By Abdirahman Mohamed Jama (Awxoog), elected Member of Somaliland Parliament
The five-year strategy by the ruling Kulmiye Party of strangling Somaliland’s democratization process is now a foregone conclusion. Ahmed Mohamed Mahmud Silanyo’s bid to continue occupying the Somaliland Presidency after the expiration of his constitutional five-year term is underway by the chairman of the party, Muse Behi, during his ongoing tour of the ancient northern town of Burao. He recently stated that, “come the 26th of June, the term of president Silanyo shall be extend at whatever costs.”
At the same function in Burao, Behi also claimed that the opposition parties of Waddani and Ucid and more specifically their leaders Abdirahman Irro and Feisal Ali Warabe, respectively, were responsible for circumstances that make mid-2015 presidential and parliamentary elections untenable. While Silanyo and his Kulmiye Party have the right to title of the Somaliland Presidency and the ruling party, a number of factors have seen Somalilanders crave for a change to negate a second stint.
That cry for change is coming from a hungry and demoralized citizenry. It comes from all walks of life and from each and every corner of Somaliland.
Enormous national difficulties have been meted out by the Silanyo administration in all possible areas but the four most poignant challenges are the systematic destruction visited upon the once thriving democratization process, the loss of cohesion and coexistence among diverse communities, the backward moving push for recognition that results from a lackluster foreign policy and the deflated livelihoods that have come through a nepotism at all levels of government.
These maladies and many more are what leaves the common man and woman in Somaliland crying for change through democratic norms. Thus it is an imperative that their demand not to postpone June elections that many believe shall herald a new administration and a much longed for reversal of national ills visited upon Somalilanders in a short span of five-years by the Kulmiye party.
The booming economy of Somaliland during the tenure of ex-president Dahir Riyale Kahin saw even the poorest of citizens gain access to three meals a day. This progress is now in shambles under the supervision of the current administration as even those not among the poorest are finding it difficult to feed their families twice a day or keep their children in school regularly.
Though the government of the Kulmiye Party never stop reminding Somalilanders that it has increased the salaries of civil servants by 100%, it also never mentions that it is responsible for the skyrocketing inflation that has resulted in an upward increase in the exchange rate that has forced citizens to dig deeper into their pockets for even the most basic necessities.
Now as the common citizen goes on suffering, a small clique of connected people are living like kings and queens courtesy of the Kulmiye Party that has perfected “back-patting” support to its die hard yes men and women. These people are given their payback through lucrative government tenders that lack a legal bidding process. Bidders are now regularly accused of non-fulfillment of contractual obligations as deals enrich only the government and its sponsors.
The second clique of yes people behind Kulmiye benefit through presidential appointments to the very many government agencies (Parastatals) which they do not manage but RULE with carte blanche authority emanating from Somaliland’s 100% non-revenue inspection or accountability. This is despite the fact that they are allocated funds in the annual national budget from the central coffers.
An influx of lowly educated and unskilled operatives holding positions at all levels of authority is a result of the ‘our time to eat’ nepotistic art perfected by the sitting administration that believes that its five years in office is equivalent to ‘eating time’.
Somaliland which is acclaimed internationally as a bastion of security in the chaotic Horn region is slowly sliding towards a calculated insecurity perpetrated by the Kulmiye government in order to ensure a term extension for president Silanyo.
During the previous reign of President Rayale’s UDUB Party, a number of political controversies erupted like in Somaliland’s Kalshale region and the Khatumo secession movement in the Sool region. Yet the political acumen and peaceful co-existence agenda pursued was able to ensure security even to the extent of having Las Anod citizens forcefully remove the Puntland administration from a border town. Under the current government, the Kalshale dispute has escalated, the Khatumo secessionism movement has become a reality, and there is increasing strife in the Awdal region (fronted by Sultan Abikar Wabar).
In addition to the above disputes that have resulted in massive loss of life, another insecurity issue reared its ugly head in the wanton killing of uniformed armed forces personnel by their colleagues. One of these incidents saw the death of Corporal Aidaruss Awale from a hail of bullets fired by Private Mustafa Salah Samatar at the Gambada military base in Sool region.
