Somalia: Is Puntland conspiring with TFG president to remove PM?

Published: May 29, 2010

News Analysis
Nearly one year ago Puntland State government of Somalia warned the Mogadishu based Transitional Government of Somalia (TFG)  against sacking prime minister Omar Abdirashid Ali  Sharmarke. President Abdirahman Farole of Puntland was worried about political marginalistion of his administration if Puntlanders lose prime ministerial post in the TFG. Puntland is the main regional administration that supports the TFG because Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the founding president of Puntland ( 1998-2004) was the TFG president ( 2004-2008). The resignation president Ahmed did not strain the TFG-Puntland partnership severely because the appointment of someone with roots in Puntland as a prime minster ensured the continued cooperation between Puntland and TFG.
Farole administration’s worries about Puntland’s role in the new political order is understandable:  the administration he succeeded in January 2009 had channeled funds to the Mogadishu and Baydhabo where the former TFG president and the transitional federal  parliament were based respectively. That political investment moved Puntland leaders’ eyes off the development priorities in the Puntland regions. The failure of Puntland institutions and the emergence of pirates are partly byproducts of misguided policies that treated Puntlanders as political pawns used to achieve political aims in the short term.
In a BBC Somali Service interview, Puntland president said the row between the TFG president, Sharif Ahmed and prime minister Sharmarke was regrettable.  Two weeks ago president Sharif Ahmed sacked the prime minister  but had had to reinstate him. “The president is entitled to appoint a prime minister; either to reappoint the former prime minister or appoint a new prime minister” President Farole told the BBC Somali Service (Madaxweynaha Puntland ).  Puntland president’s  use of the word “former’ raises questions about his political judgment. Is president Farole aware that president Sharif reinstated prime minister Sharmarke?  The TFG president Sharif   backed down after the  prime minster  cited articles in the TFG charter that president Sharif violated in an attempt to sack his prime minister. Why did president Farole warn the TFG against removing Sharmarke almost one year ago when the prime minister and the TF G president were on good terms? If president Farole was trying to avoid taking sides in the TFG power struggle, it  has backfired. He sided with president Sharif and exposed himself open to accusations about damaging intra-clan cohesion in his fiefdom. As Puntland president, Farole doubles as a Harti paramount chief because he was elected and empowered by traditional leaders. He may face accusation that he violated Harti customary law.
President Farole’s remarks about the   prerogative of  president Sharif Ahmed to appoint  a prime minister  without any reference to the transitional charter has left many people wondering if Puntland will allow the TFG to circulate the newly printed  Somali shillings in Puntland. “ We would like the current  administration to exist,” president Farole told the BBC Somali Service.
Both the Galka’yo Accord in 2009 and the  meeting the TFG president and Puntland  president  had in Addis Ababa  this year to breathe new life into the Accord were facilitated  by prime minister  Sharmarke’s conciliatory  approach given the opposition from some MPs and ministers in Mogadishu who regard Galka’ayo Accord as a preferential  treatment for Puntland. Prime minister Sharmarke argued the agreement the Minister of Fisheries, Abdirahman Ibbi, signed in Djibouti last year had not violated the Galka’yo Accord which entitles Puntland to set up an anti-piracy centre of the TFG in Puntland in addition to allowing Puntland to attend  international conferences on Somalia.
The power struggle had “weakened” the credibility of the president. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah,  the  Special Representative for the UN Secretary-General for  Somalia, backed   the president Sharif for sacking   prime minister Sharmarke but was not heard  from him when the TFG president reinstated the prime minister. He was at the Istanbul Conference on Somalia along with president Sharif and president Farole whose administration criticised the TFG for printing Somali shilling and   barring    Puntland from signing agreements with foreign companies such as Africa Oil Corp.  May be president Farole has expected  prime minister Sharmarke to reverse  TFG decisions and policies that Puntland administration deems to be counter-productive.
Liban Ahmad

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *