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That Freedom Shall not Perish

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Suicide attack against meeting organised by Finns thwarted in Somaliland

by Helsingin Sanomat, Nov 13, 2009

Security officials in Somaliland narrowly thwarted a terror attack that had been planned against a peace conference in the town of Hargeisa last Sunday. The gathering of clan leaders had been organised by Finn Church Aid, the foreign aid arm of the Finnish Lutheran Church.

Ten kilos of powder-based explosives were found in the possession of two uninvited guests. The aim was apparently to conduct a suicide attack against the meeting of the chiefs of the Hawie clan.

Such an attack would have put the lives of seven Finnish citizens at risk.

The events began to unfold on Friday, when about 30 clan leaders flew from the Somali capital Mogadishu to the Hargeisa meeting. Also on board the commercial flight were two young men. At the destination they boarded a bus taking the participants in the meeting to their hotel.

The hotel’s security personnel made note of the nervous behaviour of the two. Organisers of the meeting also noted that there were two people there who had not been invited.

“Their room was searched, and explosives suitable for use in a suicide attack were found in their possession”, said Antti Pentikäinen, executive director of Finn Church Aid, who spoke by telephone from Washington.

Pentikäinen himself was to have attended the meeting on Sunday, its opening day, but the trip was cancelled after the terror plot was unveiled.

The suspects were arrested, and they have been interrogated by local officials. The identity of the suspected would-be bombers has not been disclosed, nor is there any information on what rebel group they might belong to. News of the incident apparently has not been reported in Somaliland itself.

On the basis of previous suicide attacks, the main suspect is the al-Shabab movement, which controls the south of Somalia. Al-Shabab introduced the practice of suicide attacks to Somalia a few years ago, and the movement is believed to have links with the al-Qaeda network.

After the plot was unveiled, the organisers considered cancelling the meeting. However, it began on schedule on Sunday.

“Security arrangements are at the maximum. The meeting will proceed only if security can be guaranteed”, Pentikäinen says.

The planned attack will not stop meetings aimed at peace from being organised in the future, Pentikäinen says. However, he adds that the situation will make it necessary to re-evaluate how the security of participants and organisers can be guaranteed.

“In Somalia, we are trusted as organisers of meetings of this type. Under no circumstances do we plan to pull out. When we have collected all information about this event, we will ponder how the risks could be minimised in the future.”

He sees the case as a worrying example of how security for aid organisations has deteriorated in recent years, especially in fragile states such as Somalia.

Finn Church Aid has organised gatherings of clan chiefs and religious leaders in Somalia for a year and a half already. The meetings are low-profile events set up for airing the views of local leaders on how the peace process in Somalia should proceed.

Pentikäinen emphasises that Finn Church Aid dies not bring its own agenda to the peace process. Instead, it seeks to support local communities, and to communicate their views to the international community.


Somaliland stability 'at risk' http://english.aljazeera.net/November 11, 2009

Tensions over the Somaliland presidential election has given rise to fears that the self-declared republic could become a failed state like its neighbour Somalia

Somaliland has been hailed as a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa region since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991.

But Al Jazeera's Mohamed Adow, reports that some experts now believe the self-declared republic is at crisis point, as an election row deepens.

The current tension in Somaliland centres on the presidential election, which was due to have been held on September 27.

The polls have been postponed indefinitely due to serious differences between the political parties since 2008.

This uncertainty has led to increased concern about Somaliland in the international community, and a flare-up of political animosity within the territory.

Recent violence, particularly in the capital Hargeysa, has shown that the crisis in Somaliland has changed from being political to one of security and stability.

Fears over the crisis have even led one senior political figure to warn that it could become another failed state, like neighbouring Somalia.

Somaliland is a former British protectorate in north western Somalia. In 1960, it gained its independence and united with what was then Italian Somaliland to form the Somalia republic.

Limited democracy

In 1991, it declared independence after Mohamed Siad Barre, the Somali military leader, was overthrown.

Despite the unrest in September, Somaliland has a relatively stable democracy.

Somaliland has a population of 3.5 million people, according to government estimates, and is a relatively stable democracy even though it has not been internationally recognised.

This is partly because it has developed a unique hybrid system of government.

The row over elections - largely seen as a test for this fledgling nation - threatens to divide it.

Afyare Elmi, a Somali political analyst, told Al Jazeera: "The concerns are real. The opposition fears the government is not interested in holding this election and there is a lot at stake. Unless these elections take place, they might have some problems.

"However, if history tells us anything, the Somaliland leadership has shown that at least they could address with traditional leadership the issues when they arise."

The hope now rests with a recently appointed electoral commission, entrusted with the task of organising elections, a step seen as vital to Somaliland's quest for international recognition.


Somaliland Surviving the Agonizing Process of International Recognition.

Source: ISS. Alemayehu Behabtu, Researcher, Peace and Security Council Report Programmee (PRP), ISS Addis Ababa Office

09 November 2009 (Somalilandpress)-On 18 May 2009, the self-declared ‘Republic of Somaliland’ marked eighteen years since it proclaimed independence seceding from the rest of Somalia. Even after nearly two decades of self-rule, however, the international community remains hesitant to recognize the breakaway territory as a functioning sovereign state. Yet Somaliland leaders remain undiscouraged by the apparent lack of enthusiasm and inaction by the international community, including, most importantly, the African Union (AU). As a result, the messages coming out of Somaliland often refer to ‘the irreversible independence’ or almost of ‘no return to the union with Somalia’.

claim to statehood is being made on the basis that the territory has had historically separate status for a brief period following independence from Britain in June 1960. The next month, in July 1960, the former colonies of Italy and Britain voluntarily established a unitary nation-state known as Somalia. Almost immediately the leadership in Somaliland regretted this decision and begun to wage a secessionist struggle against Siad Barre’s misrule for two decades. Barre’s forces pursued Somaliland armed movements killing tens of thousands of people and destroying infrastructure in the region. This experience of brutal political repression and military atrocities fostered the emergence of the Somali National Movement (SNM) in 1981, which waged a secessionist struggle, leading to the collapse in 1991 of the Somalia state and the eventual declaration of independence by Somaliland.

Since then, the Somaliland government has been persistent in its pursuit of official recognition. It declared the territory a ‘Republic’ in 2002 and wrote to the AU asking it to send a fact-finding mission to see the viability of the de facto state. In response, the AU dispatched, between April 30 to May 4 2005, a mission led by its former Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission Mr Patrick Mazimhaka. Later the same year, in December, Somaliland’s President Dahir Rayale Kahin submitted a formal application for admission to the AU, pleading for recognition as a fully active member of the continental body.

Despite the lack of international recognition, Somaliland has the primary constitutive components evident in most nation-states including: an internally accepted political system; institutions of governance; a police force; and its own currency. But the lack of recognition has significantly impeded the territory’s overall progress. In this regards, the AU observer mission report had noted that ‘the lack of recognition ties the hands of the authorities and people of Somaliland, as they cannot effectively and sustainably transact with the outside to pursue the reconstruction and development goals’. The AU fact-finding mission has also concluded that the situation was sufficiently ‘unique and self-justified in African political history’ and recommended that the AU ‘should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case’.

Following the above rather sympathetic gesture, president Rayale, on 16 May 2006, met with the then AU Commission Chairperson, Alpha Oumar Konaré to discuss Somaliland’s application for membership. Somaliland authorities’ argue that their claim is consistent with article III of the OAU charter and article IV of the Constitutive Act of the AU, which states that the Union shall function in accordance with the principles of respect for the borders existing on achievement of independence. They also infer the experience of other states, including in Africa, acceptance of self-determination, such as recognition given to Bangladesh, Eritrea, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia.

Given the AU’s sensitivity about the maintenance of colonially inherited borders, the 2005 mission report could be seen as exceptionally sympathetic. But so far the organization has taken no further concrete action. Instead the AU’s current efforts are focused overwhelmingly on south/central Somalia. The organization in 2006 deployed a peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in support of the fragile Transitional Federal Government (TFG), that is presently battling with Islamist insurgents. In effect, since president Kahin had submitted an application for membership four years back, there is no breakthrough at the continental organization or at member states level.

Regardless of the lack of progress on formal recognition, Somaliland still attracts significant attention, as the region occupies a strategic position near the world’s major oil transport routes and major power wants to see it guarded carefully. Consequently the self-declared republic has established political contacts with a number of countries. Ethiopia and the UK insist that Somaliland deserves encouragement and support as the self-proclaimed state has provided an area of relative stability in the volatile Horn sub-region.

In a similar context, Somaliland has also established significant contacts with Belgium, Ghana, South Africa, Sweden, and Djibouti. Moreover, in early 2007, the European Union sent a delegation to discuss future cooperation; while President Kahin led his own delegation and attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala, Uganda. In December 2007 the Bush administration also considered whether to back the shaky transitional government in Somalia or to acknowledge the less volatile Somaliland secessionists. Recently the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, was quoted as saying: ‘We will open a new UN political affairs office in Hargeisa …[and] this office will further advance UN funding support to Somaliland in the fields of maritime security and counterterrorism.’

However, before Somaliland gets recognition by the rest of the international community, it needs full and formal legal recognition from the AU. Since President Kahin has submitted a formal application pleading for recognition four years back, there is no breakthrough at the AU or member state level. While it is normal to feel sympathetic to Somaliland’s agony in this process, it is equally understandable to see the rationale behind why the AU remains indecisive on the matter. There are indeed risks for the AU to say ‘yes’ to Somaliland’s request for recognition and set the ‘wrong precedent’. At least from the Union’s perspective, the principal objection against recognition is the strong reservation African governments have about revising borders inherited from colonial times. This is a legitimate concern that cannot be ignored, given the heterogeneity of the majority of African states and the possibility that many may face with the proliferation of similar ethnic and secessionist movements. Other potential risks relate also to the nature of the relationship that is going to be forged between Somaliland and Somalia. Central in this case is whether the two will create friendly relations, through which mutual recognition will be exchanged. Currently, there is a serious threat of Islamists controlling most of the territories of the South and central Somalia. Such elements could aim to infiltrate Somaliland, de-stabilise it and take it over with the support of local Islamists. Moreover, Somaliland is in dispute with the neighbouring autonomous Somali region of Puntland over the Sanaag and Sool areas, some of whose inhabitants owe their allegiance to Puntland and could lead to further destablisation of the sub-region.

To conclude, Somaliland has persevered for 18 years as an independent state, hoping that it will one day get the attention of the international community, especially that of the AU. The debate whether the breakaway territory deserves recognition as well as the implications of it continues. Coupled with its electoral crisis, presently it has become clearer that without recognition, it remains hard to tell how long Somaliland’s relative peace and stability can last. It is critical, therefore, that the international community shows foresight. In particular, the AU has yet to act decisively on the matter. Meanwhile, the people of Somaliland still continue to live with the agony of waiting to hear from the decisionmakers whether they will be a recognised “Republic” or not.


Somalia: Premier Somaliland Boarding School Begins Inaugural Year

http://allafrica.com/stories/200911100780.html, 9 November 2009

This week marked the beginning of the Abaarso Tech 2009 – 2010 school year. AT is pleased to announce that all 51 students who received an invitation, committed to Abaarso Tech's four year secondary program and many more students expressed their desire to join the school.

Of the 51 students accepted, 30 boarding students were chosen as a result of scoring in the top 1% of the country on the Somaliland 8^th Grade Exit Exam and then further passing an exam administered by SOS and AT. This diverse group draws from all over Somaliland, including the distant Eastern regions, with 20% of students coming from Sanaag and Sool.

Abaarso Tech's 21 day students were selected from a pool of students who fell just below the top 1% on the Somaliland 8th Grade Exit Exam, were recommended by their principals, or attended our September program. This group then took a separate AT exam which tested math, logic, science and writing. With an acceptance rate well under half of those students applying, the AT faculty is extremely pleased with the day students selected and thus far those children are proving every bit as good as those who are boarding.

Initially, Abaarso Tech did not anticipate having the capacity to house female students in its first year. However, the school recently received a grant commitment from Horseed Inc. (a non-profit organization committed to supporting education in Somalia) to put towards the construction of a temporary girls dormitory. As such, AT was able to accept 8 girls in its inaugural boarding school class and 15 overall. In the future, when proper dormitories are constructed for both boys and girls, this structure will become the Abaarso Tech biology/chemistry Lab.

Abaarso Tech is a world class secondary boarding school designed to take the best students from across Somaliland, provide them with four years of practical curriculum and intensive English classes. At the end of their time with Abaarso Tech, students should be well equipped to seek opportunities in Somaliland and abroad that they would not have had access to otherwise. Abaarso Tech is also running professional training for teachers and starting development projects in the village of Abaarso.


SOMALIA: Saudi livestock move boosts Somaliland economy

HARGEISA, 10 November 2009 (IRIN) - Days after Saudi Arabia lifted a nine-year ban on livestock imports from Somalia, the market in Hargeisa, Somaliland, has seen a 10-fold increase in sales, according to local traders.

"One thousand five hundred sheep used to be sold in the market before the recent announcement... compared to more than 16,000 animals in the market daily in the last few days," Jama Farah Du’alle, a middleman (`dilal’) in the market, told IRIN on 7 November.

Livestock keepers in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, whose mainstay is pastoralism, said they were beginning to see a change in their fortunes.

"In the last nine years I used to earn 5,000-10,000 Somaliland shillings a day [US $1.6 - 3.2] but by Allah’s mercy in the past few days I have been earning 60,000-70,000 a day, which has really improved my life," Du’alle said.

Somaliland’s livestock minister, Idiris Ibrahim Abdi, announced the Saudi move on 5 November. Imposed in late 2000, the ban followed an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the Horn of Africa region.

RVF is an acute viral infectious disease of humans, cattle and sheep, which usually occurs during the rainy season. Clinically it is characterized by fever, loss of body coordination and sudden death.

Saudi Arabia, which used to be the biggest buyer of Somali livestock, said it had lifted the ban to coincide with the `haj’ pilgrimage later in November.

Better days for Berbera

The decision allows livestock keepers to ship animals to Saudi Arabia through Somaliland's traditional livestock port of Berbera. In the past, the port also served livestock trucked from the neighbouring Ethiopian regions of Somali and Oromiya.

Berbera had been losing its importance as a business centre since 2000. Thousands of people there moved to other towns such as Hargeisa and Burao.

"[Most] of the young men who used to work in the livestock export business as animal herders on vessels heading to Saudi Arabia, have moved to Arab countries or other urban centres within Somaliland," a local resident said.

The Saudi decision, according to local pastoralists, has renewed hope that Somali livestock can fetch a good price. "We have suffered in the last few years because of the ban; our animals had no value in the market.

"For example one lamb was valued at only about US$20, which is much less than the cost of foodstuff," said Rashid Haybe Illeeye, from the Lebi-Sagaale region along the Somaliland-Ethiopia border.

"Today I came with four lambs as usual - to buy food - and three of them were bought at $40-50," Illeeye said.

A local journalist based in Burao told IRIN that the lifting of the ban was a boon to all. "The market has not seen such activity for nine years," he explained. "The whole of Burao - from tea ladies, truckers and nomads, to porters - is doing a booming business."


Somaliland police arrest two linked to Daallo hijack

ERIGAVO, 09 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Two men believed to be linked to a recent attempt to hijack a Daallo airliner in the neighboring Somali port town of Bosaso were arrested by Somaliland state police in the town of Erigavo.

The men who have not yet been unidentified were arrested on Sunday morning as they entered Erigavo from Bosaso by car.

It is believed that Somaliland police were informed in advance of the men by Puntland authorities who want them to be extradited to Bosaso to face charges.

On Tuesday, two men armed with pistols boarded the plane bound for Djibouti at an airport in Bossaso in a bid to kidnap two German passengers. Half-way the flight the pilot outwitted the hijackers and returned the plane and its passengers back to Bosaso where they were met by police


Somalia: Somaliland Court Sentences Men Charging They Were Behind Blast in Las Anod Town

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu) 8 November 2009

A high court of Somali's break away republic of Somaliland in Sol region has Sunday said that it will bring several men to justice after accusing they were the mastermind of a blast which killed high officials of Somaliland recently.

Reports from Las Anod town say that the troops of Somaliland were conducting search operations in the town in over the past days capturing more people including businessmen who were all connected to have links with the explosion in Las Anod town in north Somalia.

Mohamed Cabdullahi, one of the peacemakers in Sol region told Shabelle Radio that the Somaliland forces arrested 80 people whom most of them were children and women during their operations adding that they had recently demonstrated against Somaliland administration in Las Anod.

The latest reports from the region say that at least 6 people who were one of the detainees are supposed to bring before the court of the Somaliland administration in Sol region.


Somali livestock exports to jump as Saudi ban ends

MOGADISHU (Reuters, November 07, 2009) - Somali livestock exports to the Gulf States are expected to double to one million animals this month after the Saudi government lifted a long-standing ban, traders and a company official said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia, formerly the biggest buyer of Somali livestock, lifted the nine-year ban this week to secure meat supplies for haj pilgrims. Riyadh had imposed it due to concerns about a lack of proper health screening in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Somalia has had no central government for 18 years and livestock exports, along with bananas and fish, are the mainstay of its trade with the Middle East.

"The demand is higher because of the haj and we expect a hundred percent increase. I suspect that we can meet the needs of the market," said Iman Ali, chairman of exporting firm East Africa Livestock.

He told Reuters that 60,000 livestock were ready to be exported to Saudi Arabia in a few days, but the business faced many problems.

On top of frequent fighting between Islamist insurgents and the forces of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, bad weather, dilapidated infrastructure and piracy were hindering trade.

"Though we plan to send more livestock, heavy rains, poor roads and increased insurance premiums are hampering transportation to our partners in the Gulf," Ali said.

Animal exports account for 40 percent of Somalia's Gross Domestic Product. The Middle East is the main export destination with other Asian countries accounting for very small portions of the trade.

"Lifting of the ban is most welcome news in our village... merchants are coming to our villages and even in the remote areas to buy sheep and goats," said Muhumad Soomane, a farmer in Wallaweyn, 90 km southwest of Mogadishu.

The semiautonomous Puntland region in the northeast is expected to contribute 60 percent of the livestock heading to the Middle East market.

Ahmed Hussein, livestock minister in Putland's regional government, said it would invest in the port of Bossaso to allow it to cope with increased exports. "We are working on renovating and completing all necessary equipments for Bossaso port after resumption of exports to Saudi," he said.


Somalia: Livestock-based economy receives major boost

6 November 2009 / by Konye Obaji Ori, http://en.afrik.com/article16430.html

Somalia’s livestock-based economy has received a major boost as its major market, Saudi Arabia lifts its 11 year ban on imported livestock from Somalia. The lift comes after many Somali farmers suffered from the severe east African droughts that dried the soil and dehydrated livestock to death. Last month, a U.S. based NGO embarked on a project that saw some 2000 families in the autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, from livestock supplies.

"The livestock still hasn’t recovered from the 2005 drought. And already we have to confront a new drought. The drought cycle is getting shorter and shorter - every three or four years instead of every 10," a district veterinary official was quoted by local reporters.

Saudi Arabia banned the import of sheep, goats and cattle from Somalia to prevent the spread of Rift Valley fever, but after 11 years, the ban has been lifted. According to Somaliland Interior Minister Ismail Adam Osman, the ban has caused a great suffering to Somaliland whose economy depended mainly on livestock export.

The Saudi agricultural ministry said the decision is based on years of cross examination and monitoring of animal farms in Somalia.

Animal farmers and business leaders have welcomed the decision with extensive jubilation. Pastoralists and traders now prepare to profit from increased demand for livestock in the forthcoming Eid al-Adha festival when Muslims demand for livestock is high; following the traditional sacrifice of an animal.

The lifting of the ban was announced in a press statement from the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture yesterday. The Ministry said the lifting came to secure supplies of livestock at reasonable prices to locals and pilgrims during the upcoming Eid Al-Adha and the Hajj season. It emphasized the Ministry would strictly enforce animal health legislation and scan all imported live animals for possible diseases.

"This is a tremendous decision for Somalis across the Horn of Africa," said Idiris Ibrahim Abdi, the livestock minister of Somaliland.

The Puntland Meat Processing Authority told reporters that they expect to export more than half a million herds of goats and cattle to Saudi Arabia in time for the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, which will be performed by early December.

According to experts, the self-declared republic of Somaliland is expected to achieve major economic gains from the reopened Saudi market. In Somaliland, were political stability provides farmers with predictable conditions, a boost in livestock production and an export is easily manageable.

Help for Puntland

A California-based NGO, Relief International, on October 13, helped hundreds of drought-displaced families recover their livelihoods, in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, with each family receiving some animals. The project was reported to have benefited over 2,000 families.

"Some 900 families in Tawakal camp have received three goats each; it is the first time that anyone has given us anything other than a few kilos of maize. Three goats may not seem a lot but for us it is a good beginning as, in the long run, it will free us from waiting for maize handouts," Hawo Goni, a community leader in the camp was quoted.

Africa is already home to one-third of the 42 million people worldwide uprooted by ethnic slaughter, despots and war. But experts say climate change is quietly driving Africa’s displacement crisis to new heights. The crisis is apparent at this refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border, which was built for 90,000 people and now houses three times as many.

Other than the 18 year civil war, many Somalia’s have been driven out of their homes by rising seas, failing rain, desertification or other climate-driven factors. The climate situation in East Africa is a reminder that behind the science, statistics and debate over global warming, climate change is already having a deep impact on Africa’s poverty, security and culture.


Somaliland and NATO officials meet aboard warship.

Source Geeska Afrika, Nov 05, 2009

Berbera (Qarannews) - Somaliland government officials and officers from the NATO forces on patrol against pirates in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean met aboard a naval warship off the coast of Berbera.

The meeting took place aboard a NATO warship anchored off the coast of Berbera. Participating in the meeting on the Somaliland side were members of the government, officials from the Sahil regional authority, the head of the port of Berbera and officers from the Somaliland coast guard and security services.

There was no official communiqué from the meeting, but sources confirm that the main agenda of the meeting concentrated on areas of mutual interest between Somaliland and NATO in combating high sea piracy in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The Somaliland coast guard has been active in safeguarding the shipping lanes from pirates operating out of Somalia.

According to eyewitness on the scene the meeting lasted approximately two hours after which the NATO warship headed for the high seas and the Somaliland delegation returned ashore.

In related news, a ship carrying supplies from the World Food Programme docked at the port of Berbera yesterday with logistics destined for Ethiopia.


Somalia's main export market reopened

http://www.afrol.com/articles/34628, 5 November - Saudi Arabia officials have announced that the 9-year ban on import of livestock from Somalia, including Somaliland, is lifted. Thus, Somalia's main export trade may be resumed, promising much needed revenues for Somali farmers.

Following an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever on the African Horn nine years ago, the Saudi government placed a ban on livestock imports from the region. Livestock represents the major export commodity from Somalia, with Saudi Arabia being the main market. Thus, the ban, which was expected to be short-lived, strongly affected the rural economy of Somalia.