In mid-September 2014 Captain Mohamed Aw-Rabah Yusuf and Lieutenant Jama Mahmud Hadi, the commanding officer and operations officer of Somaliland’s 17th army battalion respectively were killed at their Qorilugud military post in Togdeer region by a soldier under their command.
While five officers were convicted to various custodial sentences for complicity in the QoriLugud murders by a military court martial, the culprit Serviceman Farah Mohamed Ismail, sentenced to death in absentia by the same court, remains at large more than a year after the incident.
Not only soldiers are being targeted but civilians as well with the media reporting on almost daily basis mysterious deaths that are never solved nor even pursued by police. At the same time anyone who opposes the administration or expresses divergent opinion sleeps uneasily through fear of having the dreaded Rapid Reaction Unit (RRU) knock on their doors in the wee hours of the morning.
The destruction that was meted upon the household of former deputy governor of Togdeer region Guleid Samatar is a good example. He was whisked from his Burao town residence in the middle of the night by the RRU in a raid that also resulted in the destruction of household property and the terrorizing his family.
But the saddest story is that of the former deputy interior minister in-charge of security Abdilahi Abokor Osman who was beaten outside of his house in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa and was held almost a year in Madera Maximum Security Prison.
These are prime examples that show how the Silanyo administration utilizes the full might at its disposal to muzzle those who speak out against the many injustices ongoing.
IV. Recognition and Foreign Policy
As for the 24-year quest for recognition of Somaliland’s unique status, the Kulmiye administration has overseen a major backward slide due to ineffective and ill-advised foreign policy. A case in point is the near closure of most Somaliland foreign representative offices that has resulted in the country lacking a foothold in important cities of the world. This has ensured that recognition of our sovereignty has been missing from the agendas of friendly governments.
An example of the important foreign offices closed is South Africa where the removal of the pre-Kulmiye government chief recognition campaigner Professor Iqbal Jhazbhay. This misfortune for Somaliland was a benefit to South Africa that quickly appointed him as their new ambassador to Eritrea.
What of the Somaliland passport that was being accepted during the Rayale by over ten countries? Today it is only Ethiopia that recognizes it as a legal travel document. In Djibouti you are required to leave your Somaliland Passport at the airport.
Another misfortune to befall our foreign policy and recognition drive is the talks entered upon with Somalia. Negotiators have been relegated to begging Mogadishu for a fair share of the foreign funds it receives as aid from various stakeholders worldwide. Never ending discussions of petty things like the airspace control are a constant reminder of Somaliland’s new status. Why should we beg Mogadishu for control of our airspace?
The President of the Somali Federal Government Hassan Sheikh Mahmud is on record several times claiming that the talks are designed to bring the Hargeisa administration under central rule as another regional government. This was further proven when former head of UNPOS (now UNSOM) Ambassador Augustine Mahiga came personally to Hargeisa to apologize to Somalilanders after the local media exposed communication in which Silanyo was addressed as the president of the Somaliland regional administration of Somalia.
While these maladies in our current foreign policy of ‘’give me my slice of the cake’’ are part of an endless long list, the most disturbing is the person appointed to spearhead Somaliland as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Behi Younis. Younis was touted as someone who could finally unlock doors to international recognition due to his services as a UNHCR food distributor in Darfur, Sudan. However, Behi has proceeded to undo all that done by his predecessor, Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar.
Dr. Omar was at first shelved to the Commerce Portfolio to pave way for the UN technocrat but was later fired for opposing the Silanyo kitchen cabinet. Today, he is accorded respect by most Somalilanders for the hope he created after every trip abroad, even to the extent of garnering the nickname “Maqam Sare” (high level). Just as the loss of Professor Iqbal’s talent was a benefit to others, Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar is currently a roving EU/AU Peace ambassador.
Now as for the claims that opposition politicians are responsible for the now apparently delayed presidential and parliamentary elections below are a few pointers to the contrary:
- ON Saturday, 15 November 2014, Somaliland Parliament (House of Representatives) has been occupied and seized by 400 security forces. It was the 20th anniversary of Somaliland’s own civil war.
