For the first time in the 20-year history of the regional state of Puntland, Somalia, the newly inaugurated fifth president, Saeed Abdullahi Deni, is said to be planning to include a central-Somaliland-born minister in the cabinet he would be tabling in within the next seven days or so.
Sources close to the Deni circle in Garowe have revealed that a certain ex-minister in previous Somaliland administrations, hailing from the Togdheer region of Somaliland, has been seen actively lobbying for a ministerial post in Garowe during the days leading to the inauguration. It is not clear whether his bid struck any cords with the President-elect to make him a front runner. That his name was entered on the President’s personal notes was certain, though.
A lady, who had, hitherto, been running the local NGO rounds in Somaliland and who is as unscrupulous as the male contender, was also seen attending Mr Deni’s inauguration ceremony after tendering in her desire to be included in the new cabinet, too. She is Hargeisa-born.
Sources say, neither of the above may not be the one Deni picks out springing a surprise nominee registered behind the curtains.
One thing is certain, sources point out, Deni is, up to now, adamant on nominating an Isaac Minister in the hope that, along with the number of Warsangeli and Dhulbahante ministers and MPs he has, he can break Somaliland’s backbone. If he does so, his argument to the international community would be that his government is no longer Daarood-based but is legitimately in dispute with Somaliland over territories that supersede the constricted clan circle which Puntland has thus far looked into for ministers and MPs.
The fact that President Farmajo, a number of his ministers, the Speakers of the Federal Houses, and the ‘presidents’ of other federal Somalia states are all there in Garowe for closer consultation on this and other critical matters, may lend President Deni the encouraging nudge he needs to turn his plans to practice.
They may dissuade him not to step into a more dangerous, potentially incendiary, politically suicidal, too.
Going by the thread of speeches at the inauguration ceremony, including that of Senator Faroole, a former President of Puntland, the only unifying factor among all the Somalia elements was opposition to Somaliland sovereignty based on its 1991 restoration of the independence it lost to the union with Italian Somalia in 1960.
Puntland had been running an often violent territorial dispute since inception in 1998 based on clan lineage in the regions of Sool, Sanaag, and Buuhoodle. It claims that the three regions are affiliated to the people of Puntland along clan lines, and as such are an integral part of Puntland. Forgetful of the fact that the two countries which formed the Somali Republic union in 1960 had internationally registered boundaries and the said regions were part and parcel of the British Protectorate of Somaliland.
However the issue of the rumored ministerial post (s) is settled or left out, Somaliland is watching the new president-elect more closely seeing in him a potentially more reckless gambler and adversary than his predecessors. The resumption or scrapping of Somaliland-Somalia talks would also largely depend on the outcome.