In a momentous address before the 53rd session of the Puntland House of Representatives, President Said Abdullahi Deni illuminated Puntland’s strategic and ideological positions vis-à-vis Somalia’s federal framework and governance policies.
Garowe, Puntland, SOMALIA.
President Deni cited Puntland’s commitment to a united and federal Somalia, as set forth in the Mbagathi agreement of 2004. The President’s reflection on history serves not merely as a recollection but as an analytical anchor, emphasising Puntland’s foundational role in shaping modern Somalia. It underscores Puntland’s vested interest and unwavering commitment to seeing a stable and federal Somalia, an element that shapes its interactions with the federal government today.
Controversies with the Federal Government of Somalia
President Deni made it abundantly clear that the governance philosophy of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s administration, which deviated from the federalist vision, has caused considerable strain. This explicit mention signifies not just a policy disagreement but points to a deeper ideological rift that has wider implications for Puntland’s political and administrative autonomy.
The contention over NCC meetings
Deni was critical of the National Consultative Council (NCC) meeting conducted on 26 May 2023, labelling it unconstitutional and dangerous to the existing power-sharing agreements and closing the political space to two political parties. This represents more than a governance dispute. It’s an indictment of a system that Puntland views as sidelining its autonomy and federal responsibilities. By refusing to participate in what it deems are unconstitutional activities, Puntland is signalling its robust stand on legality and federal principles.
Key issues and discord
Enumerating issues like constitutional review, power-sharing, and resource allocation, President Deni gives us more than a list; he provides an analytical roadmap for understanding the structural challenges impeding Puntland’s full participation in federal frameworks. The three failed NCC forums serve as testamentary examples of systemic reluctance to address these underlying issues, which, if unaddressed, could further disenfranchise Puntland and similar federal entities.
Puntland’s forward-looking stance
Deni reiterated Puntland’s readiness for dialogues on the state-building process, but Puntland will act independently as sanctioned by its constitution and the federal constitution until the state-building process is completed. This articulation symbolises a governance philosophy anchored in both self-reliance and collective responsibility. It embodies Puntland’s nuanced approach of being willing to collaborate but also prepared to act unilaterally if conditions warrant.
Caution and responsibility
Deni warned against hastily signed agreements and lack of consultative processes, portraying a leader aware of the complex intricacies of federal agreements and their long-lasting implications. His warning encapsulates a broader call for responsible federalism, urging meticulous planning and open dialogue as necessary bedrocks for a stable federation.
In sum, President Said Abdullahi Deni’s parliamentary address serves as a comprehensive outline of Puntland’s stance on the key issues shaping its relationship with the Federal Government of Somalia. The speech was not merely a list of grievances or conditions but a cogent articulation of Puntland’s deeply rooted commitment to federalism, balanced against its concerns over centralised governance systems that might sideline its autonomy and interests. By spotlighting the historical contributions of Puntland, challenging the constitutional validity of certain federal actions, and emphasising the state’s forward-looking, pragmatic approach to governance, President Deni has provided not just a roadmap but a philosophical framework for understanding Puntland’s positioning within the broader Somali federation.
The President’s remarks come at a critical juncture, underscoring the urgent need for a cohesive national dialogue that integrates the concerns and aspirations of all federal member states, including Puntland. It’s a call for a renewed commitment to the principles of federalism and collective governance, grounded in legal frameworks and transparent consultations. As Puntland prepares for its upcoming elections and continues to play a vital role in the Somali federation, President Deni’s address will likely serve as a seminal document, framing the state’s governance philosophy for years to come.