- On 25th November 2014 while the Parliament was in recess, the speaker of the House of Representatives has convened an extraordinary session in which the MPs would have approved the new members of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Unfortunately Silanyo ordered his loyal group of MPs that are infamously nicknamed Mooshin-Quutayaal in Somali language (literally ‘motion eaters’) not to attend the session and not to approve the new members of the NEC.
- On 26th October 2014, was also the day that the speaker has invited the minister of Finance to do representations of the budget at the house of representatives. Silanyo also ordered his loyal MPs known as Moshin-Quuteyaasha to boycott the session and not to approve the budget which contains the funds to facilitate the elections of both the President and House of Representatives.
- The Silanyo government stopped NEC members to go to Nairobi for their Induction and training programme to Nairobi after the house of representatives approved them. Their journey was delayed to coincide with the Christmas Holidays. So that they stayed in their Hargeisa offices doing nothing for almost two months.
VI. Presidential Debate
A litany of these could go on forever but suffice is to say that the Kulmiye Party machinery is aware that a public vote would seal the regime’s doom. Crisis after crisis have left the Kulmiye Party with no apparent Presidential candidate other than Silanyo. Under Somaliland law, Presidential candidates like Silanyo, Cirro and Jamaal must participate in a presidential election debate similar to those of the United States. But the Kulmiye Party has fragmented and fallen into bits and pieces.
There are now many fighting factions and wings within Kulmiye party. To name a few:
- The far night faction
- The colonels’ and women faction
- The variable faction of mainly MPs wing
- The Far Left Ministers wing
The Kulmiye Party can not even agree on a date for its central committee conference. Every other day the incumbent Silanyo announces that he is a candidate and then immediately withdraws. Then the two Bihi’s & Sheikh Samaale pop up, squabble and fight over an abstract presidential candidacy.
The Waddani Party for the Future
Somaliland is hungry for change and Waddani is the party who can bring change and fairness to the Somaliland people. The presidential candidate for Waddani Party Mr. Abdirahman Irro is a shrewd politician and former diplomat who can unify Somalilanders. He can rebuild the shattered public morale and restore public trust in politicians that has been destroyed by Silanyo.
The Waddani party will restore the unity of Somalilanders by creating fairness and eliminating injustice that has been the norm of Silanyo’s government.
The Waddani Party will unify Somaliland people and will create harmony and cohesion among Somalilanders.
The Waddani Party stands for justice, peace and unity of Somaliland people.
The Waddani Party believes dialogue and reconciliation and does not BELIEVE armed confrontation to solve the problems of the Sool and Awdal regions.
The colonels’ and women’s faction of Kulmiye Party has already started an illegal propaganda campaign in the eastern regions of Somaliland. They started this campaign to prepare the public for unconstitutional and illegal extension of Silanyo’s term in office without conducting a free and fair election on 26th June 2015. This illegal extension of the president’s term will create instability not only in Somaliland but in the entire region of East Africa. It will also destabilize the already chaotic Red Sea and neighbouring countries.
In a worst case scenario, the tribal militias might be remobilized and long-term civil war could ignite again in Somaliland, thus reenacting the scenario prevalent in 1994 when brother turned against brother in a strife fronted by some people currently in top government and political leadership of the country .
The Silanyo puppets who are advocating for an illegal and unconstitutional extension have no reasons to delay the June elections. There are no wars, internal instability or natural disasters, as per the dictates of the Somaliland Constitution. It is the duty of the commission to draw the election road map or timeline without the interference of the government. The NEC has to declare and fix a date for the Presidential & Parliamentary elections and pass it to the President who has to announce immediately the election date fixed by the NEC sooner rather than later and without delay.
The Somaliland people are disillusioned and disappointed with the empty promises and false tactics of stone-laying from the west to the east of the country without completing a single sensible and tangible project. They are fed up with the illicit enrichment of the kitchen cabinet and they could not wait to unseat this corrupt government with their votes.