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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Editorial
Somalia: Leading by example, the Puntland Constitution [Editorial]



GAROWE ONLINE EDITORIAL | One scholar said: "This [Puntland] constitution, which is based on Islamic Shari'ah law, includes progressive ideas that were not present in the Somali constitutions of the past."

On the eve of history, Puntland territory in the northeastern region of Somalia is in a state of stability founded on unity, inclusivity, and consensus. On Sunday, the Puntland Constitutional Convention opened in Garowe, with 480 delegates from across Puntland regions and districts voting to adopt the Puntland State Constitution. For the first time since Puntland’s inception more than 13 years ago, the State will end its long transition and will have a constitution as a member state of a Federal Republic of Somalia.
 
Some people might say this is all a dream. They say: Puntland cannot have a constitution, or a state flag. Federalism is wrong for Somalia. Arguments posed by the pundits remain redundant and unrepresentative of majority public opinion. Across Somalia, the public is fed up with violent crime, general lawlessness and the agonizing burden of national disintegration. Look at the sudden change of heart in Hargeisa, once again, flirting with Mogadishu over union. Look at the TFG, its senior leadership under accusation of planning the failed assassination via suicide bombing of TFG Prime Minister, Somali-American academic Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali 'Gaas'. Look at Al Shabaab – running in all directions like a wounded animal, surpassing even the Ethiopian troops in "most hated category" of Somali national psyche.
 
The world is watching. London Conference, in February 2012, was a convention of world opinion on the central issue of Somalia. The world is expecting Somalia to pass the Roadmap test; that is, to end the transition on time in August 2012, and for a permanent government to emerge in Somalia for the first time in 21 years.
 
This is the biggest test towards national recovery in Somalia. Are TFG leaders committed to ending the transition on time? This is open for speculation. Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Gaas is a vocal advocate for the Roadmap. Dr. Gaas has been instrumental in improving relations between TFG and Puntland, and he has been a selfless promoter of peace in Mogadishu. Dr. Gaas has braved security concerns and addressed thousands of Mogadishu’s residents at public gatherings, including Conis Stadium, in order to deliver the message of the TFG.
 
Puntland moves forward
 
Look at Puntland – the public is fed up with clan selection process for government seats. The people want political parties and competitive elections.
 
The 480 delegates of the Puntland Constituent Assembly will debate during a three-day convention to adopt the Puntland State Constitution. This historic undertaking has understandably generated attention in Puntland media. However, the way some media centered the debate is misleading. Some media did not put a focus on debating legal, political and social implications of the constitution’s141 articles. Instead, some media agencies have placed an exaggerated focus on the constitutional article that states that the term of the president and members of parliament is 5-years.
 
Many have argued that President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole is getting a one-year extension after the constitution is adopted. The President insists that the Puntland Constitutional Convention must adopt the State Constitution before the Somali Federal Constitution is finalized and adopted in a Somali-wide National Constituent Assembly later this year. Farole says Puntland must end its 13-year transition and consolidate its state government in a federal system for Somalia.
 
Islamic scholars speaking at many Puntland mosques have supported the State's constitution. One scholar said: "This [Puntland] constitution, which is based on Islamic Shari'ah law, includes progressive ideas that were not present in the Somali constitutions of the past."
 
Indeed, Puntland is moving on. The new toy of the terrorists, former UK resident Abdulkadir Mumin, is Al Shabaab's notoriously cowardly and never-seen representative in Puntland. In line with Al Shabaab practice, the terrorists' website editorialized Mumin's chance of garnering support from certain sub-clans in order to challenge the Farole administration. Indeed, it is President Farole himself who has identified on numerous occasions that Al Shabaab instigates clan conflicts in Puntland. Al Shabaab's latest editorial on Puntland is indicative of the terror group's subversive practices to use clans against each other, to spread divisions, and to stir hostilities among neighbors.

This practice has failed in Puntland. The clans understand where their survival interest lies. Al Shabaab remains isolated in a few mountain caves in the Golis Mountain Range straddling northern Somalia, and being hunted by police in Puntland cities and towns. Who is Mumin's audience, one wonders. There are a few websites owned by Al Shabaab operatives and those websites are certainly celebrating Mumin's hateful words sent from obscurity.
 
Despite the obstacles, Puntland has progressed and braved the odds alone. When the Puntland Constitutional Convention concludes, inshallah, history will be made: Puntland will advance from the era of transition, and Somalia will be closer to national recovery. The future of Puntland is a competitive multiparty political system. The naysayers' time is up – the world can no longer bet on potential. Puntland is in practice and it is the example for other Somali regions to follow, with its own constitution, government branches, and security forces.
 
The time to act is now.

Garowe Online Editorial
Send comments / questions to: editorial@garoweonline.com / contact@garoweonline.com
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