Advocates of a strong Somali Government argue that federalism weakens Somali central administration, and the system Somalis agreed upon, following a vicious civil conflict in the country, is not working for Somalia and bound to fail. The proponents of this argument just shy away from declaring their intentions of directly promoting a unitary government, repeating the notion of installing the same mal-administration and tyranny that led to state failure as a result of city-state repression and violation of basic human rights. Many don’t acknowledge the fact that Somalia is still a federal state by name only, and even that is de facto rather than de jure as citizens fled to seek safe heavens in their original places of ancestry, following the Civil War. They also seem not to be aware of the fact that leaders of the Central Government, who were elected on the platform of Federal Constitution, paradoxically were undermining the very system they are elected to protect and uphold. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud 1 & 2, and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo were undeniably committed to doing away with Somalia’s fragile federalism. However, by attempting to unravel the system, they did more harm to the people’s trust in public institutions. Any argument for and against decentralization of Somalia’s governance which didn’t take into account the fact that federalism doesn’t take care of itself without concerted national efforts and intellectual power behind it, doesn’t deserve recognition in this debate.
Many Southern Somalia think tanks, media houses and prominent personalities are leading relentless campaigns to promote centralist approach to Somali governance. At forefront of these efforts are Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies and Hiiraan Online, just to mention a few. Another major impediment to federalism is secessionist attempt in Northwest Regions of Somalia, with many now promoting the idea that the Provisional Federal Constitution can’t be completed without Somaliland joining in. Others use these fresh political trends as excuses to prolong the status quo and freeze democratic aspirations of the Somali people. Secessionists in Northern Somalia are now resorting to military violence against resisting residents in Sool Region as they see diminishing returns for their unilateral attempt to break up Somalia.
Under this political environment, proponents of Federal System in Somalia like Puntland State of Somalia have no alternative to holding democratic elections and upholding the principles of free and open society. With this purpose in mind, politicians of Puntland origin, in particular, must appreciate the fact that the stakes are high now as Somalia’s governance is at crossroads. One must understand that public institutions in Puntland State are still fragile, if not rudimentary, to withstand against negative propaganda and ideological fights by opponents of federalism.