With the Rift Valley Fever long gone, Somalia and the breakaway state of Somaliland have lobbied for the lifting of the ban, holding Saudi Arabia was causing major damage to their economies. However, with now good animal health infrastructure and quarantine centres in place, the Saudis had sufficient formal reasons to keep the ban in place.

During the latest years, therefore, Somalis have found alternative routes to send parts of their livestock production to Saudi Arabia. Recent Saudi press reports have documented widespread smuggling of Somali livestock into national markets.

Observers in Saudi Arabia and Somalia therefore claim the sudden lifting of the ban is caused by this increased smuggling. 'Al Riyadh' newspaper, relating the two issues, holds Saudi agriculture authorities calculate animal health risks are better controlled by legalising the trade, thus enabling government to screen arriving animals.

The meat market in Saudi Arabia is large, especially during festive seasons, necessitating large imports of especially sheep. Since the ban on Horn livestock, meat prices have increased and bottlenecks are registered in peak seasons such as Eid.

For Somali producers, prices achieved on the Arabian market are far better than in neighbouring African countries. Also efforts by Somali and Somalilander authorities to get access to new markets such as Egypt have proved short-lived.

The livestock trade therefore has been unpredictable for Somali farmers during the last decade, with uncertainties on export markets regarding volumes and prices. Also, the illegal exports to Saudi Arabia are far from as profitable as legal exports will be.

In particular, the self-declared republic of Somaliland is expected to achieve major economic gains from the reopened Saudi market. In Somaliland, were political stability provides farmers with predictable conditions, a boost in livestock production and an export is easily manageable.

"The ban has caused a great suffering to Somaliland whose economy depended mainly on livestock export," Somaliland Interior Minister Ismail Adam Osman said in an appeal to Arab nations a few years ago, lobbying for the lifting of the ban.

The lifting of the ban was announced in a press statement from the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture yesterday. The Ministry said the lifting came to secure supplies of "livestock at reasonable prices" to locals and pilgrims during the upcoming Eid Al-Adha and the Hajj season. It emphasised the Ministry would strictly enforce animal health legislation and scan all imported live animals for possible diseases.


The Identification of Governance - Westphalian frameworks and geo- cultural understanding

By Marta Edebol, http://www.apd-somaliland.org/news/20091027martaarticle.htm

Despite its participation in the establishment of Somaliland's state template, the clan system is often neglected or simplified by scholars when being described in dualistic terms either as the core of the conflict facing Somalia's south, or as a phenomena too redundant for inclusion in the discussion concerning Somaliland's development processes. (Palmberg, 1999:64, 75, Meredith, 2006:154; Barth, 1969:16) Though, when included in development dynamics, the clan system is often identified as crucial for Somaliland's societal structure. In fact, I.M. Lewis describes kinship as the key to understanding conflict resolution, trade, and the entire political structure of the Somali society, and goes as far as identifying the social institution as the primary social organization of Somalia. (Bradbury, 2008:12-13) If this is even slightly the case one might ask why the clan system is so often excluded in development coherence. In fact, the whole concept seems rarely illustrated and instead only tenuously defined and discussed in development contexture.

Based on the ideas of Björn Hettne and Hans Abrahamson, the meager understanding of the clan concepts and its relation to Somaliland's state machinery might be due to the very definition of the role of the state. This, by claiming our international order, is constructed from the nation- state system 300 years ago starting with the Peace of Westphalia 1648, rigidly identifying the imagined needs and responsibilities of the state, based upon the conceptualization of sovereignty, central authority, security and justice. (Hettne, 2005) Somaliland's clan system, providing its members with 'security' and 'justice' while maintaining social construction of behavior, is therefore systematically ignored by the Westphalian order of understanding authority and security as centralized phenomena independent from social structures and non- state governance. (Abrahamson, 2003:a) Hence, Somaliland's use of geo- cultural factors goes beyond the essential functions and actors of governance as defined by the Westphalian order, creating another point of departure neglected by narrow modern- state templates.

To understand the importance of social institutions in nation building processes in the Horn of Africa it is crucial to learn from its historical experiences. The several foreign and colonial attempts striving for western state models have failed which indicates an even greater failure when the progresses of today's Somalia could not expand before International actors rest their case and held back its help efforts. The Somali clan context with its identities was simply too dynamic and poly-ethic for colonial simplifications. (Meredith, 2006:154, Barth, 1969:16) Hence it was not colonial attempts that constructed a "national landscape" that unified the people or provided them with a common sense of origin when nation building through colonialism simply could not outrival the clan identity as the primary sense of belonging, something which was seen as necessary from the Westphalian order. (Palmberg, 1999:64, 75) Words of Stuart Hall: "It is only through the relation to the Other, the relation to what it is not, to precisely what it lacks, that the 'positive' meaning of any term- and thus its 'identity'- can be constructed" (Baaz, 2001:6) Somaliland did not develop from a modernization process or hierarchic leadership based on a centralized state system but through a bottom- up, society led processes based on customary norms collected in the clan structure. (Kaplan, 2008, Doornbos, 2002)

"(…) Somaliland's evolution shows that states should look inward for their resources and institutional models and adopt political structures and processes that reflect the history, complexity, and particularity of their peoples and environment. Instead of mimicking a Western style top-down system of governance, (…)" (Kaplan, 2008)

Additionally, Somaliland's institutional framework based on traditional norms and values, maintained in the clan context, is stated to have won legitimacy simply because of the social institutions enabling local people's integration in political institutions. Somaliland is now valued as a far better democratic profile than all its neighbors and includes the most democratic political institutions in the Horn of Africa because of its perceptiveness towards its cultural context. Furthermore, Somaliland has conceded several democratic milestones lacking in many states in the Middle Eastern and African region. (Kaplan, 2008, Simanowitz, 2005) And its political structure is said to have produced: "An unprecedented degree of interconnectedness between the state and society… in stark contrast to the past when previous regimes received enormous infusions of external assistance without which they could not survive, and as a result became completely divorced from the economic foundations of their own society" (Kaplan, 2008)

In brief, the Horn of Africa's environmental and political context requires collective strength and cooperation together with a sense of belonging that maintains security and safety in a precarious landscape. These needs have resulted in a special construction of social institutions used in Somaliland's development processes, ignoring rigid Westphalian definitions of governance, creating a political unit by customary mechanisms, social identities and structures of necessity for the creation and legitimization of the present institution building processes (Kaplan, 2008; Simanowitz, 2005) This is not to state that clan structures always profit from development by enabling interconnection between the civil society and the state nor is it to say that clan systems has been ignored completely when traditional anthropology now and then has tried to define it. This is rather to bring forth another dimension, in seldom highlighted, to enable additional knowledge regarding the relation between clan identity and development processes.

References

Abrahamson, Hans: a) Understanding World Order and Structural Change. Poverty, Conflict and the global arena. NY, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
b) Det gyllene tillfället. Teori och Strategi för global rättvisa. Stockholm, Scandbook, 2003
Bath, Fredrik (1969.) Ethic groups and boundaries.The social organization of culture difference. Norway: Nye Intrykk.
Baaz Eriksson, Maria (2001.) Same and Other. Negotiating African Identity in Cultural production. Introduction- African Identity and the Postcolonial. Stockholm: Elanders Gotab
Bradbury, Mark (2008.) Becoming Somaliland. London: Long House publishing services.
Bradbury, Mark; Abokor, Yusuf, Adan; Yusuf, Ahmed, Haroon. (2003.) Somaliland: Choosing Politics over Violence. Review of African Political Economy No.97:455-478. ROAPE Publications Ltd., 2003.
Doornbos, Martin (2002.) Somalia: Alternative scenarios for political reconstruction. African Affairs (2002.) Royal African Society 101, pp. 93-107.
Gettleman, Jeffrey: b (2007.) Somali Clan Elders Urge Islamists to Leave Stronghold. New York Times January 1, 2007. [Online] http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/01/world/africa/01somalia.html [2009-05-27]
Gattleman, Jeffrey:c (2007.) The Other Somalia: An Island of Stability in a Sea of Armed Chaos. New York Times, March 7, 2007. [Online]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/07/world/africa/07somaliland.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1 [2009-05-27]
Hettne, Björn. Från Pax Romana till Pax Americana Europa och världsordningen. Stockholm, Santerus förlag, 2005
Kaplan, Seth (2008.) The Remarkable Story of Somaliland. Journal of Democracy. Volume 19, Number 3 July 2008. National empowerment for Democracy and The John Hopkins University Press, 2008.
Lewis, M Ioan (2008.) Understanding Somalia and Somaliland. A guide to cultural history and social institutions. New York: Columbia University Press.
Meredith, Martin (2006.) The State of Africa. A History of fifty years of Independence. Great Britain: The Free Press, 2005. Palmberg, Mai (1999.) National Identity and Democracy in Africa. South Africa: Capture Press.
Simanowitz, Stefan (2005.) Democracy comes of age in Somaliland. Contemporary Review. Dec 1, 2005.


Somaliland Stuck in International Wilderness

While recent spate of violence and political unrest threatened to derail the nascent democracy in Somaliland, local initiatives managed to mitigate the crisis, but for now, the ‘non-state’ remains stranded in an international wilderness, Des Carney writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Des Carney for ISN Security Watch, http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?ots591=4888CAA0-B3DB-1461-98B9-E20E7B9C13D4&lng=en&id=109190 Source: ISN, Nov 04, 2009. International Relations and Security Network (ISN) Zurich, Switzerland.

A former British Protectorate until 1960, Somaliland unilaterally declared its independence from the rest of the Somali Republic in 1991 after the Somali National Movement overthrew the virulent Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu.

While Somalia has grappled with its ‘failed state’ status and descended into a ‘Paradise Lost’ of inter-clan fighting, warlords, gun-smugglers, pirates and extremists, Somaliland has established a unique, hybrid, bicameral system of government that combines an 82-seat elected parliament and an 82-seat House of Elders (the Guurti) consisting of traditional clan leaders.

Following a plebiscite on a constitution in 2001 and a succession of elections between 2002 and 2005, Somaliland established a constitutional, multiparty democracy to become a political rarity in the Horn of Africa.

Aside from the relative success of its democratic transition, Somaliland has a solid legal basis for its claims to sovereignty. Between 26 June and 1 July 1960, Somaliland enjoyed a brief flirtation with independence before voluntarily entering into a union with the former Italian colony of Somalia to the south. Article 4(b) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union “respect[s] borders existing on achievement of independence.”

Somaliland’s mere five-day sojourn with statehood does not diminish its claims to sovereignty during that period, and, as Ibrahim Hassan Gagale told ISN Security Watch, “the failure of the union [with Somalia] does not alter or change the [right] of Somaliland [to claim] legitimate borders, independence and diplomatic recognition.”

For now, Somaliland’s diplomatic charms have been unsuccessful. Foreign elites have supported the sovereignty claims of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, a nominal representation of Somali political power established in 2004 that survives on international nourishment and a fluid system of horse-trading and clan alliances in the south.

Internal flashpoint

Recently, Somaliland has faced up to an internal crisis of its own making. Growing apathy toward the rule of the Unity of Democrats Party (UDUP) and President Dahir Rayale Kahin stirred anti-government sentiment and an ongoing dispute over voter lists turned into a flashpoint for political tension across the territory.

The dispute began in April 2008 when presidential elections were postponed for one year to enable the completion of a computerized voter list. Rayale successfully petitioned the Guurti to extend his mandate to cover the period before the election.

As the list remained unfinished in April 2009, the Guurti extended Rayale’s mandate for a further six months. However, in July, Rayale and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced their rejection of the computerized list, saying that server problems had compromised the integrity of the register and that elections would proceed as scheduled on 27 September without a registered electorate.

In response, the two opposition parties - Solidarity (Kulmiye) and Justice and Welfare Party (UCID) - already incensed by the continued term extensions and restriction of political freedoms under Rayale’s government, announced they would boycott elections held on Rayale’s terms.

In early September, opposition members motioned to impeach Rayale on the grounds that his rejection of the voter list was unconstitutional. When the motion was brought up for debate, parliamentarians started fist-fighting and, in a bizarre twist, the police forces confiscated the keys to the premises and ordered the speaker and the MPs to leave the parliamentary compound.

When it became clear that the elections would be postponed for a third time, a mass of opposition supporters surrounded the parliament and, on 12 September, the police used live ammunition to suppress the crowd, leaving three demonstrators dead and another six injured.

With Somaliland peering into a political unknown, the Guurti moved quickly to broker a deal between the political parties. On 25 September, they announced an agreement that establishes a new NEC, and expedites the creation of a voter registration list and outlaws presidential term extensions without the consent of opposition parties. Analysts believe that a presidential election could take place in January 2010 at the earliest.

While democracy in action earned its stripes, the census issue remains. The socio-political governance structure is in part derived from a clan-based representation system, so any estimation of numbers carries additional power.

Michael Walls of Somaliland Focus (UK) told ISN Security Watch that the list represented the first attempt by the government to establish “a concrete measure of clan populations, and therefore of political weight […] [and may] be the source of serious disagreement in the near future.”

Democracy, development and recognition

Leaders in Somaliland are mindful that their relative stability sets them apart from the rest of Somalia and are keen to portray the recent flare up as merely a challenge to their democratic credentials.

“Sometimes two brothers fight, but at the end of the day, they are friends,” Abdilaziz Samaleh, an MP, told The National. “We are glad we have opposition parties that can demonstrate an opinion. We think we are a good example for our neighbors in Africa.”

Indeed, democratic stability forms the cornerstone of Somaliland’s foreign policy.

“The late president [Muhammad Haji Ibrahim] Egal declared in 1999 that the introduction of multi-party democracy would underpin efforts to achieve international recognition,” Walls told ISN Security Watch. “Democracy is not a prerequisite for recognition anywhere else, but it has effectively become closely linked in the case of Somaliland, both for those inside the country and for the international diplomatic community.”

Both of Rayale’s opponents in the presidential elections, Kulmiye’s Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud and UCID’s Faisal Ali Warabe, have stated that recognition of Somaliland sovereignty is the primary goal of government. But whether the political class seeks genuine democratic participation or merely the trappings of international statehood remains unclear.

Walls, who was part of the international observer mission for the aborted presidential elections, argues that “the pursuit of democracy is seen by many in Somaliland simply as an instrumental element in the quest for recognition, possibly with the effect that democracy is undervalued as an end in itself.”

A major sticking point is that Somaliland may have reached a stage in democratic development where its aspirations for statehood must coincide with real developments, but which are impeded while it remains stranded in the international wilderness.

Due to its ‘non-state’ status, Somaliland cannot appeal for aid from global financial institutions or conduct any formal trade with other nations. The economy is supported by livestock exports, primarily to the Arabian Peninsula, and remittances from the diaspora. In addition, its close proximity to Somalia significantly hampers opportunities to attract foreign investment.

While the US and, particularly, the UK, are sympathetic to the aims of Somaliland, they have explicitly stated that the issue of territorial integrity in Africa is a matter exclusively for the African Union. For now, Africa’s intergovernmental organization is loath to contribute to the myriad problems facing the Somali transitional government, and Somaliland will continue to be seen within the prism of non-existent state-building in Somalia.

This is their catch-22: While Somaliland is a political and institutional reality, its development and aspirations to statehood remain hostage to the spiral of violence in the south and the diplomatic whims of capitals elsewhere.


A New Addition to Hargeisa University

Hargiesa,(Qarannews -Nov 04, 2009 )-The Director-general of the Somaliland Ministry of Education, Mr.Ali Abdi Odowa has inaugurated the construction of a new centre at Hargeisa University. The new Mediation and Reconcilitian centre is a new addition to the Hargeisa Univeristy campus. The new centre is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The foundation laying ceremony was attended by members of the faculty at Hargeisa University, senior officials from UNDP, led by Mr. Mark Bowden and officials from the Somaliland government. Speaking at the ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor of Hargeisa Univeristy, Mr.Mubarig Ibrahim Aar thanked the UNDP for its fulsome support of the new centre and stated that centre will be an addition to the development of Hargeisa University and will foster in a new chapter of study, co-operation and exchanging of ideas within Somaliland and throughout the region.

Mr. Mubarig Ibrahim Aar, stated that the new centre will facilitate training, workshops and seminars designed to enhance the mediation and conflict resolution process in Somaliland and elsewhere in the region.

Mr. Ali Abdi Odowa, Director-general of the Somaliland ministry of Education also gave brief remarks at the ceremony and highlighted the beneficial aspects of the new centre to the development of education in Somaliland and the throughout the region.

Finally, Mr. Mark Bowden from the UNDP remarked on the new centre and its role in the mediation and reconciliation field.

Mr. Bowden thanked the major donor nations to this project which includes Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and several community organizations across the world.

Mr. Bowden also stated his confidence in the proper use of this centre by the people of Somaliland and those from across the region.


Dahabshiil aims for cashless society in Somalia

http://www.squidcard.com/4 Nov 2009

Creating a cashless society in Somalia is the target that international money transfer firm Dahabshiil has set itself after launching the first ever debit card service in the country.

The people of Somalia - which is located in the Horn of Africa - have the same needs as residents of the UK and the US, according to chief executive of the firm Abdirashid Duale.

It is hoped that businesses and individuals alike in the African nation will be able to benefit from the new service, dubbed Dahabshiil eCash.

People will be able to pay for goods and services at official Dahabshiil merchants that have point of sale terminals on their premises, such as shops, restaurants, petrol stations and hotels.

"While the central focus of Dahabshiil eCash is the customer, it is great that local businesses and the Somali economy will reap the benefits of the service too," explained Mr Duale.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer of eMoney network sQuidcard Adam Smith recently claimed that the UK took a step closer to becoming a cashless society with the launch of the first multi-purse smart card this summer.

Bolton Council - along with other local organisations and sQuidcard - has provided residents with am ITSO-enabled card that allows them to pay for goods, council services and bus travel.


Somaliland: Seven Suspects arrested for Yesterday’s Attack

Las Anod, 2 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Seven people were arrested in connection with yesterday’s roadside bomb that killed Somaliland military commander in Las Anod.

The State Minister of Interior, Mr. Farhan Jama told the BBC that the suspects are civilians from the city and are suspected of having ties with those who carried out the attacks. “They will be questioned” he said.

“The city is under curfew at the moment and we are working hard to identify the perpetrators” he said. “They were Somaliland’s enemy of course” he concluded.

The minister did not give any further details and said they will wait the results of an ongoing investigations. In other parts of east Somaliland, forces have been put on high-alert and threat levels were elevated.


Six suspects arrested in Somalia blast

LAS ANOD, Somalia, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Six people have been arrested as suspects in an explosion in northern Somalia that killed five senior military officials, authorities said Monday.

The suspects included several local Muslim school teachers and clerics accused of masterminding the bombing in Las Anod, Shabelle Media Network reported.

Sunday's blast killed five senior military officers, including a high-ranking commander, traveling through Las Anod in a truck, Shabelle reported.

The government increased troop presence in the city Monday in a search for more suspects, Mohamed Abdullahi, a Somali peacemaker in Sol region, told Shabelle.


Somalia: Hundreds of Somalis Demonstrate Largely in Las Anod Town

Las Anod (Shabelle radio, 2 November 2009)— Hundreds of Somalis have demonstrated against the troops of the break away republic of Somaliland in Las Anod town in north of Somalia, officials told Shabelle radio on Monday.

Mohamed Abdullahi, a Somalia peacemaker and one of the scholars told Shabelle radio that the demonstration happened in to more different parts in the country saying that two people were wounded as the troops of the Somaliland opened fire to the demonstrators in Las Anod in Sol region.

The peacemaker said that the troops captured more than 20 people during their operations in the town accusing them that they were those who behind the explosion targeted to the highest officials of Sol administration which is part of Somaliland.

More people in Las Anod town had annoyed yesterday's land mine explosion which left more lives of high ranking officials in the region and there had been hundreds of irritated teenagers with women and children those were burning tires in the streets of the town.

Most of the demonstrators were against the operations of the police forces of Somaliland and it comes after big explosion that caused more casualties in the town on Sunday.


Money Transfer Business in The Horn of Africa, Has Launched An “ecash” Service

Hargeisa, 1 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Dahabshiil, the largest international money transfer business in the Horn of Africa, has launched an “eCash” service that will enable Somalis to pay for goods and services at participating vendors, gas stations, hotels and restaurants.

Analysts say providing Somalis with the ability to make and receive electronic payments has the potential to revolutionize the way money is transferred.

“It’s a miracle, really just a major development,” Bashir Goth, a Somali analyst, blogger and the editor of Awdal News, told The Media Line. “Remember this is a country that for the time being doesn’t even have a banking system. Now suddenly people can have debit cards and within minutes Somalis overseas can send money home. It’s amazing and will facilitate a lot of business.”

Ahmed Egal, a Somali businessman, agreed that the Dahabshiil move was a major event in Somali banking history.

“For someone in Somalia who gets a monthly transfer from someone abroad, this new debit card system can serve as an excellent way for the recipients to access the money,” Egal told The Media Line. “At the moment there are basically lots of female money exchangers who sit in the markets with huge stacks of cash. The benefit with this system will simply be not having to stand in long lines, and on the other end not having to wait to see if the funds have been received.”

Dahabshiil’s eCash service, initially launched in the breakaway Somaliland region, will provide Somalis with a card they can use to withdraw cash or electronically purchase various goods and services. While the initial launch focuses on larger consumer vendors with electricity and Internet access, Dahabshiil has plans to allow Somalis to use the service to pay Somali tuition fees. The system, which is encrypted and requires both PIN and signature authorizations, will be fully integrated with Dahabshiil’s already dominant global remittance system.

In a region with limited penetration of traditional banking, simple electronic money systems have grown recently in a number of east African markets, with a number of countries offering mobile services in which money can be sent, received and stored using cell phones.

No such services have reached Somalia, however, despite an estimated $1 billion sent to Somalis each year from family and friends in the U.S., UK, E.U. and the Gulf. The vast majority of that money is sent using Dahabshiil.

By Benjamin Joffe-Walt,The Media Line news agency


Somalia bomb attack kills military commander

MOGADISHU,(AP)Nov 1 Somalia — A defense official in Somalia says a roadside bomb in the country's semiautonomous northern region has killed two people, including an infantry division commander.

Somaliland defense minister Saleban Warsame Guled says two remote-controlled bombs were used in the attack that killed Osman Yusuf.

After the first blast, Yusuf went to the attack site to investigate. Guled says a second explosion then went off, killing Yusuf.

The attack comes only days after the powerful militant group al-Shabab, which is concentrated in southern Somalia, threatened to attack the northern region of Somaliland and other countries in the Horn of Africa, including Uganda and Kenya.


Four killed in northern Somalia bomb attack: official

MOGADISHU (AFP) Nov 1— A roadside bomb on Sunday destroyed a car in a disputed town bordering two breakaway states in Somalia, killing a top security official and three others, a security official said.

