Gamal Hassan’s Eventful Passage Through Puntland

IIn recent days, the Somali public has been outraged by the harassment Gamal Hassan, the Federal Planning Minister, suffered upon arriving at Garowe Airport, Puntland, on his way to his hometown of Badhan, in the Sanag region.

The harassment did not end there. On his way back to Garowe, Puntland’s ruling class of which Said Deni, its nemesis, is the leader, hastily passed a law designed to deprive him of his security detail.

Setting the bar too high

As the Somali elections go painstakingly and many candidates fill hotel lobbies in Nairobi for their campaign, few politicians have the courage and clarity of thought to campaign in their home region and face their constituents’ questions.

Establishing a first in Somali politics, the minister is the only lawmaker to have done something tangible in his constituency. Unlike most Somali MPs, he has opened a constituency office in Dhahar where people can contact him and get the help they need.

As a good Member of Parliament, Mr. Hassan has represented his region tirelessly and truthfully. He implemented several projects in his native region, like paving the road connecting Erigabo-Dhahar to Bosaso, making Maakhir University a National University branch in the region and building a market and a hospital equipped with an ambulance for the people of Sanag.

Following in the Minister’s footsteps would be a game-changer in the political life of Somalia, where public accountability and diligence are non-existent, but for once the record is set for other politicians.

Deni’s worry

At a meeting with the public in Garowe, Minister Hassan did not mince his words in revealing the degree of corruption and nepotism that reigns in the Puntland administration circle.

He publicly lambasted the ruling class, which he described as “mercenaries”, busy lining their pockets, or placing their friends and families in key positions and ignoring their public’s basic needs.

Gamal Hassan has brought to light all that is wrong with Deni’s leadership in Puntland. There is the intimidation he suffered which shows that Deni is an aspiring dictator and that the abuses of his security forces against him demonstrate the degree of authoritarianism in the region.

The minister of planning has also clearly explained that Said Deni is primary responsible for the Puntland’s dwindling share in the federal budget and national projects, resulting from the actions he took during his time at the federal planning ministry in 2014.

The very fact that Gamal Hassan met Puntland residents and openly answered all their questions shows the huge gap between the leadership of some and the mediocrity of others.

Rift in the government

It is worth mentioning that his own Prime Minister who made a fuss by sacking Abdullahi Kulane, a high-ranking security agent, for having, according to him, “harassed” a politician on his way to campaign in his region, did not even not reacted to his ordeal.

The other interesting revelation is that none of his colleagues, deputies or ministers from Puntland, like Mohamed Abdirizak, the Foreign Affairs minister, came to support Mr. Hassan or to denounce this blatant intimidation of a colleague who is also a candidate.

This silence by Prime Minister Mohamed Roble and other cabinet ministers in the region shows that there has been a rift in the government since Roble sided with the opposition and distanced himself from ministers close to the president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

The grandeur, restraint and professionalism displayed by Gamal Hassan, in the face of Said Deni’s wickedness, is an example to follow for any politician who wants to leave his mark in the political life of this country.

AbdiQani Badar

AbdiQani Badar is a historian, political commentator and avid writer. He has written extensively on Somali issues and historical events.