The election of Abdikarim Guled as president of the expanded and institutionally more inclusive Galmudug state is political development that can reverse the trend of under-development in South Mudug and Galguduud. It should not be a cause of concern for Puntland.
Puntland took offence at Galmudug for a constitution that claims districts under Puntland adminstration. Writers of Galmudug constitution assumed that Goldogob, Jarriiban and north Galka’ayo will be a part of the Galmudug administration. Ratified in Adaado, Galmudug constitution is a statement on the indivisibility of Mudug , a region jointly ruled by Puntland and Galmudug. It is Galmudug’s response to Puntland which has long argued that efforts to form a state for central regions contravene against the draft federal constitution that stipulates at least two regions can form a federal state.
Galmudug administration consists of one region ( Galguduud ) and 2 Mudug districts ( Hobyo and Haradhere). But what makes the two-region requirement unapplicable is the fact that Galmudug was a regional administration in its own right, and had a a role in ending of the transition period. Puntland has never questioned Galmudug’s territorial disadvantage before the state formation efforts for central regions had begun. It was content with Galmudug as tiny administration with multiple presidents despite security implications for Puntland.
Puntland leaders believe Galmudug has violated the 1993 Galka’yo agreement. Galmudug can counter such accusation with the counter-accusation that Puntland has tried to nip state formation efforts in the bud by invoking an irrelevant article in the draft constitution.
Galmudug constitution makes North Galka’yo, Goldogob and Jarriiban disputed territories similar to the territories Sool, Sanaag and Togdheer claimed by Somaliland and Puntland administrations. Territorial disputes affect lives of people: aid workers cannot visit Sool because of the territorial dispute and territorial wars since 2004.
By not insisting on the the two-region requirement to form a state Puntland will be able to persuade Galmudug to rewrite parts of its constitution about territorial claims on districts under Puntland. It is a dispute Galmudug and Puntland can resolve; it should not be referred to the Somali Federal Parliament whose speaker is partial in the eyes of Puntland administration.
Resolving the territorial dispute between Puntland and Galmudug could pave the way for resolving the territorial dispute between Somaliland, Puntland and Khatumo administrations. A well-functioning Galmudug administration will cooperate with Puntland on security and trade. It is the best opportunity for Puntland to disentangle itself from territorial disputes draining its energy and resources.