"Four people including a (Somaliland) senior security officer were killed in the roadside bomb attack," said Colonel Abdi Mohamed Wager, a security official from Somaliland, a self-declared state in northern Somalia.

Five people were also injured in the blast, said the official, which occurred in the town of Lascanood, which Somaliland and neighbouring Puntland both lay claim to.

Puntland has declared itself an autonomous state.

The bomb was remote-controlled and went off as officers were getting into the car, Wager said.

"We are still investigating who masterminded the attack, which seemed to have targeted the official," Wager added.

A witness, Osmail Farah, said he saw "several burnt body parts" being removed from the wreckage of the car, which was totally destroyed, and that several people were rushed to hospital.

The blast covered the area with shrapnel and smoke, the witness added.

The attack came after Somaliland's leader Thursday called for war against the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebel group, blamed for deadly suicide attacks in the breakaway state last year.

The Shebab, who control southern Somalia, have waged relentless battles against Somalia's transitional government in the capital Mogadishu.

Unlike the rest of Somalia, Somaliland -- a former British protectorate which broke away from the rump Somalia in 1991 -- has been relatively peaceful.


UN commemorates anniversary of Hargeisa bombings

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 29 Oct 2009

Nairobi, KENYA – Today, the UN commemorates the first anniversary of the Hargeisa bombings. On 29 October 2008, five bombing attacks took place in Hargeisa and Bossaso, northern Somalia, one of them targeting a UN compound.

The explosion of a car bomb which imposed its way through the compound in Hargeisa caused the death of two UN staff members, Mohamed Elmi 'Geele' and Said Hashi Mohumed, and injured six others.

The attacks forced the UN to review its operations and temporarily reduce the number of staff working in the country. However, the UN has continued supporting the Somali people by delivering humanitarian assistance and fostering human development.

"One year after these outrageous attacks, I am full of admiration for my colleagues who have demonstrated an unfaltering commitment to help Somalis recover from 18 years of conflict, despite the high risks they encounter daily and the impediment this places on their work" says Mark Bowden, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. "At times such as these, the UN renews its commitment to work with and for Somalis to achieve lasting sustained development."

With half of the Somali population in need of humanitarian aid due to renewed conflict and environmental disasters, such as flooding and droughts, the UN is working with the Somalis in building a durable peace and in assisting to bring about reconstruction and development to their country.


Somaliland leader calls for war on Shebab

HARGEISA, 30 October 2009 (Source: AFP) – The leader of Somalia’s breakaway self-declared state of Somaliland called on Thursday for war against the hardline Shebab rebels as the region marked one year since deadly suicide attacks.

Twenty-four people were killed in the October 29, 2008 multiple blasts that ripped through the presidential palace, Ethiopia’s diplomatic compound and the offices of the UN Development Programme in the region’s capital Hargeisa.

Somaliland blamed the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab militia for the attacks.

“The attacks that hit Somaliland were aimed at undermining the existence of our statehood and we must be united to fight against the perpetrators of such incidents,” President Dahir Riyale Kahin told a gathering commemorating the events.

“We must go against those elements otherwise they will make our region like Mogadishu.”

Shebab’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, aka Mukhtar Abu Zubair, hails from Somaliland.

The Shebab, who control southern Somalia, have waged relentless battles against Somalia’s transitional government in the capital Mogadishu.

Unlike the rest of Somalia, Somaliland — a former British protectorate which broke away from the rump Somalia in 1991 — has been relatively peaceful.


Ethiopia Appoints New Representative to Somaliland Upgrades Its Office

HARGEISA, 30 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The Ethiopian government appointed a new representative to Somaliland on Thursday to replace its former one who has been changed last week.

In a press conference, the Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in his office said the office of the Ethiopian government in Somaliland which was known as a trade office has been upgraded to be counselor. The Minister welcomed the new representative in his office and said Somaliland is ready to collaborate with the new representative.

“We welcome the new representative and the fact that the government of Ethiopia upgraded its office, this is a step forward of the two countries bilateral relationship” Said the Minister.

Mr. Berhe Tesfey, the new representative thanked the Somaliland government and its people. He said he is happy to take the new office and work closely with the Somaliland government.

This comes when Somaliland marks the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Somaliland where 24 people died and more than 30 wounded. One of the targets was the Ethiopian Trade Office in Hargeisa.


NY Times Book review: Re: Somaliland/Edna Hospital

Written by Sue M. Halpern, Oct 28, 2009

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Knopf, 294 pp., $27.95

And then there is Edna Adan, whose unlikely trajectory took her to the World Health Organization, where she worked for many years, traveling the world. A nurse by training, her dream was to return to her homeland, the breakaway, unrecognized country of Somaliland, which had the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the world, and build a clean, modern maternity hospital. To raise capital Adan cashed in her WHO pension and sold her car, then ran out of money before a roof could go up. The United Nations and other NGOs that she approached turned down her request for funds to finish the hospital, and it looked like her project would be yet another failed effort, like so many that, according to Kristof and WuDunn, "litter" Africa.

But then Kristof's colleague at the Times Ian Fisher wrote a story about Edna Adan's hospital and two readers in Connecticut and two in Minnesota were moved to help her. They sent out fund-raising letters to friends and neighbours and raised the remaining capital. The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital now has sixty beds and seventy-six staff members, a blood bank, and an on-site lab. From its opening in 2002 until June of this year, it has admitted 8654 women, delivered 8810 babies, seen more than 62,000 patients in the outpatient clinic, performed nearly 107,000 laboratory tests, providing training courses in, amongst others, 3 year general nursing (3 classes), midwifery, laboratory techniques, first aid courses for school teachers, and computer literacy courses.

These numbers are one way to measure success. Another, oddly, comes by way of a letter Adan wrote to Kristof last year, which he posted on his blog:

I am writing to you in desperation because we have lost ten of our best qualified nurses and midwives to International NGOs who do not support us during the training but who snatch the best from us with salary offers that we cannot match. Somehow, we seem to have become victims of our success because our nurses are the best in the country. We train four times what our hospital needs but still cannot cover the demand for good and responsible nurses.

Kristof and WuDunn are not naive. They are quick to point out that good intentions sometimes go wrong, or are wrongheaded to begin with, and that sometimes good intentions are just not enough. Even so, small steps taken against intractable problems can be resounding. It is now pretty much taken for granted that educating girls has an ameliorating effect on almost every social indicator, most especially family income and family size, and that this in turn reduces the violence that stems from resource wars.

An education doesn't necessarily mean book-learning, either: one of the stipulations made by Edna Adan when she was building her hospital was that the brick makers teach women their trade. Somaliland now has its first women brick makers; those women now have a marketable skill...


Somalia: Forces from Somaliland and Puntland regions clash in northern region

MOGADISHU, Oct. 28 (Mareeg)—Forces from the breakaway republic of Somaliland and forces from the semiautonomous region of Punland in north eastern Somalia have clashed in Elbuh town in Sanaag region in northern Somalia, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Residents say the fighting between the two sides started after a delegation led by a minister from Somaliland reached in Elbuh town, where Puntland soldiers were previously based in. It is yet unknown the causalities of the fighting between the two rival sides.

Abdullahi Omar Anshur, a commander of Puntland forces confirmed that the fighting occurred in Elbuh after Somaliland delegation arrived in the area.

Mr. Anshur claimed victory over the fighting and said they inflicted damages to soldiers from Somaliland.

Reports from the region say Somaliland soldiers are regrouping in Biyo Gadud residence and there is tension in the area.

There is no word from Somaliland authorities about the fighting that has reportedly erupted between their soldiers and those of Puntland.

There has been land dispute between Somaliland and Puntland since the formation of Puntland administration in 1998 and their forces fought several times in the area.


Somalis get first-ever debit card

BBC, 28 October 2009

The firm says Somalis have the same needs as British or Americans A money-transfer company has made a piece of banking history in Somalia - introducing the first-ever debit card in the breakaway region of Somaliland.

The firm, Dahabshiil, hopes eventually to roll the system out to all Somali-speaking areas from Djibouti to Kenya.

They say large shops and hotels in areas with good internet connection and electricity can sign up to the service.

The card was launched in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa because of insecurity elsewhere in the region.

'Cashless society'

Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991, when the country's central government collapsed.

Since then, Somaliland has forged a relatively stable state, despite its lack of international recognition.

Most of the rest of Somalia has been wracked by violence and Islamist insurgencies while

Dahabshiil boss Abdul Rashid Mohamed Said told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme he regretted that people overseas hear only bad news from Somalia.

"We believe Somalis here have the same needs as people in the UK or America and that's why the debit card will make their lives easier," he said.

He said he hoped to create a "cashless society" by encouraging customers to link their accounts directly to their cards.

The BBC's Jamal Abdi says people he spoke to on the streets of Hargeisa hope the new cards will reduce the long queues outside money-transfer agencies.

Dahabshiil has made its name by handling cash transferred by Somalis living overseas to their relatives back home.

Some estimates say as much as $1bn (£610m) is sent into Somalia from the emigrants.


Somaliland Elections – Fifth Time Lucky?

by Yarik Turianskyi, All Africa.com, October 5, 2009, http://www.somaliland.org/

Last week the citizens of Somaliland were due to have elected their president for the next five years. However, they did not get to the polls, since elections were postponed for the fourth time. What does the future hold for the self-declared, independent, and unrecognised Somaliland in the Horn of Africa?

After the end of colonialism in Africa, Somaliland was independent for a short period in the 1960s, between the end of British rule and the establishment of a union with the former Italian colony of Somalia. Following the overthrow of the military dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, Somaliland proclaimed independence on May 18, 1991.

However, nearly two decades later Somaliland is not recognised by any country or international organisation. Nevertheless, the largely nomadic country has managed not only to survive, but even enjoy relative peace and stability – at least until now.

At present Somaliland is experiencing political unrest as a result of postponed elections. The term of office of the current president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, expired in April 2008, but the poll was delayed in order to complete voter registration. Since then, elections have been postponed repeatedly. The latest delay was a result of complaints about irregularities on the new voters’ registration list – the first to be drawn up since Somaliland’s formation.

While both the government and opposition parties wanted elections to go ahead, their conditions for this to happen differed. The opposition insisted that they take place on the basis of the flawed list, while the government suggested that the ballot should take place without a list. This prompted the opposition to set in motion the impeachment of the president. When officials put it up for debate, parliamentarians started fighting – one even pulled out a gun although no shots were fired.

While Somaliland was previously praised for a lack of violence in spite of political disagreements, this changed on September 12 when three people died and another six were injured during a confrontation in which police used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse opposition supporters protesting over the election delays.

In recent days it has been announced that the ruling and opposition parties have signed a six-clause agreement, formally ending the crisis. The agreement reportedly prohibits the current government from extending its term without consulting the opposition, calls for the election commission to be replaced and asks for international experts to complete the new computerised voter registration system.

What next for Somaliland?

Even though the early years of the nation’s existence were characterised by power struggles among rival clans, they eventually reached power-sharing agreements which resulted in its unique political structure: a hybrid system of governance consisting of a lower house of elected representatives and an upper house incorporating tribal clan elders. Somaliland even fulfils all four of the prerequisites of statehood laid down in the 1933 Montevideo Convention: a territory, a government, a population and the ability to enter into international agreements.

But in its quest for full statehood Somaliland lacks the most important unwritten qualification – recognition by fellow states in the international system. Whether the incumbent president stays or someone else comes to power, it is highly unlikely that this will change. Due to its “non-state” status, Somaliland cannot formally trade with other nations or seek financial assistance from global financial institutions. The backbone of its economy is livestock and donations from the diaspora.

Might Somaliland be awarded statehood in the future? This is a sensitive topic. The United States has previously claimed that “while the United States does not recognise Somaliland as an independent state, and we continue to believe that the question of Somaliland’s independence should be resolved by the African Union, we continue regularly to engage with Somaliland as a regional administration.”

Thus a global power whose recognition of Somaliland could lead the way for other governments believes Africa’s principal intergovernmental organization should handle the matter. The African Union has already sent fact-finding missions to Somaliland in 2005 and 2008.

According to Iqbal Jhazbhay, an associate professor at the University of South Africa and author of Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, “while the momentum for Somaliland’s recognition is picking up, ultimately it is up to the African states to take it forward… the problem here is that Somalia is the priority and as a consequence the case of Somaliland becomes marginalised.”

Thus far the African Union has been reluctant to question territorial integrity and unwilling to re-draw artificially-created colonial boundaries, however illogical. Whether this is right or wrong, it is certainly practical. On a continent with more 3,000 different ethnic groups, recognising secession may be a dangerous precedent, opening the way for the breakdown of many artificial states. However, the case of Somaliland, as a territory which briefly enjoyed independence after decolonisation, may be different.

Although it seems that for the immediate future at least it will remain an autonomous territory rather than a full state, the international community is set to be more involved. International diplomats mediated in the territory for the first time during last month’s election crisis. And the new election date will be set exactly one month after the international experts say they can complete the new voter registration system. While these developments fall far short of official international recognition for Somaliland, they are positive signs for the country that is not a state.

Yarik Turianskyi is a researcher on the Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg. Source ; South African Institute of International Affairs


Somaliland: An Open letter to newly elected National Elections Commission!

by Mohammed Abdi Awciise Bahdoon, http://www.hiiraan.com/October 26th, 2009

With the current thorny political situation in Somaliland including tainted NEC process, you are circumspectly elected to assume the incomplete NEC election process, reassurance of public trust and creation of healthy election atmosphere. And also your experience, wisdom, timely, intrepid public communication and ingenuousness approach to election process will return the tarnished image of Somaliland during cat-fight drama.

Despite political differences between political parties, troublesome issue is about how to manage collected data and its integrity constraints including elimination of existing duplicates and its logistic aspect. It is a crucial to work as a team with identical objectives to achieve, professionalism, commitment and reliability. And also to seek assistance from expertise on unfamiliar matters that may arise during your assignments, particularly information technology sector including blurred server issue.

Our expectations include, highly computer skills, full commitment, determination, and being modest and not to act as arrogant as your predecessor did – (Mr. Jamac Sweden) or become a problematic commission like those who earlier blew up entire process in a matter of days. In addition, your humble collaborations with colleagues and external entities or stakeholders will considerably increment the chance of succeeding this daunting task. Further, you are devout Muslims, under oath and decided to accept this position. Thus, rules of laws ought to be complied with no nepotism, corruption and any interferences presented by political parties must be made in public.

In accordance with your current curriculum vitae presented in the media, your computer skills appear to be limited and not abreast of the latest technologies and your dependency upon outside expertise will once again compromise the providence of this task. As core issue is somehow related to computers and servers, information technology expertise from Somaliland should be onboard to simplify information and also act as go-between entity. Imported information technology experts must be placed under Somaliland experts supervisions.

Demystifying server term

Server issue dominates much of the talk in Somaliland and it seems server quandary continues. In computer term, server refers to an application that runs on a specified computer which delivers services, software that make communication and data transportation possible between the main or master computer and other computers (client). There are numerous server types and each one designed to employ for specific purpose.

For instance, web server runs and transports data between your browser and computer (server) which stores web pages, printer server provides printer service and file server which also provides file services. Apparently, Somaliland needs the following components for the election and creation a permanent national database.

The most important and fundamental component is creating a national database, responsible to store citizens personal information such as last name, date of birth, finger print and facial data. It should be housed in the specific computer (server), highly secured and cooling temperature environment. Possible databases include MS access, mysql, and sql server.

Other components or top layers are software, called GUI (graphic user interface) that enables us to read these RAW data from national database and perform comparisons such as facial recognition and fingerprint software.

Finally, all stipulated components must function as one component and should be meticulously verified their compatibilities.

Mohammed Abdi Awciise Bahdoon, Bsc. IT consultant @IBM, Canada, Former UNDP consultant @Hargeisa, Email: m_bahdoon@yahoo.ca


Journalists’ response to the Chairmen of Somaliland Journalists

Written by SOLNA, Oct 26, 2009

Abdullahi Adan Omar (Wayab) the director of Somaliland News Agency (SOLNA) and Mohammed Abdi Urad the Editor of Yool Press have held a press conference at Obama Hotel in Haregeisa the capital of Somaliland.

The two veteran journalists have warned the bad behaviour, which is lately whirling among the Somali Journalists.

The two Journalists have strongly responded to statement delivered by the Chairmen of Somaliland Journalists organizations, in which they were criticizing Waagacusub, saying that it has made routine in insulting a national company in the country.

“In fact what I am talking about is that there is great new conduct in Somaliland press, which we never used to have there is also darkness in the Somaliland press, we have to get rid of this unusual things in the press, or else the trust in the press will automatically die down, a journalist has the right to write, and in his writing the most significant thing is that he should be sure of what he is writing, the Journalist should not stand in creating enmity, among the other Journalists focusing on special interest, it often happens when a journalist writes there are people who rush to the person who the writer has wrote something from telling him negative image about the writer’s writing seeking to gain something about that very person, the writer is not an angle and he can commit mistake in his writings, but in reaction the other person should also response in writing, to prove what has been written by that journalist is wrong to this level, the reality is that journalism is a field whereby nobody can join unless he/she has adequate knowledge of Journalism, I mean somebody who is not a journalist cannot just pickup a pen and draft down what comes down into his brain” said Abdullah Wayaab the director of Somaliland News Agency. Abdullahi Wayaab has warned to avoid any intruders who are creating instability among the Somaliland journalists, there are some groups who he said are hiding under the umbrella of Journalists and are not actually Journalists, these groups he said are opportunists who have dug the pockets of Politicians and now are digging the pockets of traders.

Likewise Mohamed Abdi Urud the Editor of Yool Press, has also at length talked about the new conduct in the Somaliland press

“The new conduct we have seen that if a journalist writes about somebody there are some people who hastily dash to that very person and tell him the story in a very inaccurate way, for instant on Thursday some Journalists held a press conference, and their press was mainly based on Dahir Alasow a Journalist who has written about Dallo Airlines, in fact Dallo Airlines is a national company, and has done great unforgettable things for Somaliland, and if incase a Website has written something ill about it, it would have been better to be disproved in form of writing through the Media not that you approach the person and tell him whatever you want to tell him, and gain a smart handshake” said Mohamed Abdi Urud the Editor of Yool Press

Mr. Urud has strongly condemned Mustfe Abdi Isse (Shiine) the Chairman of Somaliland Journalists SOLJA, and said that he is a man who has failed his duty on Mandeeq News Paper, and has well betrayed the government he has been working for.


The S.land Independent Scholars Group: Implementation of the Six-Point Agreement and Learning from Our Recent Experience

HARGEISA, 25 October (Somalilandpress) – In their 24th October meeting the ISG members discuss the implementation of recent six-point Agreement and lessons of recent political conflict in Somaliland. The meeting was sponsored by the Social Research and Development Institute (SORADI). It was moderated by its Director, Dr. Mohamed Fadal. The Somaliland Independent Scholar’s Group (ISG) members are all long-term participants of Somaliland rebuilding and democratization process, who are considered to be highly competent to provide an objective analysis and strategy to address the issues at hand. The ISG members are: Abdi-shakur Sh Ali-Jowhar (Psychiatrist and political analyst: warkamaanta.com), Amina Mohamoud Warsame (Executive Director of NAGAAD); Abdilkadir H Ismail Jirde (Ex-Deputy Speaker and Member of Parliament- now travelling), Shukri H. Ismail (Former National Electoral Commissioner and Member of African Democracy Forum and Chair of Candle Light); Ibrahim Jama Ali –Raite (Member of Parliament and Lawyer), Fawsi Sh. Yonis (Somaliland Lawyer’s Association); Abdi Ahmed Nour (Forum for Peace and Governance-FOBAG), Bobe Y. Duale (Research Coordinator, APD), Haroon H Ahmed Qulumbe (ActionAid), Jafar Mohamed Gadaweyne (SONSAF); Mohamed Hassan Ibrahim (Researcher-APD), Suad Ibrahim Abdi (Researcher-APD); Wais Muse (Executive Director of Samatalis Coalition of Human Rights)), Dr. Mohamed Fadal, Director of (SORADI);Muse Abdi Elmi (U. of Hargeisa; Dean Academic Affairs) Dr. Yusuf Kariye (Researcher in Anthropology; Hinda Mohamed Jama (an Associate of Burao University); Dr. Aden Abokor(Progressio Country Rep.)..

II. The Current Climate of Cooperation Among the Key Stakeholders

The Somaliland political temperature continues to be moderate, since the signing of the six-point Agreement (See www.soradi.org for the Agreement text). It is remarkable that the top leadership of the political parties, the President and Chairman of the House of Elders have so far refrained from attacking each other through the media, but instead have started the culture of discussing matters face to face. It is also remarkable that the President has initiated most of these meetings, something that the Somaliland people have expected from him all along.

Therefore, the process of constituting a new National electoral Commission (NEC) has been accomplished. The opposition parties and the two Houses of Parliament have also compromised on several outstanding issues including that they accepted to go along with the President’s uncompromising demand to change their first choice candidates for the NEC. The House of Elders, Kulmiye and UCID all changed their first choice candidates. On the contrary the President’s choices were not subject to such scrutiny from UCID, Kulmiye or even the Guurti.

The situation prevailing in Somaliland before the key stakeholders decided to go on the route of dialogue and compromise was quite explosive:

It was perceived that the President was seeking a one-year extension of his term from the House of Elders. Discussion of the issue in the House floor was concluded on a Thursday and the voting was set to take place on the next day Friday morning and could not even wait for the Saturday.

In the House of Representatives an impeachment process against the President was tabled as an agenda for discussion. This agenda was being pushed by the opposition and it was believed to have a significant support in the House. From another front, it was alleged that UDUB members were pushing motions through both Houses of Parliament to unseat the two Speakers and replace them with their own supporters.

The two opposition parties discussed openly, with their Chairmen on the record, to form a joint parallel government, if the President succeeded to get an extension of one year from the House of Elders.

Public demonstrations, much more ferocious than before, were expected to follow the above moves.

Such an explosive situation has been diffused, people believe, by the President climbing down from the one-year extension demand and convincing his Guurti supporters to go along with the comprise route. The Guurti vote on the Friday morning was unanimous, to diffuse the crisis. What changed the President’s mind is beyond the scope of this paper and will be debated long after the event, but what matters is that with that decision sanity has been restored in the Somaliland politics. It also shows the power of the President’s actions whether he chooses to go along the dialogue and compromise route or otherwise. The hope now is that, the President and all other key stakeholders continue to cooperate to fulfil the responsibilities they have for the Somaliland people to lead them to free and fair elections.

III. On The New NEC

It took about tree weeks to constitute a new NEC and that is relatively fast in the Somaliland standards. However, in this regard one can cite few unfulfilled expectations: There is no female member again. Somaliland had only one female Commissioner and her performance, style of work and integrity has been exemplary. So many other sisters like her are aspiring to serve their nation as Commissioners. How long should we continue to deny them that right? Otherwise, the ISG considers this selection of the new Commissioner of a higher calibre than the lot they are replacing. The ISG welcomes the new NEC and commits itself to support it to face the challenge of leading this country to free, fair and peaceful elections.

