusing the Vice President of lack of cooperation with the Puntland President.       When Puntland Presidency had fallen out with the former Speaker of Puntland Parliament, the result was an abrupt dismissal of Cabdixakiin Maxamed Axmed through a Vote of No Confidence.

The odds of seeing off President Deni in this round of power struggle are stacked against the Vice President. With less than 25% of the territories in the ex-British Somaliland under Puntland’s control, the power struggle in Puntland strengthens the case for a direct federal representation for constituencies in Disputed Territories before 2021 elections.

Opinions expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of Puntland Post or its subsidiaries.