By Abdelkarim A Hassan
There was much jubilation among many Somalis and in particular those from Puntland celebrating long and wide when Dr. Abdiwali M. Ali was elected as the president of Puntland on January 8, 2014. The euphoria shown by many from the region when the election results were announced had more to do with the rejection of Abdirahman Faroole than the election of Abdiwali as an agent of change. The people of Puntland were despondent with Faroole’s administration and culture of nepotism, corruption, and incompetency. There was a yearning for any change that would lead to Faroole’s exit. Faroole’s departure was welcomed with much optimism and perceived by many as a new dawn on the horizon for Puntland. It was reminiscent of the same jubilation that was accorded to President Hassan Sh. Mohamoud when he came to power on Oct. 2012; however, the current dismal conditions prevalent under his leadership are testament to his failure not only to Somalis worldwide but also among the International Community. President Mohamoud’s immense shortcomings are due to the prevailing plunder and missed opportunities to lead Somalia to a secure, stable, and prosperous statehood.
Abdiwali M. Ali, the fifth President (including an interim president) of Puntland and the former Prime Minister of Somalia in the transitional administration from June 2011 to October 2012, won the Puntland presidency with a slim margin, at a time when the region was dominated by rampant corruption as well as maladministration.
President Abdiwali, while campaigning for the office, put together a vision: “My mission is based on a genuine desire to create a better future for all Somalis-a future that is characterized by the virtuous cycle of peace, stability, and wealth of opportunities, in place of the vicious cycle of insecurity, poverty and underdevelopment”. Moreover, as soon as he was sworn into office, Abdiwali promised that under his watch, Puntland is destined for economic prosperity and political stability. The President was right to focus on economic development and political stability, among other urgent needs of a regional state that has never seen the many promises made by its leaders. He presented these two paramount components of Puntlands’ vision for success in his victory speech.
The key challenges facing Puntland, that needed concrete approach in his first 100 days, as the President outlined, included: jobs creation, strengthening public and private institutions, finding long term solutions to the intricate issue of Sool Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) region and paving the way for a multiparty system. Thus, Abdiwali’s success should be measured on the achievements and progress or the lack thereof he made on these key segments.
Security and Integrity of Puntland
At the onset of his presidential victory, Abdiwali committed to convene a grand assembly between Puntland administration and Sool, Sanaag and Cayn communities, to find a lasting solution on the issue of SSC. Many people have welcomed the approach to tackle head on the issue of SSC, with no preconditions. This is, as is well known, challenging and yet critical to the integrity and existence of Puntland.. Laas Caanood has fallen to Somaliland’s hands on Oct, 2007, while Adde Musse was in power. Laas Caanood, a key city as well as other parts of SSC region, has since been under the control of Somaliland. The SSC communities attribute the loss of Laas Caanood to Puntland leader’s lukewarm interest in the SSC region. This issue has been the center of the SSC conflict with the Puntland administration. Notwithstanding that SSC communities should put their house in good order and form a forward looking unified voice.
President Abdiwali has yet to honor his promise to convene a meeting with SSC communities. As his predecessor, the issue of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn is not a priority for him, which has led the communities from such regions to further disengage from his administration, as one of the key stakeholders of Puntland. Obviously, it seems Abdiwali’s vision for Puntland is a continuation of Faroole’s policies. From the looks of it, Abdiweli’s interest and governing doesn’t go beyond Garowe and the surrounding vicinity.
On the other hand, Puntland security is deteriorating. Insecurity and targeted killings are becoming the norm. There are reports alleging that Puntland’s administration under Abdiwali, have failed to pay the salaries of those responsible for safeguarding the security of the public. Some reports state that the proud men and women in uniforms, those entrusted with preserving the public safety of Puntland, have not received salaries for more than 10 months.
Abdelkarim A Hassan
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