Saturday, December 07, 2013

Who's Competent to Lead Puntland?

SOMALIA : 2014 Puntland Presidential Election, Who’s competent to lead?

Posted on December 6, 2013
Somali News


OpinionIn a matter of a few weeks, on January 8th, 2014, the fourth presidential election will commence in Puntland and will be held in Garowe, the capital city of Puntland Federal State. The selection process of the 66 parliamentary members is currently underway. This time, we all need to be very vigilant and make a well thought out decision before selecting the 5th president of Puntland Federal State. Rest assured, Puntland people have higher hopes on the outcome of this election and won’t settle with empty promises. I believe this election is all about leadership. So, who’s competent to lead us through this challenging time?

Are you feeling the election fever? Yes, and it’s contagious. We are all excited and cautiously optimistic about the overall campaign trail across the region. Large waves of contestants are landing in Puntland airports and have captured the attention of the Puntland people. This is a copycat phenomenon that’s so viral and is spreading beyond control. Some of you may wonder why these unknown faces receive a rock star celebrity reception. I can assure you that, they’re not being supported for a good cause. Instead, clans and sub-clans of the contenders are lined up with colorful attire to cheer for their fellow hopeful president. What’s very strange also that caught my eyes is that, candidates are glowing with joy like they’re going to settle in a golden castle in the sky.

Puntland elections are usually simple and trouble free but, this time, may require extra caution and close coordination among all contestants. Government officials and candidates have distinct but complimentary roles to respond to the new security challenges ahead. As Nicholas Kay suggested, Special Representative of the Secretary General, “all presidential candidates will need to be assured freedom of movement, association, security and should enjoy equal access to media”. I agree but, on the other hand, all candidates should also abide by the law and refrain from any activity that obstructs security officials to perform their official duties.

It’s politically immature to note that, some candidates are demanding to relinquish the President’s constitutional powers during the election process. In response to this, Puntland government, under the leadership of President Farole, is the only entity that has full legal authority and responsibility for managing and safeguarding Puntland State of affairs until January 8th, 2014. Puntland government is also responsible for implementing reliable security measures in order to secure a smooth transition of the elections. By the same token, I agree there are some more pain points that need to be addressed. For instance, whose responsibility is to nominate the Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Committee? President Farole has unilaterally published the names of the committee on December 3rd, 2013 while Nicholas Kay has expressed earlier that the President will consult with elders and candidates before nominating them. The other issue left unresolved is what to do in case some CSS elders decide to boycott Puntland elections. These issues could be a showstopper if they’re not addressed collectively and dealt with effectively. However, reconvening the clan elders meeting after the election was a great breakthrough.

What Do I Want From The New Puntland Leader?

I want a leader with great leadership skills that can fulfill satisfactorily all Twelve Pillars of My Platform.

1. Showing ample respect, consideration and support for initiatives coming from SSC traditional elders. It’s about time, in fact way overdue, to step back and recommit to those basic values that have kept us together since the inception of Puntland Federal State.
2. Overcoming security challenges caused by religious extremists and dismantling pirate’s activities and their stronghold.

3. Bringing forward robust economic policy plan that will enhance Puntland taxation system and address overall economic growth.
4. Creating concrete development projects that reach out to the isolated areas of the state (Gaari-waa).
5. Creating and empowering youth employment opportunities inside and outside of the major cities.
6. Launching and completing the democratization process before the end of first three years of the new government mandate. If managed well, this will lead to a multi-party system and credible elections in the future.
7. Despite some significant political and ideological differences between Somali Federal Government (SFG) and Puntland, the new leader must renew immediately its relationship with SFG by negotiating fairly on behalf of Puntland people while respecting the law of the land.
8. Co-operating with each other (SFG and Puntland) is the best interest of the country and moving forward will play a very essential role in shaping the country.
9. Overbearing and unyielding is a dictatorial attitude that doesn’t fit the true character of a leader. Therefore, love and hate relationships among Somali politicians must stop.
10. I want a trustworthy leader that will commit to his promises and be true to his character with no hidden agenda.
11. I want a leader that has not been associated with any religious extremists or warlord activities as well as any other criminal activities during civil war.
12. Before losing Somali sovereignty and Puntland identity, I want a TRUE Somali leader capable of addressing both local and national issues in a more integrated and impartial approach.

Who are the candidates in the race?

As of today, 24 candidates have entered the race for Puntland’s 2014 presidential election. To gain a good perspective of the upcoming election, we need to visit and get to know who the candidates are that are running for the top position. How competent are they to lead Puntland? Based on their background experience, I classify them into four categories but they may have different, if not completely incompatible, agendas.