The parliamentary approval process was expected to be rigorous. A House sub-committee was assigned to screen the individual members if they meet the criteria clearly outlined in the Electoral Law. However, the committee took five wasted days, because in the approval day, their efforts had no bearing on the House floor discussions and voting results and the process was anything but rigorous. The voting results were sixty-five votes for each of the seven members; there were no opposing votes or abstentions. Is that a normal thing? Certainly not, and the house members need to do a lot of soul searching on the matter; at end of the day, the vote is an individual matter and the MP is accountable for his or her decision. Finally it was not fair to the individual Commissioners, who came from different backgrounds and professions, to be dolled out with equal score marks from all 65 members of parliament voting.

The ISG wants to warn the new NEC not to be rushed into a hasty and ill-prepared hand-over ceremony. A proper audit of the institution has to be commissioned to avoid future complications of their work – The Financial matters, the institutional assets including equipment and transport and the Voter Registration equipment, materials and documents all need to be clearly accounted for.

Further more, all key stakeholders including the international partners have to be fully involved in the hand-over process. The new members will need to be trained to do their job properly. It is also important to build the structure of the organization. The Somaliland Government and the partner international community need to cooperate to build the institutional structure and capacity of NEC. On their part the new members need to take the responsibility to choose their international counterpart agency and with the proper contractual arrangements and MOUs and in a transparent and independent manner. In doing so, they will have to keep in mind that the Somaliland people are expecting them to organize the Presidential election in the fastest possible time.

IV. Key Milestones in the Agreement

Milestones to cross include: New NEC is constituted; Expert assessment delivered; Final voter Registration List adopted; NEC sets the election date; and the Presidential term extended accordingly.

Among the above milestones only the first one is crossed so far – constituting the new NEC. That itself is a great success for Somaliland and the key stakeholders in this process need to be commended. However, the next most critical milestone is that the NEC sets the date for the Presidential election. To achieve that, NEC needs to facilitate the work of the Expert Assessment Team and also the production and adoption of the Final Voter Registration List. It is incumbent upon NEC in collaboration with its international partners to ensure this process does not complicate the steps that will follow, in terms of the time it takes and the quality of the results attained. Furthermore, NEC should use the prevailing climate of collaboration among key stakeholder to renew the commitment of the three political parties to accept whatever final list the neutral experts come up with. The goal is to fulfil people’s right to elect their President and not to fight over a list.

V. Recommendations for the Lessons not yet learnt

The two Houses of Parliament need urgently to revisit Electoral Law to enrich it with the lessons learnt from the recent experience.

To make the criteria for the selection of the Commissioners more defined and measurable

To remove what is not working in these criteria, such as the age limit of 60 years

To define clearly what should the approval procedure of the House of Representatives entail other than voting?

To define the legality of a pre-screening process before the list is submitted to the Parliament.

This refers to the controversy over the pre-screening conducted by the President on other member’s candidates.

The mandate of the National Electoral Commission need to be clarified more and on the basis of our recent experiences. This refers to the unilateral decision taken by NEC to suspend the Voter Registration results.

There should be sanctions defined in the Electoral Law for offences committed against it and against other agreements reached by stakeholders.

The Issue of Gender equity in the National Electoral Commission needs to be addressed by all the key stakeholders.


Somalia: Somaliland parliament approves new election commission

HARGEISA, Somalia Oct 24 (Garowe Online) - Lawmakers in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have approved a new election commission in order to move forward the election process, Radio Garowe reports.

Parliament's lower house, the 82-member House of Representatives, met on Saturday in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa to vote on the new seven-member election commission, whose members was jointly appointed by Somaliland's president, parliament and opposition parties.

House Speaker Abdirahman Mohamed "Irro" asked the lawmakers to approve the new election commission as a unit, instead of one-by-one approval.

The 65 MPs present voted unanimously to approve the new election commission after the new commission members "fulfilled all selection criteria," according to Mr. Said Elmi Roble, chairman of the internal affairs subcommittee.

The new election commission is scheduled to meet soon and to appoint a new chairman. Somaliland President Dahir Riyale inked a six-point agreement with opposition parties in late September following a dispute over delayed presidential elections.


Somaliland, the Unrecognized State

by Abdinasir Mohamed Guled, Oct 24, 2009/Oct 24, 2009 , The Media Line. www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=26861

While violence in Somalia rages on, its less well known region of Somaliland is making tentative steps towards statehood Hargeysa, Somaliland] With daily reports of chaos and violence wracking Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, the relative peace and tranquility of Somalia’s second largest city, Hargeysa, stands in stark contrast. The presence of foreigners freely walking and driving in the streets, and the absence of fear from kidnappings and killings in the capital of the Somaliland region, is something its larger sister city cannot boast.

Hargeysa, the city in the dust is Somaliland’s capital, a self proclaimed independent state having broken away from Somalia and declared its own administration in 1991, when Somalia was just beginning a civil war which has raged on ever since. While there are reports the self-directed authority runs its day-to-day tasks smoothly, the state remains unrecognized by any country or international organization.

For more than 18 years, Somaliland, situated in North West Somalia, has maintained some semblance of peace.

Somaliland’s formal borders were drawn in 1886, when the British established a protectorate over the northern regions of Somalia on the coast of the Gulf of Aden. It remained a British protectorate for nearly 80 years, until it gained its independence on June 26, 1960. Less than a week later it entered its ill-starred union with the former Italian Somalia in response to calls from Somali nationalists wishing to unite all the lands on which Somalis lived.

Bordered by Ethiopia in the south and west, Djibouti in the northwest, the Gulf of Aden in the north, and two other de facto independent Somali territories in the east, Maakhir and the Northland State, Somaliland occupies a crucial position.

“If the international community supported the independence of Namibia and Eritrea, then it should also be prepared to give the Republic of Somaliland a chance,” said Somaliland educator Mohamed Samatar Yusuf to The Media Line.

“Why should we force a relatively prosperous and peaceful nation to merge once more with the warring clans of South Somalia at the hands of which it suffered such oppression and hardship before and during the civil war?”

There are signs things are less than calm and peaceful beneath the surface.

In 2002, Dahir Riyale Kahin, a former colonel in the Somali army came to power and was later accused of taking part in what many Somalilanders have termed a genocide, but what others have termed ‘the irresponsible attack of tribal run government policies in its own territory’. He was sworn in as president shortly afterwards. Yet his re-election in 2003, the first public one-on-one election, was seen by some independent observers as a “free and fair election” and an example of Africa democracy.

However, his term in office has recently come under attack by the government’s main opposition party, Kulmiye.

Earlier this month the party condemned the incumbent president’s term extension which they described as “unconstitutional”, following the postponement of elections despite widespread public resistance. Riyale was elected for a five-year term which ended in April last year and in addition was given a one-year extension by the National Electoral Commission, which was due to end in April earlier this year.

Kulmiye, kept the government guessing about its plans to stage nationwide mass protests against the resolution passed by the House of Elders, which extended president Riyale’s term of office. The opposition party’s refusal to recognize the extension sparked violence and demonstrations in which six people were killed and clearly hit a nerve in government circles.

The government said that the recent mass protests against Congress’ resolution posed a direct threat to the country’s national security. The opposition claimed it was pursuing its constitutional right to stage peaceful mass protests against the illegal resolution, despite the fact that things spiraled out of control during the demonstration.

Analysts have compared the recent extensions of Riyale's term without parliament’s approval to a form of dictatorship.

Nowadays, though the Somaliland government is reportedly making efforts to improve the public services, some people are questioning the government’s policy of using public funds and aid money.

Almost all Somalis describe the security as “clan oriented peace” in the region, despite the late Somaliland President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal having said that “Somaliland is no longer just a collection of clans but a nation in its own right.”

More than 73% of Somaliland’s population lives in poverty and 43% in extreme poverty. Unemployment is widespread, and according to Mohamed Abdinor, a Somaliland scholar, more than 78% of the population has no access to healthcare.

There are signs though of green shoots as streets are slowly being rebuilt and markets are springing up. Two universities and many colleges have been built recently without outside help.

Somaliland’s Finance Minister Awil Ali Du'ale said Somaliland is continuing to develop its local resources and variety of imported items.

“We’ve signed agreements with several international companies working on different resources,” he said.

There are presently four telecommunication companies operating in Somaliland and others are expected to become operational very soon.

But despite a growth in communication capabilities, media censorship remains strong.

“The media has a huge role in Somaliland but they are not really independent and cannot air the facts,” said a senior editor of a Somaliland newspaper who asked to remain unnamed.

He further added that Somaliland was reluctant to report its news as Somalia news, being as the nation was aiming to become an independent state.

“We have to be aware of what is happening around the world and in our country” said Mohamed Haji, a Hargeysa inhabitant.

Such sentiments are common, especially during the mornings in the city’s many cafes which are regularly crammed with people chatting about the latest news and politics.

Although there’s much optimism in Somaliland, the country's progress is limited because aid donors and trade partners do not officially recognize its existence as an independent state. Its international trade relations are dependent on a handful of countries and private companies.

But with hopes running high for what looks to be a growing economy, its inhabitants are waiting for an independent and recognized government in the near future.

“We will not allow [for our country] to be united with Somalia” said 18 year old passionate high school student Mohamed Abdi, stating the main difference between the two nations was that Somaliland chose to take up peace rather than violence.

“We’ve no daily violence and killings; we would like to be an independent country soon. Hopefully it will happen,” smiling Abdi concluded.


ETHIOPIA-SOMALIA: Rising numbers of illegal immigrants enter Somaliland

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. Asha Abdi with some of her children: Somaliland immigration officials have expressed concern over the increase in the number of illegal Ethiopian migrants entering the region.

HARGEISA, 23 October 2009 (IRIN) - Immigration officials in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have expressed concern over the increase in the number of illegal Ethiopian migrants entering the region, with claims that up to 90 people are arriving daily, against 50 in 2008.

An immigration official, who requested anonymity, said most of those arriving in Somaliland were asylum-seekers from the Oromiya region of Ethiopia. Others transit through Somaliland en route to the Arabian Peninsula.

The exact number of Ethiopian refugees in Somaliland is unclear as the region's authorities and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, have different figures.

Mohamed Ismail, the director of social affairs in the Ministry of Interior - charged with overseeing refugee affairs and asylum-seekers – said: "We consider 4,000 individuals as Ethiopian refugees but all the other people who live in Somaliland are not refugees; [they have] come to Somaliland for a better life."

According to UNHCR Somalia, Somaliland has 1,600 Ethiopian refugees and more than 14,000 asylum-seekers.

"UNHCR has the responsibility of engaging in strong information campaigns targeting Ethiopians on their right to seek asylum if they are fleeing persecution in their country and of the rights they have as refugees," Roberta Russo, a spokeswoman for the agency, told IRIN on 22 October.

However, a source in the Ministry of Interior said the last estimate by the ministry and UNHCR in 2006 was that at least 8,000 Ethiopian refugees were in Somaliland.

Saleban Ismail Bulale, chairman of the Horn of Africa Human Rights Organization, based in Hargeisa, said: "UNHCR has granted refugee status to only 1,500, but it is estimated that there are thousands of Ethiopians in Somaliland."

Living on the streets

Asha Abdi, an Ethiopian mother of six living on the streets of Hargeisa, told IRIN: "My children and I left our home in Babuli town in Ethiopia's Oromiya Region several months ago; we came because we had suffered lack of food for a long time."

Hers is one of several Ethiopian families trying to survive on Hargeisa's streets. "We live in the shade of local houses and beg for food to survive," Asha said.

An Ethiopian official, who requested anonymity, told IRIN it seemed the UNHCR office in Hargeisa was encouraging asylum-seekers to enter Somaliland.

"Ethiopians emigrate to Somaliland in search of a better life; for example, they want to be relocated to a foreign country. You see them coming here and then going back to their homes after registering with the UNHCR office in Hargeisa as asylum-seekers," the official said. "When their time comes for their relocation, they come back to Hargeisa."

However, Russo said UNHCR did everything possible to inform the refugees of their rights and to ensure the protection mechanisms put in place were not abused.

In very few cases, she said, UNHCR offered the option of resettlement to a third country if the refugees faced insecurity in the country of asylum or if it was impossible for them to integrate. Russo added that this opportunity was offered to the most needy cases.


Somaliland readies for presidential election

Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent, October 20. 2009

Dahir Riyale Kahin, who has ruled the autonomous region for seven years, will face two challengers. Tim Freccia for The National

HARGEISA, SOMALIA // Inside the compound of the presidential mansion here, there is a circle of blue and white tiles about a metre across lying on the ground over a dirt mound. The decorative hump amid a dusty car park seems out of place, until a guard explains that it is a memorial.

Almost a year ago, a suicide bomber drove a lorry through the front gate of the compound and blew himself up at this spot, just metres from the president’s lavish two-story house. Five people died in the blast including the president’s secretary. Another 25 died in two other simultaneous attacks in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

Dahir Riyale Kahin, the president of Somaliland, was upstairs in his house when the bomb went off and was uninjured. Local authorities blamed the attack on al Shabab, an Islamic militia with ties to al Qa’eda that has been waging war in southern Somalia for the past two years.

The October 2008 Hargeisa bombings, a rarity in the normally stable northern breakaway region of Somaliland, underscored the threats faced by the man living in the president’s mansion.

An upcoming presidential election could install a new man in the president’s house for the first time in seven years, or it could put Mr Riyale back in the hot seat. Security will be a major issue of the campaign, as will gaining international recognition for Somaliland’s independence.

Unlike southern Somalia, which has been at war for two decades, Somaliland has a functioning government and security forces. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but so far no other nation recognises this and Somaliland remains a country that does not exist.

“Recognition will come sooner or later,” Mr Riyale said in an interview from his mansion. “The international community will come to the conclusion that we have a right to self determination. We are a functioning state. There is no state in southern Somalia. We have become a victim of a failed state.”

Critics say Mr Riyale, the former vice president, has not done enough to achieve recognition since he ascended to power following the death of the previous president in 2002. He has yet to articulate a concrete plan for gaining recognition for Somaliland.

The last time Somaliland held a presidential election, in 2003, Mr Riyale beat his nearest challenger, Ahmed Mahamoud Silaanyo, by a mere 80 votes out of almost 500,000 cast. Then, an amazing thing happened: Mr Silaanyo stepped down quietly. Unlike in other African countries where hotly contested elections often lead to bloody protests, Somalilanders accepted the results peacefully and went on with nation building.

This year, Mr Riyale is back seeking another five-year term. Mr Silaanyo, a 72-year-old former resistance fighter, and Faisal Ali Waraabe, a professor who spent many years in Finland, are again his main challengers.

The election, which was scheduled for April 2008, has been delayed several times, most recently on September 27, because of security and logistical constraints. Politicians say it will now take place in January at the earliest.

As president, Mr Silaanyo, an economist and former minister of commerce, said he would empower women and youth, develop the country’s natural resources including exploiting potential oil reserves and keep the nation safe from Islamic insurgents.

“The president has passed his mandate, and he doesn’t deserve to be there,” he said in an interview from his quiet residence in the former house of a British colonial official. “If we agree [with the ruling party] on one thing, that is the need to protect ourselves from al Shabab. We do recognise the threat that they represent. We are on our guard as much as we can.”

The most comprehensive plan to achieve international recognition for Somaliland is from Mr Waraabe, 58, a soft-spoken Finnish citizen who entered Somaliland politics in 2001. Mr Waraabe, the dark horse candidate in the election, said he can achieve recognition within one year if elected.

“First we need to make a viable state that respects human rights,” he said. “Then we will activate the more than 400,000 Somalilanders in the diaspora and use them to lobby to get recognition in their home countries.”

Mr Waraabe said a strong government would serve to counter violent extremism. “Terrorism is a result of anarchy. If we make a strong state, there won’t be groups like al Shabab.”

While he did not outline a specific plan to achieve recognition, Mr Silaanyo said self-determination would come once the international community realised Somaliland is the most stable region of Somalia.

“We pride ourselves in being an oasis of peace,” he said. “It is the only asset we have … Once we are more developed, we will be able to sell ourselves to the international community.”

Mr Riyale, for his part, is running on his record of creating security in Somaliland. Suicide bombers did manage to kill innocent Somalilanders last year, but that was an isolated incident, he said, and al Shabab and its sympathisers in Somaliland have been pushed underground.

“We are the only government in the Horn of Africa that is fighting terrorism,” he said. “I am doing a lot to bring stability to this country.”


Somalia: Somaliland leader forwards election commission list

HARGEISA, Somalia Oct 20 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland has forwarded the list of names for the new election commission members to parliament, Radio Garowe reports.

President Dahir Riyale met with the Council of Ministers on Tuesday in Hargeisa to discuss the new list and other election-related issues, according to a press statement from the president’s office.

The seven-member election commission consists of three members appointed by President Riyale, two members appointed by the House of Guurti, the upper house of parliament, and one member each appointed by opposition parties Kulmiye and UCID.

The president's statement said that the list was forwarded for ratification to the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives.

Somaliland's election commission resigned in late September to pave the way for the election deal between President Riyale and the opposition parties.


Somaliland: Rayale’s Delaying Tactics Frustrate The Opposition

HARGEISA, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-19 October 2009) - President Dahir Rayale has returned the commissioner nominees submitted by the opposition KUMLIYE party and the House of Elders to fill up the vacancies in the National Electoral Commission (NEC) following the resignation of all seven members of the commission.

“The president has no prerogative power to return the nominees as this is not provided for under the law,” said the leader of KULMIYE party, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo. Nevertheless Silanyo whose nominee, Ilhan Mohammed Jama, was returned three times by the president finally threw in the towel and replaced her today with another nominee.

President Rayale had been engaged for the past two weeks in the screening of the commissioner nominees submitted by the House of Elders and the two opposition parties ahead of the Home Affairs Subcommittee of the parliament which is vested with the power to decide the clearance and ratification of nominees.

Meanwhile president Rayale is playing his cards close to his chest and has not publicly or privately disclosed to the local media to judge the eligibility and suitability of his nominees to sit on the NEC. He was accused of “employing delaying tactics to hamper the formation of electoral commission” in an apparent attempt to delay the holding of the yet-to-be-scheduled presidential election.

The president has also returned the commissioner nominee submitted by the House of Elders after almost two weeks because of his failure to produce evidence of criminal conviction which he said was recorded against the nominee.

The nominee, Hassan Saeed Yousuf, is a high profile Somaliland journalist, who was arrested fifteen times by successive Somaliland administrations and appeared, at least four times, before Hargeisa provincial court. However, there was no occasion at all when a criminal conviction was recorded against Mr. Yousuf.

Despite this, Rayale has officially written to the House of Elders yesterday, saying that the former editor-in-chief of the Somali language daily, Jamhuuriya, is “leaning toward KULMIYE party” but failed to produce the flimsiest evidence to back up his claims.

Shortly before the leaders of three main Somaliland’s political parties put their signatures to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) brokered by western donor countries, Mr. Youseff was one of three renowned journalists appointed by the Umbrella Organisation of Professional Journalists in Somaliland for their objectivity and professionalism to mediate between the government and the opposition parties over the prevailing political stalemate at the time.

Yet again, in spite of the president’s failure to produce even the flimsiest evidence to back up his claims the leadership of the House of Elder today replaced their nominees with another nominee “without questioning, in the first place, whether the president’s claim was valid and even though he [the president] was acting beyond the bounds of his constitutional authority”.

So far the donor countries that brokered the MOU are watching from the sidelines as Rayale dictates the terms of eligibility and suitability of nominees submitted by opposition parties and House of Elders while keeping the nation guessing with his choice of nominees.

It remains to be seen whether the donor countries will wield the big stick against Rayale if this persistent “delaying tactics” continue to resurface in future.


SOMALIA: Rival clans "re-arming" over Somaliland farm

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. One of the farms in Buqdhada, near the disputed Elberdale farmland

HARGEISA, 16 October 2009 (IRIN) - Officials are warning renewed fighting is likely between two rival clans in breakaway Somaliland, where they are reported to have amassed a large number of weapons and positioned hundreds of militiamen near disputed farmland in Gabiley region.

"We are afraid new conflict could break out any time," a police officer, who requested anonymity, told IRIN, adding that the clans had at least 1,000 militiamen, armed with automatic rifles such as AK47 rifles and BKM handguns, in or near the Elberdale farmland area.

The dispute over the farmland dates back to the 1950s with the two clans - the Reer Nour and Reer Hared - each claiming ownership.

Since the beginning of 2009, they have fought at least four times: in April, May, July and September, resulting in 19 deaths and several hundred families displaced.

Dahir Muhumed Eggeh, one of the Reer Hared militiamen, said a farming project, established in the late 1950s, was at the centre of the conflict, which came to a head in 1988. The clans fought on opposite sides of the 1981-1991 war between the Somali National Movement (Somaliland's liberation organization) and the army, which was loyal to then Somali president, the late Mohamed Siad Barre. The Reer Nour supported Barre while Reer Hared supported the SNM.

Aw Hassan Diiriye Elmi, a former chairman of Gabiley District, said: "This conflict is linked to the repercussions of [actions by] Siad Barre, who tried to remove one of the clans from their land... we came back to the country from refugee camps to find new signs put up by our neighbours, who have since tried to take away our lands."

With the two clans arming militiamen, the price of handguns and other light weapons has gone up.

"Before [in 2008], light weapons, such as a Kalashnikov, cost US$370-400, but now it goes for between $650 and $700," one of the militia leaders in Elberdale said.

Weapons smuggling

The militia leader, who requested anonymity, said: "There are two routes for weapons to enter Somaliland - crossing from Bosasso [in Puntland] to the eastern regions of Somaliland, and from the west, especially the area between Zaila and Lughaya at a place called Sanka Doonyaha, where fast boats load weapons at night."

Abdillahi Omar Qawdhan, a Somaliland coast guard consultant and marine expert, told IRIN: "We have information that illegal small arms are smuggled to parts of the Somaliland coast but what we know is that small-calibre ammunition is imported to the west coast in sacks by the Yemeni boats that import fuel and other items to the west coast ports such as Cel-Sheik, Bula-Har, Bulo-Addo and Zaila.

"We have information that even small arms such as the BKM and bullets are being imported by local businessmen. Weapons destined for Ethiopia as well as Somalia have been smuggled to these places.

"Since the beginning of 2009, we have recovered more than 300 pistols [smuggled in] from Yemen in the eastern Berbera [Sahil region]," he said.

However, Mohamed Osman Hudhun, Somaliland's western coast army chief, disputed this, saying: "There are no weapons imported into the western coast because I am from this area and every single incident is reported to me."


