Puntland Political Crisis Threatens Peace In Bosaso

Tension remains high in Bosaso as the Puntland Security Forces (PSF) and forces loyal to Said Deni, the president of Puntland, face each other following the dismissal by decree of the PSF commander.

Said Deni tried last week to remove the PSF director Mahamud Osman Diyano and his officers. Deni has so far failed to implement his plan in the face of the PSF’s staunch refusal to comply with what they qualify as political plot.

The PSF forces, which consists of more than 3,000 troops and is designed to counter the threat posed by ISIS and Al-Shabaab, left their positions in mountains and set up camps in Bosaso in reaction to Deni’s decree.

Since then, the situation in Bosaso has grown even more tense as Said Deni has deployed a large number of troops. Three days ago, the Minister of Security of Puntland, Abdisamad Gallan, and the commander of the Darawish forces of Puntland, very critical of the position of the PSF leadership, did not hide their intention to invade the port city.

PSF officials for their part denied the allegations of the minister and the senior officer that it is a question of mutiny and not of politics. They remained firm in their rejection of the dismissal of the PSF leaders and rejected Gallan’s reasoning and plans to carry out the change in command.

The troops reaffirmed their respect that the residents of the area have for their hard work. They also said that the governments of Abdiweli Gaas and Abdirahman Farole recognized this work by promoting their officers. This further indicates that since Said Deni beat Asad Diyano in extremis in the Puntland presidential elections, he has done nothing for the PSF.

The biggest debate right now is not about the dismissal but about the timing. It is common knowledge that Deni is trying to grab the 16 seats of federal parliament in Bosaso in the upcoming elections. It is agreed, however, that if he does not control the PSF, he will not be able to carry out his plan.

According to experts on Puntland politics, the only way Deni can get hold of the PSF is to get rid of Osman Diyano’s children. The PSF forces were put together and commanded by Osman Diyano, then succeeded by his son Asad and later replaced by his brother Mohamud when Asad entered politics.

They have 11 years of experience in this force. It should be remembered that during the 2016 federal elections, some did not want the former Puntland leader Abdiweli Ali Gaas. The reason is that the PSF refused to plunder the seats of the clans. It is believed that they will also refuse to plunder the seats this year.

In short, for Said Deni, the way to Villa Somalia involves the usurpation of all the institutions in Puntland. To obtain all the seats, he wants to control all the institutions and rely on the security forces to quell any hint of resistance.

The PSF, as history has shown, is the last bastion of personalities who oppose his plan. And it is for this reason that he seeks whatever costs to control the PSF which is currently commanded by his rivals.

It is feared that any action from forces loyal to Deni could set on fire a region until now spared by major conflicts and compromise further Deni’s chance to be Somalia’s next president.

Omar Salad

Omar is an IT specialist based in Mogadishu.