As Puntland inches nearer to the December presidential ‘elections’, security issues seem to be dominating attention more than should be the case in similar circumstances.
Not only that but also political shifts, sackings and corruption allegations training an untoward spotlight on President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gass’s state house.
Of late, several assassinations and direct presidential appointments, transfers and expulsions, triggered by a number of resignations and loyalty shifts have become the order of the day.
A presidential guard was killed in front of the Municipality offices in Bossasso at a time President Gass was touring the premises in person on Monday.
The regional state minister for environment resigned alleging that the President and his office are the architects of all that is ill in government, directly siphoning development funds, as well as government revenue, onto his own discretionary repertoire.
President Gass also started shifting officers who are ultra-loyal to him to positions of influence, removing possible ‘adversaries’.
To partly address a growing security threat in the region, Gass removed some of Puntland’s highest officers to replace them with hand-picked close allies at a time less than three months remain of his tenure in office.
In Bossasso, Daesh (ISIL) using hit squads, some of whom are said to be in the game purely for mercenary considerations, rears up its fearsome head again. Garowe, the capital of the federal state, is reported to be gearing up to dislodge the Galkayu-born president from the president to replace him either with a man from the city itself or nearby Qardho to the east.
To shore up his waning popularity, President Gass risked an armed confrontation with the Republic of Somaliland by paying a highly controversial visit to the eastern Sanaag city of Badhan, only about 90 kilometers from Erigavo, the regional capital near which one of the most heavily equipped Somaliland army garrisons is stationed. To further goad Somaliland into a costly confrontation he held his weekly ministerial cabinet meetings at that city. Traditionally, historically, politically and geographically Badhan is a Somaliland city and the only claim Mr. Gass has on the area is one based on ethnic affinity – a justification that Africa is not ready to accommodate or live with in relation to boundary demarcations.
President Gass, it was reported, dared not tamper with Somaliland presence in the region nor with its flag hovering over his presence in the city.