COSTLY PROTOCOL IRREGULARITIES OF PUNTLAND ADMINISTRATIONS

image001   It has become an intoxication fashion for Puntland successive administration leaders to indulge in prohibitively expensive state receptions and send-off of the head of the Government when-ever he steps out of the Capital or returns to it. Even a short working visit from a region requires mobilization of the entire residents of Garowe for a Welcome Party either to receive the President or to send him off. This entails huge security operations every time there is such an event. All Government and economic activities of the City come to a standstill for a whole working day. Public Schools are closed for the day for students to take part in the huge party at airport. People are required to line up in tightly cramped setting along the narrow sidelines that has no even sidewalks of the only highway passing through Garowe. The single transport road linking up the country from West to East is blocked to movement of goods, services and people for many hours each time the President leaves or come to town. Enormous traffic jumps pile up. Serious auto-accidents often occur. Economic and labour productivities are lost for the entire day. The meagre public funds of Puntland are squandered and wasted. Somali Diaspora websites compete for presence and best angles for media coverage of these frequent “State Parties” and splash on their pages the smiling reception figures with colorful bouquet of flower rings hanging down on their necks. As a result of this thoughtless and never-ending officially sanctioned exercises, Puntland State not only suffers economically, but the misplaced and fashionable enterprise implicitly turns the people of Puntland into serving the President instead of him serving the people. This continuous “State Parties” have to stop immediately. It is unsophisticated, thoughtless and a total waste of public resources and time. It serves only the echo of an insensitive and self-serving leader and the pleasure of sycophants and flatterers in Government circles. When I was there, my team had never entertained the idea of such not only wasteful, but extremely monotonous continuity and tasteless display of governance, or mis-governance, if you would. A minimum number of Government officials, some of the Presidential Staff and security detail, and where and when possible, some foreign delegations to the country, are sufficiently and economically enough to receive or send off the President during some of his many travels. Historically, this abuse of public resources in self-serving public display of Presidential receptions was initiated and widely expanded by Former President Abdirahman Mohamud Faroole. Instead of discontinuing this harmful imposition on the people and cultivation of personality cult, President Abdiweli Ali Gas is now exceeding even the expectation of Faroole. Separation of power into the executive, legislative and judiciary branches are extremely problematic in Somalia. One feels uncomfortable and uneasy when one sees the Speaker of Parliament welcoming or seeing off the President at airports like his Junior Minister. This is an unacceptable and deeply embarrassing to the people of Somalia, to Puntland in particular. Under this circumstance, accountability of Government to the people through the Parliament is irretrievably lost, Parliaments becomes rubber stamp. Checks and balance of power disappear. Corruption and abuses of power become rampant and unchecked. Puntland Parliament should immediately avoid melting and diffusing itself to the Executive Branch. This is a very grave issue (Please see the article “Somalis have to blame only themselves for creating their own dictators”, WDN, Feb. 25, 2013) we all have to watch out and get ready to speak out and do something about it) The above Presidential malpractices lead us to worry about the fate and the future of the democratization and multi-party process in Puntland, in particular, and Somalia’s general elections 2016, in general. I see no sense of urgency within the leadership to re-start the process and correct it where it was bent and failed in the previous administration of President Faroole. The New Administration of President Abdiweli was required, and it pledged to commit itself to it in Day One of taking Office. What one wonders what was happening with regards to the issue of future governance of Puntland? Will it be again on the brink of total collapse or disintegration on the eve of the next Presidential and Parliament Elections as the old founding clan selection process finally stopped to function, satisfy and resolve the tremendous challenges of clan contradictions and stringent demands for modern governance, regionalism and globalization? Puntland State is expected to do better than that. People of Puntland deserve better than that. Finally, the school of thought on Federalism in Somalia’s future governance has been conclusively won now. Proponents and promoters of Federalism have been vindicated after a long and hard-fought political struggle. It seems to me that the Administration of President Abdiweli Ali Gas is not paying the serious attention required by Puntland State to see that a fair and adequately balanced constitutional framework come out of the National Constitutional Review Process by failing to appoint and attach a team of Puntland Constitutional experts to that process. It is not too late yet to do just that. In conclusion, and now in my capacity as a keen observer of Puntland news, I have noted that the New Vice President of the State was not sure of his role in Government and constitutional mandate as the most Senior Advisor of President and that he had no independent opinion apart from that of his own President. The Office of the President is one, not two, and everything the Vice does or says publicly must have the sanction of his Boss and within the mandate of the Constitution. There can be room for confusion in running Government affairs. I guess learning statecraft and adhering to the letter and spirit of the law is hard to swallow in a traditionally nomadic culture. Public statements involving Puntland unity and its policies towards the rest of Somalia, including Somaliland, must be officially formulated and standardized to avoid uncoördinated signals and policy mis-statements at various levels and officials. Ramadan Karim to all! Ismail H. Warsame E-mail: ismailwarsame@gmail.com Twitter: @ismailwarsame

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