Garowe ( PPM) — On the 2nd  of August,  2020 Puntland State celebrated its twenty-second anniversary and is now one-generation old.  A lot of water has flowed under bridge since 1998 when the first, pro-union autonomous administration in Somalia was founded. Puntland proposed the federal system to prevent Somalia from relapsing into a centralised government that neglected 70% of the country and concentrated resources on the capital and nearby regions. The lessons  from the state collapse are what determined the commitment to federalism on the part of Puntland State.

Sixteen years have elapsed since Somalia adopted the federal system. Its benefits so far lie in how the International Community helped Somali political classes to work together on building nascent federal institutions despite having different conceptions about what it means to be a federal republic.  A disturbing fact from the promotion of the federal system is the creation of Federal Member States that expose the futility of federal system and its similarities with the dreaded centralised system of government if federal member states remain clan fiefdoms whose institutions are protected under the draft constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia despite rendering half of Somali citizens politically powerless on account of belonging to a group unfairly designated as minorities.

Former Puntland State leaders Abdulahi Y. Ahmed (top row, left), Mohammed A. Hashi, (top row, middle), Mohamud Hersi (top row, right), Abdirahman Farole (bottom row, left), Abdiweli M. Ali (bottom row, middle) and incumbent Said A. Deni (bottom row, right).

In Puntland twenty two years of political evolution have yet to create a  decentralised administration. Each new administration has a mandate to enrich a select group of people in Puntland at the expense of the rest of Puntland  regions. Security forces are still organised along clan lines; economic activities in the port city of Bosaso have declined after DP World took over the port to run it for thirty years. That a major Puntland, and Somali, infrastructure for that matter, ended up in the hands of a foreign country without consultations with stakeholders indicates that Puntland, far from being staunchly pro-federalism, is inherently a centralist Federal Member State rooted in undemocratic practices.

Changes might be afoot if Puntland adopts a multi-party system after the pilot local elections take place next year. Three political associations will graduate to political parties. Without reforming the political system in Puntland where people are still divided along subclan constituencies and where the government is a tool to enrich the few and impoverish the many, Puntland will have wasted time and resources even if political parties become a common feature of politics in the Garowe-based Federal Member State.

© Puntland Post Monthly, 2020