Firm to Fund Berbera Port

ADDIS ABABA, 15 Oct 2009 (Somalilandpress) – French company Bollore Africa Logistics is to invest €500-million in the Somali port of Berbera, a crucial lifeline for landlocked Ethiopia, a diplomat said Wednesday.

Berbera, less than 300 kilometres east of the former French colony of Djibouti, faces Yemen on the Gulf of Aden and is the economic capital of Somaliland, a breakaway state more stable than the rest of Somalia.

“Bollore is about to invest €500-million in Berbera port to improve the port and create a new corridor to the hinterland. Ethiopia is very excited about that,” a French diplomat based in Addis Ababa said.

“The project is not completely finalised, but Bollore has a huge presence in West Africa and is interested in East Africa,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The company is part of a group owned by Vincent Bollore, a leader in West Africa’s ports sector and close friend of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Somalia has the longest coastline on the continent and forms the “horn” of Africa, which juts out into the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden and commands access to some of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.

Ethiopia has had good relations with the self-proclaimed government of Somaliland and is heavily reliant on the port of Berbera for supplies.

The Bollore group confirmed to AFP in Paris it was interested in the project but did not elaborate further.

“We have not made an offer yet and no amount has been agreed,” a spokesperson said.

Source: Money Biz


VOA Launches FM Radio Station in Hargeisa, Somaliland

HARGEISA, 15 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Washington anelists emphasized the role of free press in promoting democracy at a Town Hall in Hargeisa, Somaliland today as the Voice of America (VOA) launched a new radio station in the Somalia breakaway region.

“We expect this station to serve our people impartially and to inform us – not just with news – but with balanced reports and knowledge,” Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin said as he welcomed VOA’s new broadcast.

The launch of 88.0 FM brought together journalists, government officials, opposition members and civil society activists who gathered afterwards for a discussion entitled, “A Free Press in a Democracy.”

Panelists praised the gains in independent media, but said challenges remain. Faisal Ali Sheikh, chairman of Jamhuriya newspaper, opposed pending legislation that would require the Ministry of Information to review advertisements.

“The media should lobby against the amendment … which is aimed at restricting the freedom of the press,” Ali Sheikh said. Other panelists included Su’as Hussein Hagi Elmi, a female activist and Mohamoud Hussain Farah, dean of Hargeisa Univesity’s Department of Law.

During an interview with VOA’s Somali service, Somaliland’s main opposition leader, Ahmed Mohammed Silanyo, also expressed his appreciation for the new station. “We are happy to see the Voice of American launch this FM station which will help the people of Somaliland,” Silanyo said.

VOA Hargeisa 88.0 will air 24 hours of VOA programs daily. The broadcast stream includes three and half hours of news and features from VOA’s Somali service along with popular English news, discussion and music programs such as World News Now, Daybreak Africa, Hip Hop Connection and Music Mix. Besides Somali, VOA also broadcasts in English and 11 other languages throughout Africa.

Media News International


The four weeks that shook Somaliland

HARGEISA, 12 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – For the last four weeks, Somaliland has witnessed one of its critical political situations in connection to the following reasons.

There was a general concensus among Somaliland people regardless of their various social groupings and regional divisions (wherever they live in the country and abroad) that Somaliland was on the verge of collapse.

This situation arose mainly from the ineptitude and ineffectiveness of Somaliland government to respect the different timetables for the long-awaited presidental election to take place. The presidential election of Somaliland has been extended previously for three times. It became apparent that the president and the vice president whose terms in office expires on the 29th of October, 2009, have not been willing to leave office according to the rules and regulations of the game. The implications of this was huge and it has affected all sections across the society and Somaliland institutions.

The Parliament

The parliament passed a resolution asserting that the president’s refusal of the election to be based on the voter registration system was unconstitutional and demanded the president to retract from this decision.

The president did not listen to the parliament’s resolution and as a consequence of this, the parliament introduced a proposal for the impeachment of the president and the vice president. In response to this, the president and his government used all their power to discredit one of the cherished institutions of the state – the parliament, for example, by dividing the parliamentarians and bribing some of them in kind and in cash to stop the impeachment.

Those parliamentarians put a counter proposal to dethrone the speaker of the parliament and his two deputies. Later the confrontation reached unprecedented level including fighting in the parliament among the MPs and the arrival of police and security forces in the parliament premises. To the surprise of everyone, the police confiscated the keys of the premises of the parliament and ordered the speaker and the MPs to leave the parliament compound.

In addition to this, in the evening of the same day, they also confiscated the keys of the Chamber of the Elders (Guurti). This was one of the intensive political moments in the Somaliland political history.

Outside the parliament, huge crowds of people assembled to safeguard their parliament and when the speaker and his deputies came out, they were welcomed by cheerful greetings and with ruptured vioces and claps.

The closure of the parliament became a very worrying situation for the Somaliland people and their friends all over the world. People were nervous. Their country that has been praised for its stability and democratic culture has suddenly appeared to be falling into unpredictable political abyss.

Important people from the society including religious, traditional and business people intervened to mediate among the stakeholders and asked the president to return the keys of the parliament.

Also the chairman of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman Mohamoud Adam, contacted the president and warned him of the grave situation of confiscating the keys of the parliament. As a result of these pressures, the government accepted to return the keys of the House of Elders, but still retained the keys of the House of Representatives.

After heated discussions between the chairman of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman and the president, the president told Suleiman that he would also hand the keys of the House of Representatives to him. But instead, the president sent the keys to the head of the traditional leaders who, though important, operate outside the Somaliland institutional framework. This made the head of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman further angry and bewildered and he accused the president of playing political games and not keeping his words, and not giving the due respect that the state institutions deserve.

The fact that the keys were not handed to Suleiman but instead to the head of the traditional leaders further complicated the situation. On the other hand, the speaker of the parliament and his deputies were determined to return to their offices whatever that costs them if the keys were not handed over soon.

Eventually, the mediators gave a promise to the speaker of the parliament that they would take the keys from the president and the parliament would be reopened soon. But that did not take place, either. The following day, the speaker and his deputies drove to the parliament premises and with the support of the crowd outside the parliament, they managed to enter the parliament compound.

The police around the parliament premises fired at the crowd. Two young people were shot dead and several others were wounded. Inside the parliament, the impeachment discussion restarted and those pro-government MPs continued to disrupt the proceedings of the parliament to stop the impeachment discussions.

The Guurti

Inside the Guurti, there was another equally important discussion that was dealing with the extension of the period of the president and his vice president beyond the 29th of October, 2009. The Guurti was divided across the middle around this question. Some of them believed that enough was enough and no more extensions and wanted the president and his government to work with the political parties to accelerate the election processes and the date instead of requesting all the time for extensions.

On the Thursday night (24th of September, 2009), the chairman of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman invited the three political parties to speak to the Guurti about their views and positions on the intriguing issues of the election. The two opposition political parties, UCID and Kulmiye came to the hall of the Guurti and spoke to the Guurti members to stop extending the period for the president and the vice president and to accept the six points worked by the international community. The fact that the Guurti wanted to extend the period of the president for another one year was unacceptable.

Chairman of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman was strongly in favour that all stakeholders accepted the six points proposed by the international community. Although the president declared that he accepted the six points proposed, nevertheles, his party (UDUB) did not come to the important Guurti meeting on Thursday. This arose suspicion in the opposition political parties and immediately believed that the president is not sincere about his promise regarding the six-point proposal.

In the evening of Thursday, the two political parties, UCID and Kulmiye held a press conference at Imperial Hotel. Including in the press statements were, that they would form a government if the Guurti makes another extension for the president. They also said their supporters would come back to the streets and continue their peaceful demonstrations.

At 8:30 in the evening, the president sent three senior ministers to meet the chairman of UCID Party, Faisal Ali Warabe to persuade him to retreat what the two political parties said regarding the formation of a government and the re-starting of the demonstrations. Faisal refused and instead said if you continue the idea of extension, then we shall not afraid and refrain to form a government and to come back to the streets.

After the ministers took this message to the president, there were a hot debate among the key closest ministers of the president. Some of them including the Interior Minister raised the gravity of the situation while some of the more hawkish members suggested to use more power against the opposition including arresting their leaders.

International community

The international community which was worried about the worsening political developments in Somaliland intervened to help the situation. When they listened to all parties, they formulated a six points compromise on the 23rd of September, 2009. UCID Party immediately accepted all the six points. On the second day, this was followed by the acceptance of Kulmiye. On Friday night, around 3:30 in the morning, the president accepted the six-point proposal. He sent this message to the Guurti telling them that he abandoned his earlier stand and wholeheartedly now accepted the six points proposed by the international community, and accordingly the Guurti accepted his message.

This was a complete reversal of the president’s earlier statement. Consequently, on Friday morning the Guurti eventually passed unanimously a proposal accepting all the six points worked by the international community and put aside the extension.

The local arbitration committee

The local arbitration committee consisted mainly of four groups: (1) the leading business people, (2) the prominent religious scholars, (3) the traditional clan leaders and (4) non-state actors (civil society and intellectual). They all wanted to bring all the sides together but their agenda and their interests were definitely different. Some of them were putting more pressure on the opposition rather than to be fair and independent. But on the whole, they were all working hard that the country should not be plunged into crisis.

Here comes a question: Who is to congratulate for this breakthrough of the stalemate? Many people heaped a lot of compliments on the Guurti as a whole, but that is not the case.

The credit goes to the following:

§ Guurti: In the Guurti context, definitely there were a group led by the chairman of the Guurti, Mr. Suleiman who fought to the teeth to stop the extension.

§ Parliament: In the parliament, the impeachment issue worried the president’s camp a lot. Though the government wanted to stop the impeachment even by pro-government MPs to fight in the parliament, finally they realised they could not stop the impeachment because of mainly the remarkable insistance of the chair (shirgudoonka) who stick to the constitution of the country.

§ The opposition political parties: UCID and Kulmiye who organised their action intelligently and smartly in that critical period and moreover, the contributions primarily made by the chairman of the UCID, Engineer Faisal Ali Warabe, particularly his strong message to the president through the three key ministers mentioned above.

§ The people’ power: Somaliland people who, by their demostrations, expressed that no more extension period be allowed.

And finally, who were the winners? Peace and Security and the Continuation of the Democratic Process in Somaliland.

By Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan


Ethiopia: French company may manage Berbera Port

Addis Ababa, October 12, 2009. (http://www.ezega.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?Page=heads&NewsID=1783)-- Bollore Africa Logistics (SDV international), a French-based company, is close to striking a deal to manage Berbera Port, Capital has learnt. Eng.Ali Omer Mohamed, General Manager of Berbera Port Authority announced that a memorandum of understanding was signed between SDV representatives and port officials four months ago. He said: "We are looking at and dealing with this big French company in that regard." However, he also admitted that since the memorandum of understanding was signed there has been little progress.

SDV's agent in Addis Ababa did not have any comment on the issue. The Somaliland press said on 28 May, 2009 that a delegation of French officials arrived on a private jet in the Somaliland port city of Berbera for talks with the President of Somaliland Dahir Rayale Kahin and other senior officials who had travelled from the capital, Hargeissa.

The port manager told Capital that this French company was interested in investing in the port. According to the local media, Bollore was the first logistics network integrated in Africa and has over 200 agencies throughout the continent.

Engineer Ali Omer Mohamed said that both the Governments of Ethiopia and Somaliland are working together to upgrade the port, and that everything is now underway. He added that neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, can utilise the port for competitive and reasonable tariffs.

The security situation of Somaliland in general, and the Berbera Port in particular, are now considered stable and the Ethiopian business community can use the port freely. The port manger said it is very safe for trucks, containers and the necessary facilities for truck drivers are maintained.

Abdullahi M. Duale, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland said that Ethiopia is not a landlocked country because it has Berbera Port that it can utilise it as its own. The minister noted that Ethiopian and Somaliland are not only partners in security, but partner in trade; currently the World Food Programme is using the port as an alternative entry into Ethiopia to bring in its emergency relief packages for those people in Somali region who are critically short of food.

The foreign minister added that the port will have regional importance and that there are plans for its development, including a major new access road. He concluded: "We will be sending very soon a technical committee to Addis Ababa which will be looking in a comprehensive way at to how to start the activity. We will be hoping to sign a memorandum of understanding."

Berbera Port Fact File
- It is 1090 km from Addis Ababa
- It is located on the south coast of the Gulf of Aden
- Its time zone is GMT plus three hours
- Ships approach southeast from the Red Sea and southwest from Gulf States
- The depth of the entrance bay is approximately 30 metres.
- The depth of the water ranges from nine to 12 metres.

Source: Addis Mulugeta, Capital


Somalia: Somaliland President Rejects New Election Commission Members

Hargeisa, 12 October 2009 Garowe Online (Garowe)— The leader of Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland has rejected two new members of the election commission presented by opposition parties, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale rejected two new members of the election commission, saying that the opposition representatives did not fulfill "selection criteria."

The two new members, Ms. Ilhan Mohamed Jama of Kulmiye party and Mr. Khadar Mohamed Guled of UCID party, were presented as the new opposition representatives in Somaliland's seven-seat election commission.

It was unclear what "selection criteria" the new candidates for the election commission failed to fulfill, but Kulmiye party chairman Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo issued a press statement responding to President Riyale's rejection Sunday and demanding an explanation.

"Mr. President, there is no clause in the laws of the country [Somaliland] giving you the authority to reshuffle the election commission," Mr. Silanyo's press statement read.

Further, Somaliland's opposition leader warned President Riyale to "avoid anything that can hinder the normal procedural process of the six-agreement."

Last month, Somaliland's political rivals signed an agreement ending the months-long dispute over delayed presidential election. The six-point agreement, which was brokered by foreign diplomats, called for new appointees to the election commission.

President Riyale's rejection of the new election commission candidates has raised concerns of a new and emerging dispute that could threaten the six-point agreement, said sources in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital


Somaliland farmers are allowed back into the fold

Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent, October 09. 2009, The National UAE / October 8. 2009. mbrown@thenational.

Cattle dealers, such as Mohamed Ismail, receive 90 per cent of their business from the Middle East. Tim Freccia for The National

HARGEISA, SOMALIA // Millions of Muslims across the Middle East slaughtered sheep to celebrate the Eid feast at the end of Ramadan. Many of those animals were probably raised here, on the dusty plains of Somaliland, growing fat on the many green pastures hidden in the rugged landscape.

Livestock rearing is a way of life in the Horn of Africa and nomadic Somalis have practised it for centuries. Here in Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia, the economy thrives on the sale of sheep, goats and cattle.

“Livestock is the backbone of our economy,” said Oumer Yusef Booh, the dean of economics at the University of Hargeisa in the Somaliland capital. “During Ramadan we sell over a million sheep to the Middle East in one month.”

The Middle East, including the UAE, accounts for 90 per cent of Somaliland livestock sales. The rest is exported to the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Djibouti. Saudi Arabia, once a large trading partner with Somaliland, has had an embargo on Somaliland livestock for the past 10 years, which crippled the economy of this fledgling nation.

The Middle East, including the UAE, accounts for 90 per cent of Somaliland livestock sales. Tim Freccia for The National Saudi officials have said the reason for the ban, which began in 1998, is that animals from Somaliland could be infected with Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne virus that kills livestock and humans. But analysts in Somaliland suspect the motive purely political.

A strong, united Somalia is seen by Arab states as a counterweight to regional rival Ethiopia, which has poor relations with the Arab world. Moreover, Arab countries worry that recognising a breakaway state could set a precedent for other areas in the region with aspirations for independence.

In 1991, as Somalia plunged into a civil war that is still ongoing, Somaliland seceded from its union with greater Somalia. In the last two decades, Somalilanders have managed to build government institutions and security forces with little help from the international community, which does not recognise Somaliland’s independence.

The ironic result is that a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa is an unrecognised state. The Arab league along with most of the international community wants a strong, united Somalia and continues to back the beleaguered government in Mogadishu.

Photo: Baraud Kahin has been a camel trader for seven years and calls livestock trading 'the greatest business in Somaliland'. Tim Freccia for The National

“When Saudi Arabia banned our livestock, it was politically motivated,” Mr Booh said. “The Arab states don’t want Somaliland to be independent. The Rift Valley fever was just an excuse. It was in Kenya but not in Somaliland.”

Because of its unrecognised status, Somaliland receives no direct aid from the international community.

Aside from its livestock, the country has little else to export. It is too dry for agriculture and there is but a small, underdeveloped commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Aden. A handful of Somalilanders are involved in the growing trade of frankincense, a fragrant resin obtained from the Boswellia trees of Somaliland. But livestock remains king.

Somaliland exports two million sheep per year, mostly to the UAE, Yemen and neighbouring countries, according to the government. Another 250,000 head of cattle and camels are sold from Somaliland. The exports are estimated to be worth around US$250 million (Dh920m).

Recently there have been signs of a thaw in Somaliland’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Somaliland government and Saudi investors completed a livestock quarantine station in the port city of Berbera that will allow officials to screen animals for disease before being exported.

“The problem was a lack of quarantine,” Dahir Riyale Kahin, the president of Somaliland, said in an interview. “We have made a good quarantine in Berbera. We have high hopes that before the Haj, we will be shipping to Saudi Arabia.”

In 2007, Said Suleiman al Jabiry, a Saudi investor who built the US$5 million (Dh18.3m) quarantine in Somaliland, signed a deal with the government giving him exclusive rights to all the country’s livestock at a fixed price.

Somaliland traders, outraged at what they called a monopoly, began smuggling their animals out of discreet ports to find better prices on the open market. The government, losing customs and excise revenue, eventually opened up the market for competition last year.

In a dusty, windswept field on the outskirts of Hargeisa, traders meet each morning to buy and sell livestock. Nomadic herders with ochre-coloured hair and red robes travel to the city with long lines of camels and sheep.

Baraud Kahin, 59, has been a camel trader for seven years. On a recent morning, he had seven camels for sale and he had already sold one for around $400.

“This is the greatest business in Somaliland,” he said. “It is how we survive.”

Mohamed Muhamed, a sheep dealer, said the time between Ramadan and the Haj is always good for business. During these months, he said he can move up to 50 sheep a day at $50 per head. The opening up of the Saudi market will be great for business, he said.

“It was a political thing with the Arabs, but now it is OK,” he said. “Business will be good this season.”


Somaliland stability 'under threat'

BBC, 8 October 2009

Tensions boiled over last month when opposition activists fought with police

Somaliland has been hailed as a beacon of stability in the troubled Horn of Africa region since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991. But BBC Africa analyst Mary Harper reports that some experts now believe the self-declared republic is at crisis point.

Michael Walls - co-coordinator of the international election observer mission to Somaliland - has issued a report bemoaning the repeated postponement of the presidential election.

In his report for the Chatham House think-tank, he says that if the situation is not resolved, the territory will inevitably lose many of the gains it has made since breaking away from Somalia.

Somaliland's stability has surprised many people. Although no country has recognised its independent status, it has managed to avoid many of the problems encountered by its neighbours.

This is partly because it has developed a unique hybrid system of government.

A traditional house of elders or "guurti" is combined with other more modern institutions. There is a limited system of democracy, whereby only three political parties are allowed to exist.

This mixture of the modern and the traditional has been a largely effective way of governing. But recent developments put all this at risk.

"With international attention focused on piracy off the Puntland coast, the rise of militant Islam in southern Somalia, and the threat this is perceived to represent to international security and global terrorism, the potential for deterioration in Somaliland must surely be cause for concern," says Mr Walls.

The current tension in Somaliland centres on the postponement of the presidential election, which was due to have been held on 27 September.

This is not the first time the vote has been delayed - it has been postponed at least three times since last year.

President Dahir Riyale Kahin's term in office - which was meant to run out in May 2008 - has been extended several times.

It is currently due to expire on 29 October, and it is unclear what will happen after that.

Fist-fight

This uncertainty has led to increased concern about Somaliland in the international community, and a flare-up of political animosity within the territory.

"There is no crisis in Somaliland", Adam Musse Jibril, Somaliland representative in the UK

In September, for example, there was a fist-fight in parliament during discussions about a possible impeachment of the president. One MP is even reported to have drawn a gun, although no shots were fired.

Mr Walls says one of the main reasons for the repeated postponement of the polls is what he has described as the incompetence of the national electoral commission.

"Fears are widespread that the electoral commissioners will find themselves incapable of providing the organisation required for a successful presidential election," he says.

"Even if an election date was agreed, the commission wouldn't be able to organise the vote."

Another problem has been the inability of Somaliland's three political parties to agree on a voters' register.

Opposition MPs want the president impeached over the poll disputes The previous presidential election in April 2003 was held without a register. But as President Riyale won by the narrowest of margins - just 80 votes - it was widely agreed that a more robust system was required to help avoid future problems.

The compilation of a voters' register has been fraught with difficulty.

"The process has been marred by astonishingly widespread fraud and mismanagement", says Mr Walls.

More than half of those who registered did so without providing a readable fingerprint. Many people were registered without being photographed - instead, they brought their own pictures, which were held up in front of a camera and photographed.

There has been no widespread population count in Somaliland since the 1970s, and there is great sensitivity about the compilation of a new voters' register because it is likely to provide a different picture of the region, altering the balance of power between the clans.

This could have serious political implications, altering voting patterns and possibly the outcome of elections.

Animosity remains

The government of Somaliland insists there is no serious cause for concern about the political situation.

"There is no crisis in Somaliland. I accept there are some problems but these are mainly caused by the lack of economic development," says Adam Musse Jibril, Somaliland's representative in the UK.

Mr Jibril said people had to trust the territory's record of resolving political disputes.

"Somaliland has been able to achieve this by combining modern democratic systems with our traditional value systems, where people sit under a tree to talk, argue, and eventually reach a consensus," he says.

But political animosity remains. Mohamed Omar of the opposition Kulmiye party says he does not believe the government will honour a memorandum of understanding recently agreed on a possible way out of the political impasse.

Mr Walls says it is not too late for Somaliland. But he says a presidential election must be held as soon as possible.

"The dangers of instability and authoritarianism characteristic of a number of Somaliland's neighbours can still be averted, but the traditions of dialogue still urgently need to be reactivated", he says.


Somaliland Expands its Petroleum Licensing Round Acreage

Source: Business Wire, Oct 05, 2009

HARGEISA, Somaliland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Somaliland Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources (Ministry) announced today that it will add 6,221 square kilometers of onshore acreage in block SL3 to their petroleum licensing round, closing in December 2009.

The bid round now includes nine concession blocks comprised of more than 95,845 square kilometers of onshore and offshore areas. The deadline for final submission of bids is December 15, 2009 and concessions will be awarded on March 15, 2010.

Seismic, aeromagnetic data and interpretive datasets over the region are available from TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company (TGS). The information on bid round application is also available through TGS.


Somaliland: Electoral Commission Resigns

05 October 2009 (http://www.somalilandglobe.com/)

Four members of the Electoral Commission, including the chairman, resigned a day after two other members also resigned bringing the total that resigned to 6 out of the 7 members of the commission. Their refusal to resign, as demanded by the opposition parties and the Donor countries that assist Somaliland’s democratisation process, has been a stumbling block to free and fair election in Somaliland.

