By Burhan A. Shire
The current president of Puntland Administration Saeed Deni, came to power in a corrupted election in 2019. He received support from different sources and regions that assumed aligning with him is more fitting to lead Puntland than his main challenger, the young Gen. Asad Diyana, who was perceived as newcomer by parliamentarians. Even so, Deni defeated Diyana by a small margin of 4 votes (35 to 31 votes), although many felt the young general was inexperienced to lead the fragile state.
However, Puntland has faced many challenges since Deni election. Leader Deni’s time in office is overshadowed by legacy of corruption. He was accused of attacking Speaker of Parliament Abdihakim Dhobo and spending tax-payers money to remove eight MPS through illegal ways and limiting freedom of speech by arresting media workers. Others fear that his administration does not have credible local support to hold local government election in Puntland three district of Qardo Eyl and Ufayn because of Deni’s illegal behavior to seize parliament and silence opposition. Deni, struggles to maintain an orderly functioning administration as ministers are never held accountable in their job titles and are found to not pay their staff appropriate ongoing salaries.
In the current federal election atmosphere, with the ongoing delays, deadlocks and lack of progress in the Federal Election system to hold elections, Deni, has been found to be in the middle of the chaos, and supporting opposition and rejecting resolution efforts. Leader of Puntland, has not been found to prioritise and thus has neglected Puntland interests in relation to pushing his personal agenda in the national elections. As witnessed in the current situation, Puntland suffers from deteriorating security situation since 2019. Few examples are: DP world manager killed inside Bossaso port, governor of Mudug and Nugal regions killed by terrorists, presidential security team leader assassinated in Galkayo, and dramatic prison escape (over 400 prisoners escaped).
The self-driven motivation to single handily attempt to take down the current federal government, Deni continues to appear destructive as he arrived in Mogadishu with heavy weapons at Mogadishu Aden Adde airport which sent wrong signal on Somalia’s recovery state and made him appear more of thug than administration leader.
One can argue, the constant instigating that Deni has carried out against federal government has negative impact on opposition candidates by dividing the votes, destructive role in Puntland by attempting to force his own candidates for federal parliament which could provoke new conflict in Puntland, creating mistrust among opposition candidates which only helps incumbent and popular Somali president Mohamed Farmajo reelection chances.
After all, Deni has not received any support from UAE including port of Bossaso construction delays while DP world completed port terminal at Berbera port in Somaliland. Deni’s political decision such as supporting UAE or fighting federal government have led to total policy failure and negative ramification for 2021 Somali election.
Burhan A. Shire is a Finland-based researcher + commentator. Policy analysis focuses on good governance, state-building and democracy in Horn of Africa. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: @burhanadanshire