Garowe ( PPM) — Puntland State of Somalia prides itself upon coming up with the federalism project for Somalia. As an idea it sounded appealing compared to the centralist agenda of the first transitional government for Somalia formed in 2000 after the Arta Reconciliation Conference in Djibouti. Puntland facilitated the end of the transition through Garowe I and II conferences that built on the first 2012 Somalia London Conference to enable Somalia to have a permanent government.

To Puntland the end of the transition was a strategy to institutionalise federalism. Eight years after the end of the transition Puntland State has demanded abrogation of electoral and resource-sharing laws passed by bicameral legislatures in Mogadishu. Since 2017 Puntland has lost the privilege to issue fishing licenses for foreign companies. The incumbent Federal Government of Somalia instituted the policy to render fishing licenses issued by Federal Member States null and void.

The legal challenge that Puntland State mounts against the Federal Parliament and the Upper House is premised on an article Puntland constitution that stipulates “Puntland will have the privileges of an independent state until the Somali draft constitution gets finalised and put to a national referendum.” Puntland has not revised its constitution to avoid an indirect sovereignty claim in a country with a recognised government. In Puntland federalism is still an idea waiting for implementation.

President Deni demands abrogation of laws passed by bicameral legislatures in Mogadishu

The administration is centralised. That means Puntland has not pounced at the opportunity to decentralise certain powers to the regions and districts. Efforts are under way to conduct pilot local government elections at several districts.  More than ten political associations will participate in planned elections. Three political associations will emerge to become political parties twenty two years after the creation of Puntland as an autonomous administration.

Puntland lacks clear separation of powers. Its system of government saddles the executive with unaccountable powers. On the sixtieth anniversary of the Somali Union President Said Abdullahi Deni vowed to follow recommendations offered by Puntland Parliament to respond to the rift with the Federal Government. Puntland Parliament is not wholly independent of Puntland Presidency, not an anomaly in Somali politics but a common political aberration delaying the transition to good governance throughout Somalia. Only when Puntland sets a good governance example can its questions about laws passed by federal legislatures make sense.

© Puntland Post Monthly, 2020

Click here to download a full webzine