Puntland Political Associations Face An Uphill Task

By Hussein F. Taher, Bosaso

Your report on Puntland political associations (Puntland Political Associationand the Road Ahead, PPM, April ) touched on issues that politicians should address before people take the democratisation initiative seriously.

Puntland lacks the clan diversity enjoyed either by Somaliland or Galmudug. This disadvantage sharpens intra-clan power struggle. Political associations may bring to an end the practice of taking turns at Puntland presidency, a system that rewards leaders of three subclans. 15 years of political stability in Puntland have yet to yield  good governance. Political accountability is virtually absent in Puntland. The executive controls the Parliament. Political dysfunction in Puntland — manifested in leasing Bosaso Port to DP World without community wide consultations — deepens every day.

Will TPEC members succeed to help Puntland transition to a multiparty system in a mono-clan Federal Member State?

Puntland prides itself on introducing the federal system but its government seldom benefits from training and other institutional development opportunities other Federal Member States access through the Federal Government in Mogadishu. Puntland forces are organised along subclan lines. 

Each new administration recruits new forces and senior civil servants loyal to the new administration.  Against this backdrop political associations can make little or no change without becoming candid about the clan-based politics that discourage criticism of an incumbent administration.  Added to this is the length of time it takes to put political programmes of parties across to citizens.

Local government elections will take place in three districts. Whoever made the decision to conduct pilot local governments only in three districts unwittingly disclosed how poor governance stalled decentralisation in Puntland despite Garowe being vocal about defending the nascent federal system of Somalia.

If Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission can  pilot local government elections in three districts, it should be able to conduct elections in all districts under the control of Puntland Administration. Who proposed the local government elections in this limited format? Puntland political associations, Puntland State government and TPEC had better put their heads together and come up with a more democratic pilot local government elections plan.

Hussein F. Taher,  Bosaso