H.E. Ambassador Boubakar Diara, Special Representative,
AU Commission Chairperson
H.E. Hon. Kipruto Arap Kirwa,
IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation
H.E. Ambassador James Swan
US Special Representative to Somalia
H.E. Ambassador Matt Baugh
UK Ambassador to Somalia
CC: International Crisis Group (ICG)
Subject: Puntland Election Crisis
As citizens and intellectuals of Puntland, having the right to participate the political destiny of our land, as founding members of Puntland State of Somalia, we are strongly committed to contribute to the security, nation building and democratization process including the adoption of a multiparty system in our state.
We write this letter to put across our deep concerns about Puntland unity, security, denial of the right to media independence and freedom of expression and association and a looming so called democratization scheme without the support of its people in every region.
The President of Puntland H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed (Farole) came to power in an election by the traditionally selected clan based parliament on 8 January 2009 for a four-year term ending on 8 January 2013. The common responsibilities entrusted upon his government within those four years included completion of taking census, referendum on the constitution and establishing multi-party political system. In his election speech the President Farole vowed to the people that he would not extend his term of office by one day, promising to finalize the then ongoing democratization process started by his predecessor, leading the country to free and fair elections by this time.
By contrast the current administration failed to carry out any of its essential three-point responsibilities within the mandated timeline. The Farole administration faces utter failure in its attempt to maintain security, Puntland people’s unity and peaceful coexistence and protection of its civilian population from external aggressions in the regions. Rather than assist the growth and development of press independence, the government silenced virtually every media outlet on Puntland. Journalists and owners of press institutions who resist bribe to cooperate face job losses, closure of media outlets and imprisonment, seriously crippling the respect for human rights and the effectiveness of the media in Puntland.
Besides the total suppression of the people’s voices, the Administration increased the budget three-fold by imposing high levels of taxation and yet failed to pay salary to the police and Dervish forces and civil servants for the third consecutive month, adding affordability pressures to the economic burden already experienced by the people.
We are deeply concerned on the following counts:
President Farole promised that he would implement a referendum on the new constitution and continue the democratization process by introducing a multi-party system within his first year in office. Although some progress including constitutional approval was made, we believe that the term of government ended with no satisfactory results and the President has no legitimacy to finalize the remaining tasks. In February 2010, the Council of Ministers and the parliament approved constitutional provisions; ratification of the constitution took more than two long years without any hindrance, which shows that the government was reluctant to deliver the promised agenda because the government was keen to extend its term in office.
Unfortunately, the President formed an interim election commission, which was not transparent from the start since the government did not consult with the people, the opposition, the traditional elders and the civil society. On 18 April 2012, delegates who were selected from parts of Puntland provisionally approved the constitution. The government had attached to the constitution a constriction in an annex stating that the term of office of the government to extended from four to five years but it was not read out to the assembly approving the constitution nor was it approved along with the constitution.
On the other hand, the Farole administration legitimized the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations against his repulsive acts, jailing political opponents, elders and civil society, not because they were causing terrible and insecurity but because they were expressing their opinions in a peaceful manner. The government system became a nepotistic entity which could not represent different groups in the state with their different political ideologies.
We would take this opportunity to turn your attention to the complicated and authoritarian style of Farole Administration in Puntland that we cannot afford to tolerate it for one more year. Your Excellencies, we would like to ask you to intervene the situation. Your intervention would be much appreciated for the prevention of conflict, insecurity and anarchy like the one in 2001.
A demonstration started in Gardo last week against the President’s plans to extend his term in office for another one year. Other demonstrations followed in Rako, Waiye and Jiriban district town of Karkaar and Mudug regions. Similarly, there were other demonstrations against visiting members of the electoral commission in Galkayo and Buhodle. The demonstrators gathered in the streets shouting “No extension, we need free and fair elections”. Clan elders’ office in Bosaso and Garowe were also shutdown by the government and took the chairs and tables from their offices.
All these things are happening because the current government is planning to extend its term in office, by rescheduling the elections date in 2013, which is an illegal act, and against the will of the Puntland people. This is another sign showing the authoritarian rule of the administration in defying the choices of the people.
We believe that the government is trying to take advantage of the democratization process by delaying the whole process in its four years in office and by launching the new campaign now to register political parties in Puntland just three months before the Presidential elections, a deliberate move intended to prolong the President’s term in office.
Regarding our previous experience and conflict in 2001, which caused huge human casualties and material losses, we are recommending the following points:
Dr Mohamed Ali Yusuf
Puntland Former Vice President
And Finance Minister