Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.
The plight of Puntland!!
Abdi Mohamed "gacmo", Gacmo67@hotmail.com
Puntlands debacle is multifaceted and deep-rooted then people want to admit. The main assumption of "Puntland is facing constitutional crises" is not only untimely, but also wrong. Puntland faced constitutional crises a past long gone. At this juncture of history, what Puntland is facing is "re-evaluation of its fundamental principles and thinking which resulted its creation" and whether it warrants to be defended at any price. Challenging the fundamental principles Puntland is based has brought a governmental crisis or lack of it, but not a constitutional crisis.
Already Centralist forces have plotted and carried assassinations of innocent individuals in hope of biting one clan against the other. And if Centralists are not countered soon, they will reach their goal through other means, like endless clan warfare. The culprits that destroyed Puntland, whether they are traditional, businessmen, elite or politicians do not believe in principle the idea of state hood. It was clear from day one that Col. Jama Ali Jama and his followers had no interest in Puntland state hood. When the first shots are fired Col. Jama will start campaigning a federalist position, and if he is defeated he will wear the nationalist Somali-wayn shirt. But he should not escape justice, because under his name and supervision innocent civilians have been assassinated.
Clan politics and stagnation:
Puntland was created on the assumption of clan confederacy with equal participation in its political process. But the truth is murkier than that. It is fast becoming like Somaliland, where non-Dir_Isaq clans are ignored, even though Somaliland claims other clans territory. The creation of Puntland was thought to address the infertile political malignancy and stagnation that dodged the Somali nation. It is still a closet for dinosaur politicians. Somalis in general and Puntlanders in particular are political animals whose air to breath is politics. Normally populist agendas have short-term life expectancy, and would not mend and serve a venue of discussion if the opinionated political aspirants not found a political platform to release the hyperventilated pressurized energy. Puntland was thought to address these and build the foundations of strong, neutral and independent civil institutions that will earn the trust of the public at large. More than a quarter of a century the personalities at the acme of Puntland political representation have not changed. Puntland was thought to address this too; and provide a venue for the next generation to contribute the social, political, economic and cultural advancement of the estate. What is at stake is not only the stability of Puntland, but more importantly the vision of Puntland State is in jeopardy. There is a cloud of hopelessness and impotent for most of Puntlanders who were eager earlier to contribute in the process. The flavor in Puntland showcase was based on the full participation of all the population in the region and a new political dynamics that will open the gates for the new generations; a process and platform never imagined in Somalia. That infant showcase has been hampered and is in danger to die. Puntland is becoming fast, like Somaliland where the political process is being dominated by clan determined few circles.
Puntland state failed to create political platforms and venues of discussion and impetus of the existing divergent perspectives in the region. Somalis are known to reject violently when they are denied a political platform in show casing their perspective. Even if the centralist forces of Art in Puntland led by Col. Jama Ali Jama are crushed, the ailment that Arta centralists exploited in destroying Puntland state will be there! it is Jug-jug meeshadi joog-one step forward two steps backward!
Puntland constitution was a sophisticated and multi layered, with conditions that null everything else, if not met and fulfilled some assumptions. Centralist forces of Arta in Puntland exploited the weaknesses of Puntland constitution in advancing their centralist goal; destroying the idealism of state hood in Puntland. Puntland is becoming a battleground for the forces of the centralists. They selected it; they should be given what they deserve. If the centralist forces in Puntland are crushed, there is no way they can survive anywhere else in Somalia. Centralists challenge in Puntland is aimed to forever silencing the federalist forces in Somalia.
The corner stone of Puntland constitution was population census. Population census is not a fete, even established third world governments can accomplish without a multinational donor involvement. No census, no election and no government, was the motto of Puntland constitution. That is how crazy the "Thought of democracy" in Puntland, was. The draftees of the constitution were over zealously trying to show that Puntlanders had democracy in their gene; what a fallacy. The guinea pig of the thought of ultimate democracy is dead! There is no such a thing called "Ultimate democracy".
Centralists represent a vocal minority in Puntland who saw the federalist thought in Somalia, as a postponement of any meaningful re-establishment of the Somalia we knew! They argued that the sum; Somali, was sick. No parts of the sum can be fixed unless the sum is healthy. No doubt they advanced their believes to the tilt and destroyed Puntland State. Col. Jama Ali Jama and his group of Arta loyalists in Puntland do not care whether Puntland state exists or not. They claim to care only Somalia, for him Bossaso is his town and he will keep it under a centralized Somali state at all cost! Unfortunately for him, Bossaso is not to his only. Everyone in Puntland should have a right to freely express his opinions, but in no way anyone should be given a free ride while they assassinate innocent civilians to fulfill their dreams. No body should be above the law, unless Puntlanders prefer and want the workings of clan laws re-established.
