The idea behind the creation of Puntland State of Somalia was of two-fold:
To bring stability, peace, harmony, organisation and good governance to the inhabitants of Northeastern Somalia, restoring, creating and delivering vital public services to the entire communities in multiple regions of the new state.
To act and lead the way to the reinstatement and re-construction of Somalia as one of its top priorities.
It was a creation fully supported by grass-root movement that evolved many years during the Civil War and finally boiled down to the establishment of the state as a series of Somalia’s peace and reconciliation conferences abysmally failed to restore Somalia’s central government, and emphatically couldn’t be realised it from top down,thus Puntland’s coining of the “building block” concept.
It was based on unique approach to governance: the foundation of state based on traditional values, its historical zonal self-government experience, married with modern system of administration, and most importantly, discontinuation of colonial legacy with regards to governance as the support of the traditional leadership took centre stage as a critical mechanism for conflict resolution and sound consultation.
As a starting framework for its leadership legitimacy, an indirect democratic selection of legislative members was mandated by its constituency membership through deliberate and exhaustive criteria enshrined in a well prepared charter by any reputable international standards.
here were a number of political and constitutional crisis in the short history of Puntland existence as a state. Each time Puntland State survived mainly because of its strong founding principles and historically binding evolution of people’s aspirations and wishes against the whims of its leadership of the day.
However, Puntland State has been always lacking behind in its further democratisation process, unable after more than a decade, to move forward in implementing the general election of “one man, one vote”. That is why one sees leadership crisis towards the end of each leader’s term in office.
In exactly the same fashion, one witnesses now self-made political tension that may lead to instability and threaten to law and order. It is the same story playing out again. It is therefore self-evident that there is something seriously wrong in Puntland State governance. That has to be fixed quickly and wisely in the best interest of the people and for public good. Put aside leadership ambitions and personal interests because such inclination will serve no one in the end and endanger Puntland State peace, stability and unity. Don’t play with fire to score political points. Always keep in mind that Puntland state is the outcome of many sacrifices and irreplaceable human and economic resources.
For the opposition, the disputed one year extension of the President’s term in office should not be the focus because the stakes are much higher here. Instead, they should be concentrating the democratisation process, while the current leadership provides an atmosphere conducive to dialogue between all stake-holders and parties, and embark upon consensus building. I may remind all of the fact that civil strife takes place when parties fail to talk to each other- in other words, in the absence of dialogue. As long as there is a debate on all issues of mutual concern,there is unlikely that conflagration could occur.
Finally, Puntland State history showed that when there is a political crisis, there are always external actors ready to step in to further destabilise the state. We should be very careful here not to give devils and dark forces in-waiting any chance.
In conclusion, I wish you all a Happy 2013.
Ismail H. Warsame
Formerly Chief of Staff, Puntland State Presidency.