I) Unknown and Untested Candidates (Hataa Koyni group):

1) Abdullahi Sheikh Ahmed Mohamud (Cadde)
2) Abdiweli Mohamud Gurey
3) Mohamed Abdi Nur Hersi
4) Shire Haji Farah
5) Ahmed Abbas Ahmed (Gacmo-Gaab)
6) Abdulkadir Mohamed Yusuf (Yeey)
7) Ali Abdulkadir Yusuf
8) Abdullahi Ali Barre (Ciddi-Libaax)
9) Eng Ali Haji Abulle
10) Abdidizak Nur Alula
11) Abdiqasim Mohamed Hassan
12) Ahmed Muse Yusuf

These candidates are not known and have not had any political experience in both Puntland and Somalia. I believe they have no chance in holding the top position but instead, hope to obtain a ministerial position. They have not been tested and, for sure, will fail any leadership skills test. It’s not the best time to test a rookie politician in Puntland leadership. My advice to you is, go get some experience and come again. As a good rule of thumb, these candidates are not fit to lead.

II) Religious Factions Candidates (Islaamiyiin group):

1) Ali Haji Warsame
2) Dr. Sadiq Eenow
3) Abdirahman Mohamed Gablax
4) Haji Mohamed Yasin (Iley)

Puntland and Somalia at large had very ugly experiences with religious factions. Puntland Islamists just came back to the spotlight after many years of hibernation. In 1992, Al-Itixaad members led by Hassan Dahir Aweys have engaged in a bloody war (Dagaalkii Saliid) against Puntland administration that killed several hundred Puntlanders. Candidates listed above were either a member of this faction or true sympathizers. It’s important that people of Puntland to note that, theses candidates are not driven by true religious ideology, but rather plan to impose their unfounded beliefs. God forbid, but if elected, same as their counterparts of South Central Somalia, they will invite in, and handover Puntland to world terrorists and criminals. Their loyalty rests somewhere other than Puntland people. Do we really know who their role model is?

Same as ‘Anna waa i kan’ group, Islaamiyiin group are also unknown and untested in politics as they’ve never held any political position in both Somalia and Puntland. Being a member of religious faction and having no experience in politics are two deadly combinations. Due to these facts, it’s absolutely impossible to hand over the crown to Islamists. Please rest assured that Puntland people will never forget what Al-Itixaad faction did to innocent people. On a different note, Puntland people are really generous and forgiving, all you need to do is renounce publicly from associating wrongdoers and baseless religious factions and ask for forgiveness. Then, Puntland people will consider your candidacy in the future.

III) Known and Tested Candidates with No Leadership Skills (Ma daalayaal group):

1) General Abdullahi Said Samatar
2) Mohamed Ali Yusuf (Gaa-Gaab)
3) Ali Abdi Aware
4) General Abdullahi Ali Mire (Careys)
5) Dr. Yasin Farah Artan
6) Abdurahman Cuke

They have been around in Puntland politics for a reasonable time and tested but added no significant value while serving in Puntland. Puntlanders also nickname some of them as ‘spoilers’. Therefore, these candidates are not qualified as viable alternatives to govern Puntland. Gentlemen, it’s about time to slow down and retire from politics.

IV) Known and Tested Candidates with GREAT Leadership Skills:

President Farole and Dr. Abdiweli are the only candidates qualified for this category. I have to confess that, I was a supporter of President Farole for the most part of his official term. However, after a series of critical mistakes and misjudgments, he cannot win my vote anymore. As much as I wanted to, I cannot offer blind support to President Farole regarding the following important items:

As promised during his campaign in 2008, President Farole has broken one of the major election promises of liberating Lasanod.

President Farole was elected for a four year term but has illegally extended it into a five year term. That was very controversial and disappointing indeed.

President Farole has failed to complete the democratization process, despite this being his primary mandate for the last five years.

President Farole has declared cutting off relations and co-operations with the Federal Government of Somalia. I really do believe that President Farole had so many valid reasons to make this decision; however, suspending all co-operations was not the right direction. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault, it’s a great setback now for both Puntland and SFG. The best course of action would be to continue talking and keep discussing issues tirelessly until you reach an agreement.

On November 28th, 2013, President Farole’s running mate and current Vice President of Puntland, Abdisamad Ali Shire, has engaged in unnecessary and preventable confrontation that caused the lives of 9 people in Taleex.

Based on the facts and observations presented here, President Farole has barely passed the leadership skills test, but not enough to make the threshold required. Sorry, but it’s time to turn the crown over to the most qualified candidate. I personally thank Mr. Farole for holding the torch and leading us through bad and good times for the last five years. As he will retire soon with honor, we will celebrate his political career achievements soon.

Ladies and gentlemen, Puntland people deserve better. Dr. Abdiweli has all the ingredients you want from a great leader. He’s well known, tested, and trustworthy, and above all has outstanding leadership skills. As he has satisfactorily delivered the Roadmap process within a short period of time, he can successfully manage to take Puntland to the next level. I am not a fortune teller, but based on these facts and much more, I am confident he’s the only competent candidate capable of fulfilling Twelve Pillars of My Platform and leading Puntland through the unending cycle of dependency, security, social and economic challenges. As a final note, the future of Puntland is very promising with the leadership of Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (Gaas).

Abdirizak A. Aden (Eelay)

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