Why the peace Mission failed:
The neutrality concept of Puntland peace mission is not attuned to the majority. The majority was looking eagerly a third option that is also federalists. The concept of neutrality has created confusion in the minds of the public that supported political moderation, but not neutrality in the basic principles Puntland state was found. To the majority of the public; federalism is non-renegotiable. Every Puntlander knew the stand of the members; all the members of Puntland peace mission were extreme supporters of federalism and the sacrosanct of Puntland state existence. Majority of Puntlanders expected them to become a third option, in the event Abdullahi Yusuf fails to crush the centralists! The longer it takes in crushing the centralist forces of Arta in Puntland, the weaker the federalist concept becomes. The federalist majority in Puntland including members of this peace mission were shocked and in dismay on easiness the centralists destroyed the federalist administration in Puntland. The mission didnt only fail in the eyes of the majority; they missed an opportunity to become the flag bearers of the federalist cause. They could have taken away that flag from Abdullahi Yusuf, but they let him claim that moral ground again.
The unpopularity of Abdullahi Yusufs administration helped the centralists destroy Puntland state. The majority is crying for a leader, any leader to come forward and carry the banner of federalism, and if Abdullahi Yusuf leads the federalists, so be it, he will find thousands of Puntlanders in his side. Some how the Puntland peace mission advanced at the sidelines that they would assume and fill the vacuum created by this crises, as a third option and carry the banner of federalist. Their ground support melted away when they tried to reconcile unapproachable concepts in Puntland. The forces challenging each other in Puntland were Federalists and Centralist. Col. Jama Ali Jama, had publicly advocated centralist Arta. He was a member of Arta, was financed by Arta and was under the direction of Arta, in every step he took. On the other side Col. Abdulahi Yusuf, historically advocated the federalist point of view, as is shown by his activities as he strongly lobbied internationally and locally the federalist concept in Somalia. But his administration focused to the Somali question instead of his mandate; laying a strong ground and developing independent civil institutions.
The visionaries of the peace mission previously advanced themes that even astonished strong federalists in Puntland. They were against any Somali reconciliation until Puntland establishes stable and strong independent institutions capable of protecting the individual rights of Puntland public in a federal republic of Somalia.
Centralist Puntlanders in the Diaspora:
Some elites and political theorists from Puntland advanced the new Africanist institutional theory in Puntland. The arguments advanced in this viewpoint were that Africans would have supported the institutions in their states if it had the traditional trust Africans had before colonization. The institutions Africans have inherited after independence, they argue were the same ones that subjected and exploited them; it will be human nature for Africans to have suspicions of those institutions forever. African states have institutional crises because of this, is their argument. They argue, a return or assimilation of traditional elements to the modern institutions would create a loyalty to these institutions as long as the chiefs support them. Thus empowering the traditional chiefs might create a loyalty to independent institutions of the state.
That theory was the base of Arta gathering, but some elites from Puntland have furthered this and initiated the creation of new chiefs and empowering of the ones Siad Barre created. The London club-Puntlanders that Col. Jama Ali Jama was a member were major instruments in advancing and implementing this theory in Puntland.
This implementation has eroded the power base of some respected chiefs in Puntland and made some of them a lame duck. The most prominent Isims in Puntland cannot reach any conclusive decision now, as they become hostages to the new flush of Isims who eagerly challenge the traditional ones. What were ones the positive elements in the stability of Puntland became the Achilles heel. They have been politicized and become part of the problem in Puntland.
Islam Mohamed of Nugal cannot reach a decision without Suldan Garase. Somali chieftains authority was based on informality and the willingness of the public to fellow and listen without coercion. Once it was challenged and accepted the challenger, the informality and willingness evaporated. Likewise Islam Bashir of Muduq cannot reach a conclusive decision without Suldan Hurre. Very few clans had not challenged the traditional chieftains in Puntland. The carpet under the traditional Isims-chiefs, is in fire.
In the long run this phenomena is beneficial for the progress of civil institutions that can be relied by every one, but in the short run it ruins the only credible institute in Puntland.
The tools centralists are using in Puntland would anyway cause clan warfare. Centralists intent is to create chaos by biting one clan against the other. So far they have assassinated five well-known innocent civilians. If they continue in that rate and behavior sooner or later major clans in Puntland will clash. Federalists should march and contain Col. Jama Ali Jama forces before they give the political crises to clanistic face.
Centralists were defeated ruthlessly in Somaliland. Somaliland had matured from that experience. Puntland would benefit crushing the centralists sooner; by avoiding clan animosity and safeguarding Puntland existence as a state.
The sooner the centralists are crushed the better and less painful. Puntland should march forward and crush once for all, the centralist concept in Somalia. This should be taken as a blessing and an opportunity to forward the cause of federalism in Somalia. It does not matter who leads the forces of federalists, but that the centralists are crushed, before they give clan meaning. Centralists in Somalia must be awakened rudely, they choice to make Puntland their battleground. They must be confronted and for the sake of Somalia defeated soundly for ever. And finally Col. Jama Ali Jam should not be let to escape without justice, because under his name and supervision innocent civilians have been assassinated.
"In memory of the innocent civilian individuals Centralists assassinated in Puntland"