Mr. Jama Mohamed Omar, who chaired the commission since February, strongly opposed calls for his resignation by the opposition parties. The opposition parties believe Omar made several decisions that compromised the neutrality of the commission. His decision to support of the suspension of the voter list and the expulsion of Interpeace, the agency that assisted Somaliland on democratisation, was considered one of the most contentious actions taken by the commission since its formation.

In their demand for the resignation of the commission members, the opposition cited lack of consultation before the body made important decisions that seriously impacted the need for a timely restoration of democracy in Somaliland.

Pressure is mounting on the only remaining commission member, Mr. Ali Mohamed Abdalla (Biikalo) who is also the deputy chairman, to tender his resignation. Abdalla was appointed by KULMIYE opposition party and has been a member of the commission since May last year. He lost the confidence of the opposition parties after he supported Riyale’s decision to suspend the voter list and expel Interpeace.

Mr. Jama M. Omar’s maintained a steadfast refusal to resign hoping that some compromise will be reached between the political parties that will alllow him to stay in the commission, however yesterday’s resignation of two moderate commission members, Ismail Mussa Nur and Khadar Mohamed Guled, made his position untenable.

The appointment of the 7 member commission is considered to be a major factor in the failure by the commission to achieve its goals. Three of the commission members are appointed by the president. Two of the remaining 4 are appointed the by Upper House of Parliament (Guurti) while the two opposition parties each appoint one member. Critics blame lack of independence and transparency in the process of appointing commission members, 5 of which are appointed by the president and the Guurti. The opposition had criticised the president and the Guurti for selecting those five members only on the basis of their loyalty to the ruling UDUB party.


Somalia: Somaliland Elections - Fifth Time Lucky?

Yarik Turianskyi, 5 October 2009, allAfrica.com. guest column

Last week the citizens of Somaliland were due to have elected their president for the next five years. However, they did not get to the polls, since elections were postponed for the fourth time. What does the future hold for the self-declared, independent, and unrecognised Somaliland in the Horn of Africa?

After the end of colonialism in Africa, Somaliland was independent for a short period in the 1960s, between the end of British rule and the establishment of a union with the former Italian colony of Somalia. Following the overthrow of the military dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, Somaliland proclaimed independence on May 18, 1991.

However, nearly two decades later Somaliland is not recognised by any country or international organisation. Nevertheless, the largely nomadic country has managed not only to survive, but even enjoy relative peace and stability – at least until now.

At present Somaliland is experiencing political unrest as a result of postponed elections. The term of office of the current president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, expired in April 2008, but the poll was delayed in order to complete voter registration. Since then, elections have been postponed repeatedly. The latest delay was a result of complaints about irregularities on the new voters' registration list – the first to be drawn up since Somaliland's formation.

While both the government and opposition parties wanted elections to go ahead, their conditions for this to happen differed. The opposition insisted that they take place on the basis of the flawed list, while the government suggested that the ballot should take place without a list. This prompted the opposition to set in motion the impeachment of the president. When officials put it up for debate, parliamentarians started fighting – one even pulled out a gun although no shots were fired.

While Somaliland was previously praised for a lack of violence in spite of political disagreements, this changed on September 12 when three people died and another six were injured during a confrontation in which police used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse opposition supporters protesting over the election delays.

In recent days it has been announced that the ruling and opposition parties have signed a six-clause agreement, formally ending the crisis. The agreement reportedly prohibits the current government from extending its term without consulting the opposition, calls for the election commission to be replaced and asks for international experts to complete the new computerised voter registration system.

What next for Somaliland?

Even though the early years of the nation's existence were characterised by power struggles among rival clans, they eventually reached power-sharing agreements which resulted in its unique political structure: a hybrid system of governance consisting of a lower house of elected representatives and an upper house incorporating tribal clan elders. Somaliland even fulfils all four of the prerequisites of statehood laid down in the 1933 Montevideo Convention: a territory, a government, a population and the ability to enter into international agreements.

But in its quest for full statehood Somaliland lacks the most important unwritten qualification – recognition by fellow states in the international system. Whether the incumbent president stays or someone else comes to power, it is highly unlikely that this will change. Due to its "non-state" status, Somaliland cannot formally trade with other nations or seek financial assistance from global financial institutions. The backbone of its economy is livestock and donations from the diaspora.

Might Somaliland be awarded statehood in the future? This is a sensitive topic. The United States has previously claimed that "while the United States does not recognise Somaliland as an independent state, and we continue to believe that the question of Somaliland's independence should be resolved by the African Union, we continue regularly to engage with Somaliland as a regional administration."

Thus a global power whose recognition of Somaliland could lead the way for other governments believes Africa's principal intergovernmental organization should handle the matter. The African Union has already sent fact-finding missions to Somaliland in 2005 and 2008.

According to Iqbal Jhazbhay, an associate professor at the University of South Africa and author of Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, "while the momentum for Somaliland's recognition is picking up, ultimately it is up to the African states to take it forward… the problem here is that Somalia is the priority and as a consequence the case of Somaliland becomes marginalised."

Thus far the African Union has been reluctant to question territorial integrity and unwilling to re-draw artificially-created colonial boundaries, however illogical. Whether this is right or wrong, it is certainly practical. On a continent with more 3,000 different ethnic groups, recognising secession may be a dangerous precedent, opening the way for the breakdown of many artificial states. However, the case of Somaliland, as a territory which briefly enjoyed independence after decolonisation, may be different.

Although it seems that for the immediate future at least it will remain an autonomous territory rather than a full state, the international community is set to be more involved. International diplomats mediated in the territory for the first time during last month's election crisis. And the new election date will be set exactly one month after the international experts say they can complete the new voter registration system. While these developments fall far short of official international recognition for Somaliland, they are positive signs for the country that is not a state.

Yarik Turianskyi is a researcher on the Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg.


Somalia: Somaliland's election crisis and the lessons of democracy

5 Oct 5, 2009 (Garowe Online Editorial)

SUNDAY EDITORIAL | A noteworthy example of the ideological conflict between "Western democracy" and "radical Islam" takes place in the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland"

The pursuit of democracy in Africa has been advanced by politicians eager to appease Western powers and attract foreign direct investment chiefly as a means of clinging on to power, and secondly, for the well-being of their respective societies. Thus, this remains the main reason Africa's post-colonial history has been plagued by dictators and tyrants, many of whom were Western-educated elites in their own countries. In recent decades, and especially so during the leadership of U.S. President George W. Bush, the notion of spreading the idea of "Western democracy" to the Third World has gained historic momentum and unprecedented funding – with Western thinkers aiming to mainly target Muslim masses in Africa and parts of Asia, including the Middle East, in order to contain the spread of "radical Islam."

A noteworthy example of the ideological conflict between "Western democracy" and "radical Islam" takes place in the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" – an unrecognized independent country located inside Somalia, a country strategically located in the Horn of Africa sub-region with close proximity to the Middle East. Somalia is predominately Muslim and has endured nearly 20 years of civil war, mass exodus, droughts and national disintegration. Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, has faired relatively better than most regions in southern and central Somalia. Since unilaterally declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland has had a functioning government with a President, a bi-cameral Parliament and a Judiciary. The separatist republic has held local, parliamentary and presidential elections that have been widely described as peaceful and orderly.

Somaliland's leaders have ascribed to the view that international recognition can come from Western powers and, therefore, have modeled their government on democratic nations in the West. The concept, of course, was to conform to "Western democracy" as best as possible and to campaign for international recognition, by pointing to popular elections and a stable political system in a part of the world largely wracked by political violence and ruled by dictators. The "war on terror" madness of the Bush years was expertly played by Somaliland leaders, who arrested "terrorists" and warned Western powers about the spread of "radical Islam."

Election crisis

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale was elected in a popular vote in 2003, beating the closest challenger, Mr. Ahmed Silanyo, by less than 90 votes. The opposition leader accepted President Riyale's election victory – itself a remarkable feat in regional politics. Five years later, nearing the end of Riyale's presidential term in office, Somaliland's upper house of parliament, the House of Guurti, issued a controversial vote awarding President Riyale an additional year in office. Naturally, opposition leaders were angered by the move and thus began Somaliland's long election crisis.

Since that controversial vote, President Riyale received another six-month term extension and attempted to gain additional time in office by recently postponing the delayed presidential election scheduled for September 29, 2009, thereby deepening Somaliland's election crisis until riots erupted in the capital Hargeisa when three civilians were killed in clashes between protestors and the police on Sep. 12, 2009.

International mediators, namely representatives from the United Kingdom and Ethiopia, traveled to Hargeisa to intervene on behalf of the international community to help protect Somaliland from political collapse, avoid the opening of a power vacuum that would attract rebel elements associated with the ongoing wars in south-central Somalia and, again, to contain the spread of "radical Islam" in a part of Somalia where "Western democracy" is gaining a foothold. On September 30, 2009, Somaliland's political rivals inked a six-point agreement ending the election crisis and firmly placing Somaliland back on the road towards good governance and democratic rule. For this, the people and politicians of Somaliland deserve our praise and prayers – that peace in Hargeisa can only be peace for the Somali people.

Lessons of democracy

In terms of Somaliland, the mediator's role played by foreigners is truly a loss, but acceptable under the circumstances as a last resort. Somaliland has long been cherished as a place where the local people have resolved their political differences "under a tree," as often stated by Somaliland's leader when addressing international media. In the end, what matters is that the peace was preserved and the system left largely intact.

Secondly, in terms of lessons to be learned, Somaliland's election crisis provides a case-study and perhaps a blueprint for creating the perfect ensemble of African customs and Western ideas, thereby increasing harmony between the local people and the international community. The election crisis was triggered by two key factors: 1) President Riyale's term extensions; and 2) the dispute over voter-registration. When addressing the latter, one must take into account that the push for "Western democracy" in Somaliland – with hordes of people in line, displaying ink-stained fingers – injected more than US$15million to fund the voter-registration process, all the while a devastating drought raged in many parts of Somaliland, and Somalia as a whole.

One must then ask: is such funding, requiring personnel, equipment and valuable time, better used funding water and food relief projects and creating economic opportunities in the countryside and coastal areas, or financing a multi-million dollar computer project intended for the industrialized world? Truly speaking, "Western democracy" is successful in Western countries because they are not facing a massive humanitarian challenge, such as a devastating drought, or functioning under a delicate political situation. Furthermore, such multi-million dollar projects are economically beneficial to Western countries – who initially donated the funds – in the sense that the expertise and the equipment mainly originate in the West.

The lesson here is that Somaliland's leaders need to re-envision the region's long-term interests and top priorities – that blindly pursuing another man's vision of the world will ultimately lead to crises. Appeasing Western powers at one's own expense might be a temporary means of clinging on to power, but ultimately, what will that mean for the next three generations of children born in Somaliland?


Somalia: Somaliland rivals meet to push forward election deal

HARGEISA, Somalia Oct 5 (Garowe Online) - Political leaders in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland have met for the first time since last week's election deal, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale met privately with the leaders of opposition parties Kulmiye and UCID, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo and Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe, respectively.

The meeting took place Sunday evening at the State House in Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital city.

The Somaliland president's spokesman, Mr. Said Adani, told reporters that the meeting's discussions included "implementation of the six-point agreement the three political parties recently signed, which is intended to end the political dispute" in Somaliland.

It was the first time Somaliland's political rivals met face-to-face since the election crisis deepened earlier this year. On Sep. 30, Somaliland's political leaders signed an election deal ending the political crisis that arose from delayed presidential elections and a dispute over the voter-registration process.


Hope as Somaliland opts for dialogue

By FRED OLUOCH, The EastAfrican, October 04, 2009

Political compromise in Somaliland brokered by international donors has helped avert violence but information on the ground point to a shaky truce that can break any time.

A political stalemate between President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the opposition following the postponement of presidential elections scheduled for September 27, had threatened to plunge the self-declared state into turmoil.

Recently, the three political parties agreed on a six-point programme to help save the country from strife, given that the opposition had threatened to boycott the elections and seek other means of removing the president from power, while the incumbent had earlier vowed to push on with elections even without a voter-register.

The six areas of agreement include changes in the National Electoral Commission; solving technical problems that had impeded voter-registration; the date of elections to be set by a reconstituted electoral commission and technical experts rather than politicians; the three political parties to work together to avoid divisive politics; the pending elections and future elections to be based on voter-registration; and the three political parties to issue a joint statement calling for unity and patriotism.

Subsequently, on September 22, the House of Elders commonly known as Guurti voted to extend the life of the current government for the sake of the country.

Somaliland, which unilaterally declared its independence in 1991 following the collapse of Siad Bare’s government, held successful multi-party presidential elections in 2003 and parliamentary elections in 2005.

But subsequently, the country — that is yet to receive international recognition — has been unable to hold elections.

By law, only three parties are registered: the incumbent’s United Democratic Peoples’ Party, the main opposition party Kulmiye, led by veteran politician, Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, and the Party for Justice and Welfare.

Analysts were hoping that orderly and democratic presidential elections would strengthen its quest for global recognition, given the escalating chaos in the southern region.

Yet, the presidential elections were postponed in 2007 and again in 2008 due to what officials called technical problems, including inadequate voter registration.

The poll was then set to be held before April 6, 2009, following a civil registration process.

But again, the 2009 elections have been repeatedly delayed for numerous reasons but particularly due to problems in the voter registration process.

By African standards, the voter-registration process in Somaliland was one of the most advanced in the continent.

It included a biometric system with a database registering fingerprints, photographs and personal details.

But after the October 2008 bombing by Al Shabaab, the foreign staff in charge of running the computer equipment for the registration pulled out, severely delaying the registration process.

But though the truce has cool political temperatures, the main worry is whether it will hold for long given the high tensions that were brought about by the election fever and accusations of planned malpractices.

According to observers The EastAfrican spoke to, the situation in Somaliland remains fluid.

But one thing that stands out is that the hitherto suppressed media has played a key role by continuously putting politicians under pressure to put the survival of the country before their own political survival.


Somalia: Two Somaliland election commission members resign

HARGEISA, Somalia Oct 4 (Garowe Online) - Two members of an election commission in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have resigned from their posts, days after the government and opposition parties inked an agreement ending a months-long political feud, Radio Garowe reports.

The two officials – Mr. Ismail Muse Nur and Mr. Khadar Mohamed Guled – held a press conference in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

The former members of Somaliland's seven-seat election commission said they had decided to resign from their posts "to help facilitate" the agreement signed between President Dahir Riyale and opposition party leaders, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo and Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe.

Further, the resigned officials told the press conference that they wish "to give an opportunity" to Somaliland intellectuals to take part in the political process.

A months-long political dispute that arose over delayed presidential elections since 2008 ended last Wednesday after a deal was signed in the presence of international observers from the United Kingdom and Ethiopia.

The six-point agreement included a clause calling for changes to be made to the election commission, as demanded by opposition parties.


Somaliland: Shaky Peace After Parliamentary Fist Fight

Matt Brown, Foreign Correspondent, The National, Abu Dhabi Media Company PJSC. October 3, 2009

HARGEISA, Somaliland - The speaker of Somaliland’s parliament was happy after the session on September 26. No one punched each other during the assembly. No one pulled a gun. No one even argued. The parliament chamber here was quiet at the beginning of the week. MPs milled around outside the shabby assembly hall with its faded white walls, powder-blue curtains and odd, incongruous fireplace in one corner. The politicians began a legislative week that brought this aspiring state away from the brink of a political crisis.

On September 8, a heated debate between MPs turned into a bout of fisticuffs, with rival politicians punching each other. One MP reportedly drew a handgun, but no shots were fired. The president ordered the police to move in and they cleared out the parliament chamber and locked the MPs out of the building.

“Before yesterday, the situation was very tense,” Abdirahman Abdillahi, the speaker of parliament, said in an interview on September 26. “Now everyone is relaxed.” Somaliland, the north-western region of Somalia, is inherently different from the rest of the country that has perpetually been at war for the last 20 years. The region declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but has since struggled to gain international recognition despite having a stable government and functioning institutions.

Leaders here say last week’s political brawl was just a fledgling nation taking its newfound democracy for a test drive. But it could have dire consequences as Somaliland tries to convince the world that it is the torchbearer of stability in the Horn of Africa.

“Sometimes two brothers fight, but at the end of the day, they are friends,” said Abdilaziz Samaleh, an MP. “We are glad we have opposition parties that can demonstrate an opinion. We think we are a good example for our neighbours in Africa.”

The dust-up in parliament was over a measure to impeach the president, who has repeatedly postponed the presidential election and has extended his mandate for more than a year. The latest attempt at an election was supposed to take place on September 27, but was put off for at least three months because of an inaccurate voter registration database.

Parliament last week tabled the motion to impeach the president and the council of elders, the upper house, voted to allow international election experts to fix the voter list, and the crisis was averted, for now.

Dahir Riyale Kahin, the president, and his United People’s Democratic party, are battling two vibrant opposition parties in the upcoming election, which experts say will now take place in January at the earliest. Mr Riyale, who is seeking a second five-year term, has been praised for bringing security to the country amid a troubled region. But critics say the leader of Somaliland, a potential oil producer, is corrupt and unlawfully clinging to power.

“I have done a lot of things for this country,” Mr. Riyale said in an interview with The National at his presidential mansion in Hargeisa, the capital. “I have brought all Somalilanders together. I want to leave a legacy for this country.”

The stiffest opposition to Mr Riyale comes from Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud, known as Silaanyo, a 72-year-old former Somaliland resistance fighter and leader of the Development and Solidarity party. He said that the president’s failure to lead the country to recognised independence should not be rewarded with another term.

“He has already failed,” Mr Mahamoud said. “Why should he be able to do it again? “He has already lost the confidence of the people.”

Somaliland has been able to avoid the fractious inter-clan fighting that plagues the rest of Somalia. Al Shabab, a radical Islamist movement with ties to al Qa’eda that has waged a bitter war in southern Somalia for the last two years, has been largely shut out of Somaliland by security forces here.

But there are signs that Somaliland’s political instability could open a door for the insurgents. “Any kind of disarray is going to give them an opportunity to exploit the situation,” Mr Mahamoud said. “We hope that does not happen here.”

Last year, suicide bombers in Hargeisa simultaneously attacked a United Nations building, an Ethiopian government building and the presidential compound. Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 25 and narrowly missed killing the president.

Three weeks ago, Sheik Muktar Abu Zubayr, the spiritual leader of al Shabab, threatened Somaliland, calling the brand of democracy it practices un-Islamic and demanding implementation of Islamic law. Politicians and analysts admit that there are underground al Shabab sympathisers in Somaliland.

“Definitely there are underground cells in Somaliland,” a Somalilander author of a book on al Shabab said on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals. “You will never know who they are because they blend in.”

As politicians fought it out in parliament last week, a violent protest erupted on the dusty streets of Hargeisa over the delayed election. Rioters clashed with security forces and torched a car. Three people died and a dozen were injured during the battle. Politicians said it was the work of hotheaded political activists, but analysts said Islamist extremists paid disenfranchised young men to create the upheaval.

A week later, it was back to business as usual in Hargeisa. Men talked and drank strong dark tea in the shade of trees. Women sold khat, a leafy stimulant, from roadside kiosks. Donkeys pulled carts loaded with tanks of drinking water. Money changers traded sacks full of nearly worthless Somaliland shillings for a few dollars.

Despite the recent unrest, both on the streets and in parliament, Somalilanders pride themselves on being able to work out their problems through dialogue, unlike their trigger-happy brothers to the south.

On a recent hot day in central Hargeisa, Aden Ahmed, a veteran of Somaliland’s last war more than two decades ago, chatted with friends in the shadow of a fighter jet mounted on a pedestal – a monument to Somalia’s civil war. “We settle our problems around the table,” he said, “not on the battlefield.”


Somaliland Voter Registration: Mismanagement and Political Disagreement…..!!

Michael Walls, October 2, 2009, http://harowo.com/

Voter registration nevertheless proceeded, although it was disrupted early on by the three suicide bombings carried out in Hargeisa on 29 October 2008, and was also marred by astonishingly widespread fraud and mismanagement. 1.3 million registrations were collected throughout the country, each of which was meant to be validated through a fingerprint system (Automated Fingerprint Identification System or AFIS). However, registration centres permitted fully 53.5% of those registering to do so without provision of a readable fingerprint. The system was also intended to produce a photo identification card for every registered voter, but large numbers of registrants were permitted to hold photos in front of the camera rather than presenting themselves for the purpose.

While it is not possible to comment in detail on the many motivations of the individuals taking part in such activities, it is fair to note that they were driven in large part by the politicised sense of clan which permits the exploitation of kinship affiliation for party-political gain, and vice versa. In other words, clan and party affiliation have become intricately interlinked, and the behaviour of registrants can be seen as a collective effort to gain advantage for each simultaneously.

The Somaliland socio-political system has long been based on an assumed weighting of clan numbers, which is translated into formulae that determine effective influence in deliberative processes. Those formulae are ostensibly reflective of relative clan populations. However, in the absence of any widespread population count since the mid-1970s, alternative traditions have been employed, including formulae utilised in the colonial era, and reversion to kinship traditions that are based on the number of sons of Sheikh Isahaaq, from whom all the Isaaq clans who dominate Somaliland trace descent. Consequently, the voter registration process was always going to introduce significant political sensitivities as it was readily apparent that, whatever the result, it would challenge prior assumptions of relative clan power.

Whatever the reasons for such widespread fraud, the result, inevitably, was a debased process which then required far more extensive processing than had been planned. At the time and since, the NEC has been widely criticised by many, both within Somaliland and outside, for displaying a low level of competence in discharging their responsibilities in the voter registration process, and more generally in preparation for an election. Although the NEC was responsible for managing the registration process ‘on the ground’, they blamed their INGO partner, Interpeace, for the problems that had arisen, entering into an increasingly vitriolic campaign and alienating not only the very partner with the capacity to help them run a successful election, but also others within and outside Somaliland.

In spite of this deteriorating relationship, international donors accepted financial responsibility for the introduction of an additional validity check based on facial recognition software. They believed this would be sufficient to generate a workable database of voters from what would otherwise have been so corruptedas to be worthless. This additional technical filter required the purchase of new software and the appointment of a new team with experience in this more sophisticated identification system, both tasks being completed with relatively little delay and at donor expense.

"Nin Dhalin Yar Ah oo Qaatay In Ka Badan 30 Kaadh oo uu Doonayey Inuu 3o Jeer Ku Codheeyo".

With the voter registration still subject to fundamental disagreement between the political parties, the NEC and their international partner, it was becoming increasingly clear that the 29 March 2009 polling date would also be impossible to meet, and finally, a matter of days beforehand, the President approached the Guurti suggesting a new election date of 31 May. With no constitutional right to grant himself an extension of term, he instead asked the Guurti ‘to find a way’ to resolve the problem that this new date posed, given that his term then expired on 6 April 2009.

Kulmiye refused to accept the 31 May election date, although UCID, the second opposition party, did accept it.

The NEC also declared that they would prepare for an election on that date. However, donors had already made it clear that the agreement of all parties would be required before a date could be considered final. Meanwhile some Guurti members were rumoured to have prepared a letter arguing that a delay of five or six months would be needed in order to ensure that preparations were complete before the election.

In many ways, Kulmiye’s refusal, while understandable in legalistic terms, represented a lost opportunity, as the 31 May date seemed both then and in hindsight to offer the best opportunity for an Somaliland election with sufficient time for organisation and political engagement.

However, the Kulmiye leadership had recently struck a deal with the influential Guurti Chairman, and were gambling on defeating any resolution for a further extension.

Against this backdrop, the Guurti met on 28 March 2009 to decide whether an extension of six months would be granted. Kulmiye had already pushed through legislation in the House of Representatives that envisaged the installation of a ‘caretaker’ administration should the President’s term expire without a valid election. Reflecting this new political reality, the debate was more evenly divided than had been the case prior to the April Guurti vote.

However, after three highly contested recounts the extension of the presidential term was granted until 29 October 2009. The NEC duly declared that the election would be held on 27 September, in spite of the fact that that date fell a few days after the end of Ramadan, making campaigning difficult. Kulmiye had failed narrowly to achieve their political objective, and were left with no alternative plan.

Michael Walls is one of three coordinators of the international election observation for the Somaliland presidential election, Chair of Somaliland Focus (UK) and the Anglo-Somali Society, and a lecturer at the Development Planning Unit of UCL.


Somalilanders Agree On Way Forward To Presidential Elections

Source: United Nations Political Office for Somalia and Somaliland, Date: 02 Oct 2009.PRESS RELEASE 027/2009

Nairobi, The UN Special Representative for Somalia and Somaliland, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has congratulated Somaliland officials on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the way forward to holding presidential elections which had been previously postponed.

"Let me congratulate the Somaliland political parties on this courageous step towards a peaceful and successful outcome to the impasse that had characterized their political life of late," he said.

"I wish to reiterate that the signing of the Memorandum is but a step in the right direction, which should lead to the holding of a free, fair and peaceful plebiscite, and that a lasting and durable solution lies with the parties themselves through peaceful means."

"This MOU is a testament to the Somalilanders' tradition of resolving internal conflict peacefully as well as a credit to the public officials who understand their role as civil servants.

"The example set by the Somaliland parties should serve as a major encouragement to all Somalis that only through dialogue, compromise and tolerance, can a win-win situation be achieved. Violence will never achieve what peaceful dialogue can.

"I would also like to pay tribute to the invaluable mediation role played by the international community, and encourage it to continue its support for the people of Somaliland as they continue on their path to peace and reconciliation and peaceful elections."


Top UN envoy welcomes agreement on presidential polls in Somaliland

Source: UN News Centre, October 02, 2009

The top United Nations envoy to Somalia today congratulated officials in the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland in the Horn of Africa nation for striking an agreement to end a stalemate on delayed presidential elections.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, hailed the parties for taking a “courageous step towards a peaceful and successful outcome to the impasse that had characterized their political life of late.”

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by officials, he said, is a “step in the right direction” which should result in a free and fair plebiscite.

The agreement is a “testament to the Somalilanders’ tradition of resolving internal conflict peacefully as well as a credit to the public officials who understand their role as civil servants,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted.

It should also encourage all Somalis to achieve peace through dialogue, compromise and tolerance, he stressed.

“Violence will never achieve what peaceful dialogue can.”


The Somaliland Independent Scholar’s Group. Political Brinkmanship: A Close Call for Somaliland

(29 September, 2009. Hargeisa Somaliland)

I. Introduction

On 26th of September 2009, the ISG members met to discuss the implications of recent Agreement sponsored by the international community between the Somaliland parties and the subsequent historic unanimous vote of the House of Elders on the 25th of Sept, 2009, to endorse it. The meeting was sponsored by the Social Research and Development Institute (SORADI). It was moderated by its Director, Dr. Mohamed Fadal. The Somaliland Independent Scholar’s Group (ISG) members are all long-term participants of Somaliland rebuilding and democratization process, who are considered to be highly competent to provide an objective analysis and strategy to address the issues at hand. The ISG members are: Abdi-shakur Sh Ali-Jowhar (Psychiatrist and political analyst: warkamaanta.com), Amina Mohamoud Warsame (Executive Director of NAGAAD); Abdilkadir H Ismail Jirde (Ex-Deputy Speaker and Member of Parliament- now travelling), Shukri H. Ismail (Former National Electoral Commissioner and Member of African Democracy Forum and Chair of Candle Light); Ibrahim Jama Ali -Raite (Member of Parliament and Lawyer), Fawsi Sh. Yonis (Somaliland Lawyer’s Association); Abdi Ahmed Nour (Forum for Peace and Governance-FOBAG), Bobe Y. Duale (Research Coordinator, APD), Haroon H Ahmed Qulumbe (ActionAid), Jafar Mohamed Gadaweyne (SONSAF); Mohamed Hassan Ibrahim (Researcher-APD), Suad Ibrahim Abdi (Researcher-APD); Wais Muse (Executive Director of Samatalis Coalition of Human Rights)), Dr. Mohamed Fadal, Director of (SORADI);Muse Abdi Elmi (U. of Hargeisa; Dean Academic Affairs) Dr. Yusuf Kariye (Researcher in Anthropology; Hinda Mohamed Jama (an Associate of Burao University).

Implementing the Agreement

II. Tension Diffused

The people of Somaliland won in this critical moment of the development of their nation. Through their steadfast stand to support reform peace and reconciliation they have brought about the victory we see today.

The Somaliland Independent Scholar’s Group commends the Guurti for choosing the path of dialogue and consensus building against a unilateral imposition. We thank Ethiopia, Britain and the supporting donor community to bring the political party leaders to a consensus agreement. We also thank the Somali well-wishers, who expressed their support to Somaliland from all over the world.

The tension has been diffused and the expression “win-win” situation is already in the media. However, the hard work is still to be done. The greatest achievement so far is that goodwill and cooperation between the opposition and the ruling party has been restored. A window of opportunity is opened; however, it may close sooner than we realize if not utilized. The ISG urges the Guurti to continue leading the process to put the implementation of the agreement on track. The ISG believes that the key to successful implementation of the international agreement is to disband the present NEC and to constitute a new National Electoral Commission (NEC) within the next two weeks.

III. Gateway to Implementation: Constituting a New NEC

After the necessary signature ceremony takes place, the Guurti needs to bring together the key stakeholders (the three political parties and the House of Representatives) in consultation with the civil society to work out a mechanism to disband the sitting NEC and to constitute a fresh new NEC. Institutions mandated to select the NEC members, ie the Presidency, the Guurti and the two opposition parties should not take more than seven days each to appoint their allocation of the members. Our target date for the NEW NEC to be in place is on the 15th of October, 2009.

Why a new NEC?

The New NEC should be able to fulfil the duties it is appointed for effectively and diligently on behalf of the Somaliland people. During the tenure of the present NEC, the whole nation was trying to do its job and to cover its shortcomings: They were expected to organize and manage free and fair elections held on time in every five years; create a neutral ground for all stakeholders in the election, especially among the three competing candidates and their supporters; interact with the Executive Branch as an independent entity and provide it with objective and truthful information and assessments of election process; engage the media and other stakeholders to abide by their code of conducts; work with our international friends and donors and to make elections something the Somaliland people can be proud of to exercise their right to vote and not to view it as a source of conflict and uncertainty. The sitting NEC has failed in fulfilling the above responsibilities.

What kind of NEC?

A NEC, whose members have integrity, proven work track record, across-party trust and a good national standing. The new NEC should also be gender balanced. The above criteria need to be observed by the institutions mandated to select the members and the House of Representatives, which has the final approval of individual membership.

Possible Scenarios Arising from the Implementation Process

1. Win-Win Situation: The New NEC is Constituted on Time

All parties cooperate to use this window of opportunity to bring the Somaliland Presidential election process on track. The New NEC, with the requisite qualities to manage and to lead us to a successful free and fair election is constituted within the next two weeks. It approves the Terms of Reference of the Team of Experts and the international community recruits them. They deliver their assessment of the election preparation time before the end of October, 2009. The New NEC sets a date for the Presidential election on the basis of the assessment provided by the Team of Experts. The President and VP terms are formally extended as in the agreement. The technical support needed for the election (both technical and financial) is made available by the donor community. The political parties’ candidates exercise their right to campaign and to bring their message across to the Somaliland people. The people exercise their right to vote and choose a President and a VP. The elected President is inaugurated by February 2010. Somalilanders prove their resilience to maintain the path of peace and democracy and to pursue their aspiration to achieve their rightful place in the world community.

2. Our Worse Nightmare Situation: NEC Reform is Squandered

We do not learn from our past experience. We do not use the window of opportunity we have. Personal and group interests overshadow cross-party cooperation and due diligence to reform NEC. Our worst nightmare is realized when forming the new NEC drags. Lack of cooperation and mistrust among the key stakeholders overshadows reason and progress. The Team of Experts has no counterpart to work with and hence, their recruitment and engagement is delayed. No election schedule assessment and election date are in sight within the next two months. The bad guys regain the upper hand in the Somaliland election process.

3. A Catalyst Situation: Conflicting Expectations from the Server

Unrealistic expectations from the team of experts to work out miracles to come up with everybody’s wish list will definitely spoil the cooperation and goodwill we need in abundance to bring the election process on track. On the other hand acting maturely and accepting whatever the outcome of this last trial to clean up the mess we made, will pave the way for the election and will boost the moral of the Somaliland people and their confidence on their system of government. The team of experts may not change much in terms of numbers, but they are independent from and neutral to our fears and internal contradictions. We have no other option but to trust the process. Their first final verdict should be accepted as is, if we want to move forward. We expect the team to be cognisant of the baggage that comes with their assignment and hence should keep it strictly technical and deliver their result transparently and in the presence of the all stakeholders and the international community. We advise against any interim reports and we urge the key stakeholders to let them deliver a Final Voter Registration List.

4. An Unfortunate Situation: Engaging Team of Experts or Delivery of their Assessment and Final Voter List Takes Longer than Expected

Such a situation will have a similar impact as the worse nightmare scenario. The window of goodwill opportunity will be closed. Personal and group interest will derail the election process. Worse still no National institution will be accountable for the Somaliland people. Fears of some sectors that the international community have no good intentions for the Somaliland state will get credence. The international initiators of this agreement need to do everything possible to avoid such a situation to arise and to be transparent about any difficulties encountered.

Summary of Recommendations and Action Sequence Chart

1. Recommendation

1. The House of Elders continues to lead the process to ensure signing ceremony takes place as soon as possible and that political parties and the House of Representatives are clearly on board to keep the Agreement on track.

2. All stakeholders act proactively to move the election process forward and to avoid any action which contradicts the cooperation and goodwill attained and expected by the Somaliland people.

3. The key stakeholders expedite the process of constituting a new NEC and hence facilitate the Team of Experts to start its work.

4. The international community need to stand behind this agreement and monitor all stakeholders to fulfil their roles. The international community is also is expected to make the Team of Experts available in time to work with the new NEC.

5. The International community is requested to make available the financial and technical support needed for the forthcoming Somaliland Presidential election.

6. The people need to be informed to ensure peace and have confidence that the election is going to be free and fair.


In Brief: Capitalize on rains, Somaliland urged

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN. After a long period of drought, meteorologists in Somaliland are predicting the region is likely to receive substantial rain between October and December. Farmers and pastoralists have been urged to make full use of the rains - file photo

HARGEISA, 30 September 2009 (IRIN) - After predictions by meteorologists that the region was likely to receive substantial rain between October and December, officials in Somalia's secessionist region of Somaliland have urged farmers and pastoralists to prepare to make maximum use of the rains.

The meteorological department has forecast that most of Somaliland will experience "near normal" to "above normal" rains in the coming Deyr (short rains) season.

"The oncoming rains will come as a relief and an indication of an end to drought in the affected areas," according to a climate outlook report by Somalia's Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM). "The expected rainfall, with timely onset over most agricultural areas of the country, would be adequate for good crop performance. Farmers can also expect an extended length of the growing period."

Ahmed Qofal Jama, the Adadlay district representative of the ministry of agriculture, said: "Whenever heavy rains are received in southeast Asia and India, the rains cross the Indian Ocean to the Horn of Africa and we therefore expect good rains, which are handy after the poor performance of the last several rainy seasons that caused serious livelihood crises to both pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. We are encouraging farmers to make full use of the expected rains."


Somaliland Political Parties Sign Agreement to End Political Deadlock

Hargeisa, 1 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somaliland’s President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the leaders of the two opposition parties signed a Six Point Agreement with the presence of John Marshal from Great Britain and an Ethiopian delegate. By signing this agreement this should ease the tensions that has been rising in Somaliland in the last few weeks.

The agreement puts constraint on the current administration that it shall not ask for an extension in office, that election observers be allowed to return to Somaliland to finalize the voter registration and election be held once the voter registration is completed by the experts.

Also present at the signing as observers were the heads of the parliament and house of elders Mr. Abdirahman Irro and Suleiman Aden. Mr. Suleiman played a major role in bring all parties together to sign this agreement.

“I was hopping that we could have resolved this issue on our own rather than getting foreigners’ involved in our affairs”. Said President Rayaale during the event. He also gave an acknowledgment to all the people that made this agreement to be signed.

The leader of KULMIYE party, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Siilaanyo) said he is happy that an agreement has been finally reached. He called the government to release those who were arrested during the last demonstrations in Hargeisa.

The Leader of UCID party, Eng. Faisal Ali Warabe thanked all the participants and those who participated in bringing all the sides together.

The sigining of this agreement is a historic achievement for Somaliland as chaos has been feared in the last few months due to the political crisis in the country. The international community have been engaged in this agreement for the first time in Somaliland’s history. In the coming months, Somaliland will enter a new phase where people will follow closely the implementation of those agreement points.


Somalia: Somaliland rivals sign agreement to end election crisis

HARGEISA, Somalia Sep 30 (Garowe Online) - Political rivals in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland have signed an agreement to end the region's months-long election crisis, Radio Garowe reports.

The six-point agreement was signed on Thursday by Somaliland President Dahir Riyale, on behalf of the ruling UDUB party, and Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo and Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe, on behalf of Kulmiye and UCID opposition parties, respectively.

A signing ceremony was held at the State House in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, the UK's Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. John Marshal, and the Ethiopian Trade Representative in Somaliland, Mr. Damise Wabishet.

Further, the leaders of Somaliland's two houses of parliament, House of Representatives Speaker Abdirahman Mohamed "Irro" and House of Guurti Chairman Saleban "Gal" Mohamud, were present at the signing ceremony as observers.

The six-point agreement includes a clause prohibiting the Riyale administration from "a term extension without consulting" opposition parties. Another clause calls for international experts to be sent to Hargeisa to complete the computerized voter-registration system.

The presidential election, scheduled for September 29 but cancelled, will be held exactly one month after the international experts say they can complete the voter-registration system, according to the new agreement.

A clause that strengthens the opposition's political cards calls for the Somaliland election commission to be replaced. It was the election commission, pressured by the Riyale administration, that cancelled September's presidential election, thereafter deepening the political crisis and sparking deadly riots in Hargeisa.

It is the first time foreign diplomats have mediated among Somaliland's political rivals, with Amb. Marshal signing as a witness on behalf of the international community.

President Riyale, who was elected in 2003, has managed to stay in power by two term-extensions approved by the House of Guurti. His closest challenger, Mr. Silanyo, lost the 2003 presidential election to Riyale with less than 90 votes.


Public-private partnerships bring sustainable, safe water to Somali communities

By Iman Morooka, Source: UNICEF, Sept 28, 2009.

In Berbera, north-west Somalia, Amina Farah works as caretaker of the water kiosk at the Jamalaaye settlement for the displaced.

BERBERA, Somalia, 28 September 2009 – Until recently, a run-down urban water system dating from the 19th century delivered scant, low-quality water to the residents of Berbera, a coastal town in north-west Somalia. But that has changed recently.

VIDEO: Watch now

In Somalia as a whole, only 29 per cent of the population has access to safe water, due to the lack of adequate water supply facilities and systems. Children under the age of five bear the brunt of the water-borne diseases that result from this situation.

Water system repaired

To address the problem in Berbera, UNICEF – with funding from the European Union – supported the rehabilitation and expansion of the existing water system. The project included the cleaning and protection of the town’s Dubar Springs water source and boreholes. The collection wells and main collection chamber for Berbera were also repaired to guard against contamination.

The manager of the Water Authority in Berbera, Abderahman Artan, says the old pipes were cracked, and some were completely blocked.

“One third of water from Dubar Springs nearly didn’t reach the town, causing scarcity of water,” he notes. “But since the replacement of old pipes, water runs smoothly to the town, and I’ve never had to change a pipe.”

Aid for the displaced

Through the construction of three new water kiosks in Jamalaaye, a settlement area for the displaced population living in Berbera, these residents also have benefitted from the project. Previously, many children and women in the area were unable to get to school or to market in the mornings because they had to spend hours searching for safe water.

“We extended a 3.5 km pipeline to the eastern part of the town, where there was shortage of water in the [displaced persons] settlements,” said UNICEF Somalia Water and Sanitation Officer Osman Ahmed. “One purpose of this project was to avail water for those marginalized [families] who couldn’t reach water points.”

The water kiosks are run by community residents such as Amina Farah, a mother of four who has been living in the Jamalaaye settlement for four years. Serving as a kiosk caretaker, Ms. Farah sells water and ensures that the facility is used properly. Of the 300 shillings that she collects in exchange for each 20 litres of water, 250 shillings goes to the Water Authority for managing the system, while she keeps the rest.

“Although this income is not much, it helps me buy food and other necessary items for my family,” said Ms. Farah. “Before having this kiosk, we used to spend a lot of time in search of water, and my children got tired and thirsty while waiting for me. Whether it was me or my husband who fetched water, we had problems. But not anymore, thanks to the water that was brought to us.”

Innovative partnership

The newly rehabilitated water system is managed under the public-private partnership approach, which involves the community, the Water Authority and the private sector in ensuring sustainable service delivery. The water board, which was established specifically for this project, represents the various stakeholders and helps monitor and improve the water management system.

© UNICEF video. A young girl in the Jamalaaye settlement for the displaced population in Berbera, north-west Somalia.

UNICEF and the European Union introduced this approach in Somalia in 1997. Since then, several other key donors have come on board to support similar projects. Today, 10 such projects being implemented to bring safe water to Somali communities across the country.

“Our partnership with UNICEF has been very constructive and innovative, in the sense that it has been working by mixing the private and public interests into the water sector,” says European Union Special Envoy to Somalia Georges-Marc Andre.

“The European Union has been supporting water projects in Somalia since 1995, investing a total of €20 million, and helped improve the situation of more than 1 million people in the country,” he adds. “I look forward to continued collaboration with UNICEF.”


Somaliland’s Stability Or Otherwise : The Consensus Factor

Abdillahi Aden Hassan

“Money can not buy everything”.

http://www.jamhuuriya.info/index.php, 28 Sep 2009. The divorce to the union between the North, and the South of Somalia then did create some bizarre aftermaths, the most notable of which was planting landmines across the land, the objective of which was to restrict peoples’ movements, and/or perhaps destroying them to the last.

The demolition, and the subsequent looting of the infrastructure by the dictator’s armies was also an unpleasant experience to be forgotten that easy; everything gone through was quite painful, and agonising.

The disintegration discussed initiated, and possibly made two distinct, but opposite parties possible; a hostile, and a peaceful environments.

The Communities in Somaliland did realise the importance of unity, and did hold a conference after another, making their dream of reclaiming independence a reality, after their tantalising heartbreak with the South, the one-man-show-phenomenon, for a very long time.

It is worth saying that the country is actually in a position to make development. And it is, in short, seeking everyone’s positive contributions for building that young nation whose objective is to achieve substantial development for its welfare, and for its well-being.

The problem that is apparent here exactly goes back to the different colonial powers that did colonise the two regions, and as said in the past time, and again, that the Italian’s part has had the edge, due to the later’s involvement in development issues, such as the Social Services as Education, Management, and the like. But one should bear in mind that the Northerners did constitute the first, and the second levels of manpower resources of the labour force, the actual one to reckon with, towards achieving progress, and substantial development.

It is said that ‘One reaps as one sows’, the connotations of which is that one gets what one cultivates. The point i am trying to put across is that the Southerners, who did make every effort to dismantle the Northerners, did find themselves in an ugly situation, a hostile environment in which agonisingly events do turn to become more sour, and more tense than it was in the past. The bottomline is hostility, and fighting against everybody there, and for everything including Religion, is the legacy inherited from the previous hatred, and power over the North. There is anarchy, and lawlessness in the South right now. I must pinpoint the fact women, children, and elderly, needless to say the innocent, are the sufferers in this precarious saga.

The international Community did attempt to resolve the problem, and the United States of America, under the umbrella of the United Nations, did take the lead. The Somalis, being very proud naturally, interpreted the mission differently, and did start warring campaign against them.

There did appear glimpses of hope that the invaders were taught hard lessons, at least, in the eyes of the natives. The idea of leaving the ‘wailers’ behind, best termed as the ‘students’ after the deceased, the ‘tutor’ has made its effect very vehemently. My point of argument is there was a regime that was around for quite a while, and getting rid off it that quick was like moving from the fire-to-the-firing-pan; it did need a very long process which was steady, and gradual.

It is, however, gone the time in which a tight-fisted rules a nation. The issue, in fact, was a thing of the past.

It is said that ‘Money can not buy everything’, the rationale behind it is that there are certain things like peace, children, health etc money can not buy.

The point I am making is that money can not buy ‘Peace’ in this particular context, and that it is very crucial you come to your senses, both of you, and realise the Blood Bond that is between yourselves, so long as you are maternal uncles to one another, nephews, nieces etc.

This world is moving towards globalisation process of uniting regions, and localities. And it is very important to get to grips with this very fact that is the reality, the heart of the matter.

I did deliberately raised the discussion to artistically make a ‘simile’, its connotations of which indicate that Somaliland is made of communities of which each, and everyone of them needs the companionship, and the courtesy of the other, as none is an island ‘socially’. And needless to say, our dignified existence, and development depend on our unity. Our togetherness undoubtedly makes a huge difference. The point i am emphasizing is let us all seriously, and honestly take part in the construction of our motherland, so that peace, stability, and prosperity flourish.

You are the subjects of your actions. You got to be very sensible in your own deeds. A son, and/or sons do die in a battle, but do not never ever born in it. We do pray for you, as our hearts are with you at all times. Any action taken by anybody else is temporary. You are the real people who can reach everlasting decisions. You must think positively, and consider everything in the light of this information. And we constantly pray to Allah The Most Able for you to guide you to the right path.

It was my fellow Gabiley citizens who did initiate the well asleep stuff, by ambushing the public transport vehicles, with their passengers abroad, by killing some of them. This is unbearable, as it is the twenty-first century. And, worse than this, it backlashes the country when pleblicising for independence. Please keep this very bad habit away for the sake of the country, and its people.

If I want to rule the country how would I behave? I will look after everything, and will probably leave it intact. This is in contrast in the oldest man view who does throw sheep glances at people, but deep down he is lethal.

I did know my maternal uncles next door are good people. But taken to their limits together with an old man crying for power at all times, and in the process attempts genocide-in-the-making, a crime the international court of justice does not want happen time, and again. The guy, however, wants to become well-to-do at the expense of the poor public. This hypocrisy he is in has caused him break his leg, and some of his fellows to pass away.

The best way forward is to think twice, and positively. You got to convince everybody, a friend, or a foe alike, that you are capable of managing yourselves unitedness, and togetherness. It is baseless to fight against each other. And it is not anywhere near going it in the first place. You should responsibly come to your senses, and obviously remain as families, as blood is thicker than water. This scene makes you a prey to any predator that wants to hunt you without any condition whatsoever. But once united, and become a major force certainly keep any outsider at bay, and send signals of smashing him/her to him/her.

The trend the World Regions are moving is Unity. And conversely, you are about to fight against each other. It is a high time that you consider all options, and probably come up with the peaceful solution that you, and your children prosper. And time is of the essence.


Somaliland: A New Way Forward Toward Peaceful Elections

HARGEISA, 28 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The Somaliland House of Elders recent endeavour to resolve the political stalemate regarding the forthcoming Presidential elections has met with some success.

After an all night session, 77 members of the House of Elders voted to extend the mandate of the incumbent President, Mr.Dahir Rayale Kahin until one month after the Presidential election date. The new election date will be set after consultation between all three political parties, subject to the resolution of the technical issues related to the voter registration program and its tools.

In a move welcomed by both opposition parties in Somaliland, as well as, the international community and donor nations, the Somaliland House of Elders once again returned to the winning formula of dialogue, discussion and consensus.

In a related matter, all three Somaliland political parties, UDUB, KULMIYE and UCID have agreed to a six point proposal put together by the International donors to Somaliland’s election process, including the USA, EU, Ethiopia and several other interested parties.

These six points are as follow;

1. Changes in the electoral commission should be made.
2. The election server should be re-instated and technical experts will come to Somaliland to fix the server´s problems.
3. The date of the election will be set by the commission and the technical experts and it is a technical matter.
4. To work together.
5. This election as well as future elections should be based on voter-registration.
6. The three political parties should issue a joint statement.

Once again, Somaliland has proved its democratic maturity in resolving issues that would have sunk and continue to plague other regions on the Horn of Africa.


A Four-Step Plan to Destroy Somaliland.

Ibrahim Hassan Gagale

HARGEISA, 27 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Many Somalilanders, living in the country and abroad, have been warning the nation for several years that president Riyaale is not committed to Somaliland cause for independence but he is a committed betrayer who is digging deep grave for Somaliland sovereignty and recognition to destroy it for Somalia. The sequence of the subversive, political developments in Somaliland undoubtedly prove that what has been warned of before has materialized. Dahir Riyaale is a national traitor whose dictatorship has nothing to do for power-love but for bringing down Somaliland. Dahir Riyaale, his supporters, and foreign conspirators, who are in the treason together, have been plotting against Somaliland independence since the beginning of his wrongful presidency in 2003 with the final objective of plunging Somaliland into civil wars to create a situation similar to that of Somalia where lawlessness and anarchy reign for 19 years. These anti-Somaliland groups believe that civil wars is the only weapon to kill the dreams of Somaliland people for independent Somaliland assuming that it would create a desperate situation that leaves Somaliland people no option or choice other than reuniting with Somalia unconditionally.

Dahir Riyaale, Ismael Gelleh, the dictator-at-dusk of Djibouti, and the changing leaders of the failed state of Somalia have been involved in a Destroy-Somaliland-plan for the last 7 years. This devised political conspiracy against Somaliland independence has four-step plan designed to succeed in bringing down Somaliland. To succeed in killing Somaliland independence, the order of this Four-Step Plan to Destroy Somaliland is set up as follows:-

1. Discarding and abandoning Somaliland constitution to create a subversive dictatorship in the country eliminating the powers of the judicial and legislative branches and blocking or disrupting their constitutional services with coercive police force.

2. Ruining and bankrupting Somaliland economy with massive corruptions and bribes to weaken national sustainability, survivability and viability so that the country can not stand on its own feet.

3. Undermining and secretly fighting Somaliland recognition during visits to foreign countries creating suspicion and hesitation in countries that would otherwise recognize Somaliland. The country would be recognized by now if not damaged.

4. Holding onto the power of the country blocking presidential elections with all costs and with limitless term extensions by bribed Guurti members until civil wars are created in the country that turn it into failed state where violence and anarchy reign so that Somaliland people live in despair that forces them to reunite with violent Somalia unconditionally. Riyaale`s deafening silence about Eil Bardaale armed clashes is a part of this conspiratorial plan.

It is clear now that the traitor, Dahir Riyaale, and his anti-Somaliland groups, with the help of worthless penny-chasers who do not care the people and the country, have succeeded in carrying out the first three steps of the Four-Step Plan to Destroy Somaliland and now they are actively involved in implementing the fourth step. Without the existence of this Four-Step Plan to Destroy Somaliland, Somaliland would never be in the current heart-breaking political situation. Because Dahir Riyaale is committed to bring down Somaliland, he has to reject all national and international calls to respect the constitution of the country and he has to purposefully breach all agreements intended to solve the political impasse. One should not or must not expect that Dahir Riyaale and cronies are willing to hold fair presidential elections in the country knowing what they have done to it.

The only solution to save Somaliland from total destruction is, as recommended by many, to immediately remove Daahir Riyale and his regime from power as soon as possible with an organized and prepared popular uprising (Kacdoon Qaran) led by the Opposition Parties and other opposition movements targeting the residences, offices, and barracks of clan-based presidential police of Dahir Riyale and his regime. Now it is time to choose liberating uprising over killing silence. It is the nationalistic, patriotic duty of the armed forces and police to support the national uprising for Somaliland salvation. After removing Dahir Riyaale from power, the Opposition Parties have to form an interim government of national consensus that restores Somaliland reputation around the world and that paves the way for democratic presidential and parliamentary elections in one year.

During this struggle for Somaliland cause, Somaliland politicians and writers should be careful of using statements like: “It is the end of Somaliland”, “It is the beginning of Somaliland destruction”, “It is over for Somaliland.” Somaliland is a country and a nation and will survive well the current unfavorable situation. This nation survived the atrocities of Siyad Barre`s Regime and will defeat the current treasonous regime headed by Dahir Riyaale, even if necessary with the sacred blood of its sons and daughters as done before. No nation disappears from the surface of the Earth but sometimes faces difficult time. These statements will only give political victory to the enemies of Somaliland and it is wise to stop. Long Live Somaliland!.


WHICH WAY OUT, SOMALILAND?

Ahmed Ali Ibrahim Sabeyse, September 25, 2009, http://www.longlivesomaliland.com/

Shame on our dysfunctional political system that has failed time and again to abide by the basic principles of mediation in time crisis. Yesterday our political parties and the government signed on to the proposal of the inte rnational community without any reservations; today, it is rendezvous with politics of the spleen-public incitement; mass demonstrations; and mob rule. Desperate leaders resort to desperate measures to create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion. May we remind the two opposition leaders that the votes of the capital region sustains their own political survival. The blood of the citizens is sacred; you can not have it both ways. In todays' call for the repetition of what transpired on September, 2009, the Chairmen of the two opposition parties will bear full responsib ility- be it loss of life or property. You creat the problem, you own the outcome. We can not have two governments operating in the country at the same time.

Look at our parliament. The house of deputies is converted into a rustling arena; periodic eviction notices puts the presidential mansion in serious dispute. Where is the demarcation between public and private property? Running for an elected office is not an automatic ticket to stake a claim on any piece of state property. The current occupant came through the ballot, whereas the claimant demands immediate payment of the overdue rent for the past sixteen months, or else.

THE LOT OF THE DISILLUSIONED POLITICIANS

If our pseudo-politicians are incapable of settling their differences at the negotiating table, then it is up to the traditional leaders to intercede, lis ten to both parties, and at the end prepare the best possible compromise under the circumstance. The role of thetraditional leaders has been part of our culture for centuries and it is highly appreciated. To question the fairness of these leaders is a disgraceful precedent. Setting preconditions and meaningless posturing via the media destroys the essence of the mediation effort and indicates that one party is bargaining in bad faith.

THE TICKING TIME BOMB

Are we hostages of election schizophrenia? The timing or rescheduling presidential elections ignites a sensitive detonator that sets off a series of shock waves intended to derail Somaliland for good. This time , however, the magnitude of the tremors is much higher and it triggered a set of closely intertwined domino effects. A serious power struggle in a simultaneous process of elimination by substitution. This chain reaction, if successful, will change forever the political landscape of Somaliland. First the Chairmen of the House of Representatives, with the tacit support and collaboration of the Chairman of House of Elders[Guurti], have attempted to pass an impeachment bill through the House of Representatives sets.

This sets the stage for the eventual removal of the President and the Vice-President based on the assumption that the opposition has the appropriate documentary le evidence that warrant the proceedings of a high treason case. Once this hurdle is cleared, the Chairman of theHouse of Elders parachutes to the presidency; the Chairman of the House of Representatives becomes the Vice-President; and the First Deputy-Chairman of the House of Representatives takes over the Chairmanship of the lower House.

THE AFTERMATH

This satisfies the oppositions' incessant cries for a Care-taker/Transitional/Coalition government. The support of the opposition parties is predicated on the agreement that in six month's time, fair and free presidential elections, based on the annulled results of the fraudulent voter registration, will take place. The era of re-scheduling election is gone for good. This is a very sweet deal and a win-win situation for all.

Are we heading towards self destruction? Toying with impeachment puts the nation on a virtual stand still. Although the political uncertainty associated with the process is daunting, the impeachment of the President and the Vice-President is incorporated in our Constitution. Those who deem it fit to exercise this option as a short-cut to the presidential mansion have every right to do so provided the proper legal procedures are followed.

THE SOURCE OF THE BICKERING

Unless we seriously re-evaluate our election laws, the endless tug of war between the government, the opposition parties and the National Elections Commission, the very existence of this nation will be in jeopardy. There is a perpetual struggle between survival and self preservation, on the one hand, and the life time dream of self-actualisation on the other. The Presidency is the embodiment of our collective national identity and a testament to our unity and cohesiveness. The current occupant came through the ballot box and the same thing applies to any aspirant. God forbid it! self-actualisation through human blood and violence is very distasteful.

However, the combatants pretend to be oblivious to the cumulative neg ative impact of their kamikaze politics on the very existence of Somaliland. Locally,mobilising and shutling bus loads of armed unemployed youth to the vicinity of parliament was a reckless attempt that should never happen again. The recent loss of life, the destruction of private and public property, as well as the looting that took place is the sole responsibility of Kulmiye party. The blood of Our major cities

RESPECT FOR LAW AND ORDER

The right to peaceful demonstration is guaranteed under our Constitution and it should be exercised within its legal limits. The encouragement of civil commotion does not constitute an exercise of any political freedom. To demonstrate peacefully, one needs to obtain the permission of the concerned authority with following stipulations:

The date and the time of the demonstration;
Duration and the specific location of the demonstration;
Peaceful dispersal of the participants within the proscribed time;
Written surety against any vandalising, looting, or sabotaging of any public or private property;
Police presence to maintain the law and order.

Once these minimum requirements are met, the government has no valid reason to withhold the necessary permission. However, the aggrieved party has every right to deliver his message through non-violent means within the prescribed limits of the law. Regardless of our consternation, loathing, or vilification of the conduct government in power, and irrespec tive of the issues under contention, reason and logic should prevail as long as the authority of such a government is constituted through legitimate means.

THE WAY OUT

This nation has been through numerous testing times; yet we have succe eded in resolving our differences through dialogue and not through confr o ntation. This has been a unique character of our society that has attracted the admiration of the international community. The ugly events of September 12, 2009 have put a damper on the credibility of Somaliland.

To conduct a fair and a free election, the results of the voter registration should be re-assessed properly so as to eliminate all the bogus registrants. The current voter list are completely unreliable and can not form the basis of a transparent election. The magnitude of the fraud rendered the utility of the information untenable.

However, if the donor nations are prepared to salvage the voter lists, a new independent party should be tasked to complete project with speci fic time lines to deliver the result.

Sooner or later, we have to deal the issue of the formation of political associations. The current three political parties should not monopolise the politics of the nation. The sooner we address this problem the better off we are in the long term. The current bickering should stop somewhere. We created the monster and we need to tame it once and for all.


Somaliland elders extend President Kahin's rule

Sep 25, 2009, By Hussein Ali Noor

HARGEISA (Reuters) - Clan elders in northern Somalia's breakaway enclave of Somaliland voted on Friday to extend President Dahir Riyale Kahin's term on condition that a voter list be finalised and a date set for a presidential election.

It was the third time since April 2008 that Somaliland's upper House of Elders has extended Kahin's term, which was due to expire on October 29. Opposition politicians in the lower House of Representatives have demanded the president be impeached.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the rest of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation descended into chaos in 1991. But repeated delays to the presidential poll have worried rights groups and donors, as well as angered the opposition.

Suleiman Mohamoud Aden, chairman of the House of Elders, called for a vote after an all-night discussion of what he called the "delicate situation" and potential power vacuum.

"We want you to vote for the extension of the president's term based on the completion of the voter list by the international technical committee and the fixing of the election date with the national electoral commission," Aden said.

All of the 77 other members then present voted to extend Kahin's term to last for one month after the ballot, whenever that might be. A poll set for July was put back to September 27, but the electoral commission postponed it again earlier this month.

The commission said it had ordered the latest delay because of rising concerns about whether a fair vote could be held in a political climate inflamed by disputes over the voter register.

Somaliland -- which has long sought international recognition as sovereign state -- is governed by the opposition-led House of Representatives, which is elected by the people, and an upper house comprised of senior clan elders.

Members of the lower house traded blows in the chamber and one politician pulled out a pistol earlier this month when the proposal to impeach Kahin came up for debate. The African Union says it is concerned and has appealed for calm.

On Wednesday, a senior minister in the Mogadishu government said southern Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents were also seeking to exploit the growing tensions in Somaliland.


Somalia: Somaliland parliament refuses term extension for president

HARGEISA, Somalia Sep 25 (Garowe Online) - The upper house of parliament in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland has refused to endorse another term extension for President Dahir Riyale, Radio Garowe reports.

The House of Guurti, the upper house of Somaliland's parliament, met in the capital Hargeisa on Friday and discussed two options to break the political deadlock over this month's cancelled presidential election.

Mr. Saleban "Gal" Mohamud, the Guurti chairman, told reporters afterwards that Guurti MPs voted to pressure President Riyale to enter into negotiations with opposition parties instead of endorsing a third term extension.

Opposition supporters who had gathered outside the parliament building expressed joy as the Guurti decision was announced.

Guurti MPs have voted to extend President Riyale's five-year term two times since the presidential election originally scheduled for May 2008. The Somaliland election commission, which delayed the presidential election scheduled for Sep. 29, has not formally announced a new date for the election.

It is the first time that Somaliland's upper house of parliament, which is modeled on the UK House of Lords, has rejected a term extension for the Somaliland president.

On Sep. 12, protestors clashed with Somaliland police in Hargeisa as the election crisis erupted into violent riots and underscored public resentment for President Riyale's machinations to delay the presidential election.


IFJ Concerned by Degradation of Freedom of Expression in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 24 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its concern over the continuous degradation of freedom of expression in Somaliland, following the publication of a new report by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, on the state of freedom of expression and cases of violations of media freedom in Somaliland.

”We are deeply concerned by what is happening in Somaliland, where journalists face enormous difficulties to do their job safely,” declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “We urge the Somaliland authorities to be more tolerant in their relationships with the media”.

The report, which is titled “Media Freedom Kept within Bounds”, unearths evidence-based information from journalists and media managers who recounted unrestrained and vituperative attacks on journalists and media houses.


SOMALIA: Drought conditions persist in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 24 September 2009 (IRIN) - Recent rains in eastern parts of secessionist Somaliland have done little to improve drought-affected pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods in the region, says a local official.

"[By] Allah’s mercy, rains were received in most of the region's districts, but the problem is that the people and the animals are still [affected]. I [still have] to send my relatives in the remote areas animal [feed] and food," Ahmed Aw Dahir, the mayor of Las’anod, in Sool region, told IRIN.

Aw Dahir estimated that about 400,000 people would still need assistance in the coming months due to the effect of the prolonged drought.

"The people in the region will need food assistance in the forthcoming months not only in the countryside, but even in the capital of Las’anod [where] about 20 percent of the population is suffering [a] lack of food," he said, adding that appeals for food have been made at mosques.

"The pastoralists used to sell milk to the urban centres; unfortunately the drought led to the deaths of most livestock," he added.

The low value of the remaining livestock, most of which are in poor physical condition, also meant residents could not afford to buy food.

According to an 8 September report by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit - Somalia (FSNAU), food has become increasingly scarce for the poor because of reduced livestock products (milk) and cereals, the lack of saleable animals and limited job opportunities.

"The pastoralists have no ability to buy foodstuffs in the interim period as we move from drought to the wet season. We are afraid of starvation," Bashir Ahmed Hayir, a resident of Hudun village in Sool, told IRIN.

Poor roads have aggravated the situation, said a local journalist. "People in the remote areas cannot receive food even if they can [afford to] buy it because the rains have closed [off] the roads," he told IRIN.

Almost all pastoral and agro-pastoralists in the northwest have less food, according to FSNAU. In Togdheer Agro-pastoral and Sool Plateau, the pastoralists are facing an acute food and livelihood crisis, with a high risk it could deteriorate into a humanitarian emergency before December.

The situation is similar in Hawd and Nugal Valley, while all agro-pastoral areas of Awdal and Galbeed regions, as well as Golis/Guban, are facing an acute crisis.

The situation is attributed to three consecutive rain failures, low to no calving and kidding and high livestock off-take. Agro-pastoral areas have also suffered crop failure.

According to FSNAU, very poor pastoralists in regions such as Sool, Togdheer, and Sanaag are moving to camps and other villages in search of help. Other coping mechanisms include household splitting, switching to cheaper cereals and skipping meals.


To Save Somaliland We Have A Duty To Start The Change Process Immediately

Amiin Dahir, Sep 26, 2009, http://www.golisnews.com/

Many of us, who are praying for change to happen in our motherland, are advised to start the change process wherever they are. Let's change for good. I will agree with early Cabdulahi Suldan timo Cade, when he poet in one of his advice (tribilesm is destruction) that if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. In the same way, Somalilands should first take a look at themselves and start the change. We have role models to copy or follow their ideas. If a small percentage of us start this change process wherever they are and be consistent, then there could be hope to revive Somaliland . We have to remember that we have a choice to either save Somaliland or sink Somaliland . To save Somaliland we have a duty to start the change process immediately. Every little positive effort will matter a lot. Failure to save Somaliland disastrous.

But I must caution people that, there will be no quick fix to Somaliland as problem. Changing the entire Somaliland system will be a difficult project; therefore we should be prepared for a tough project. Many of us will resist changes. Change itself is difficult. Many of Somalilands who are below 30 years have known no other system except the present day Somaliland system. Therefore changing more than half of the population will be tough and challenging. This is the more reason why any person that desires change should start changing his/her environment in any small way that is possible.

The grassroots will be a good starting point for changes. Change comes not from the top down but from the ground up. Management of people at the grassroots is very essential for any successful change. Revolutionaries all over the world have high sense of patriotism and have introduced positive changes to the lives of their people. Same should apply to Somalilands seeking to start quiet revolution or change. Henceforth it will be ideal for Somalilands to be thinking of individual/private sector led change of the Somaliland system. There are a lot of changes that the civil society can spearhead. Also changing Somaliland is burden for all of us, therefore the earlier we start changing our nation the better for all of us. May God bless Somaliland.

Democracy is not compatible with police or military dictatorship. In a democracy, the desire of the people is supreme, there is complete freedom of expression and there is no barrier of cast, creed, community, minority, majority, religion and language in a true democracy. Democracy is not possible without the full participation of every section of the people of the country where a village will be the basic unit. Hence a democratic person should work only for the reservation of the democracy instead of for the interest of his political party.

I don't think this crisis has created by one person or two but more than that. Yes,Riyaala, leadership and Udub is on top to take the responsibility of some of the problems but Electrol Commission have their share of creating this mess.


An Eye on Somaliland Political Standoff

by Abdirahman Farah, September 23, 2009, http://www.hiiraan.com/

The political standoff in the unrecognized de-facto republic of Somaliland, is a critical development that is worth an international close watch.

The current political standoff if well analyzed is not of a recent emergent, but have been gradually building up since the coming to power of the current ruling regime. It is unquestionably clear from the way the current regime has shattered the economic progress of this tiny entity. They simply imposed a stifling tax policy over the once vibrant free market. The intentional strategy eventually turned the once sprawling port of Berbera into a ghost port town.

In its relative peaceful years compared to the southern parts of the former Somali republic. Somaliland have initially been on a positive and fast transitional path, towards political and socio-economic development.

Many would ask why would an administration stifle its own economic well being. Well this can be well explained by an article written about Somaliland, by a visiting American pentagon official to Somaliland in April 2003. (and I' Quote some part) "It does not threaten its neighbors, except through competitive trade and market practices. The free trade environment in tiny Somaliland has indeed caused complaint by nearby statist entities of Ethiopia, Djibouti and to a lesser extent Eritrea http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/kwiatkowski2.html. This was shortly before the current regime came to power.

The incumbent executive head was by then a vice president .He came to power after a sudden death of the previous head of state in august, 2003. The once complaining neighboring statist state did not waste the opportunity of negotiating with this product of accident regime, embarking on a process of undermining Somaliland progress from within.

Executing the deal, for the past seven years the current regime have been busy on various well orchestrated strategies of slowly suffocating the principal Somaliland fundamental purpose , which is to attain international recognition as an independent sovereign state.

In doing for the past seven years, this the regime has been investing on creating a brutal police and intelligent forces, to forcefully silence the voices of democracy. A structural force reminiscent to the once notorious Somali red berets, and the National intelligence services (NSS) in which the current president and some of his close henchmen passed as decorated officers .This is evident from the recent police brutal force against non provoking peaceful demonstrators in the capital Hargeysa.

This regime ganged up with the current member of the sitting House of Elders under a quid pro quo terms, to unconstitutionally extending each other's terms. The House of elder took their extension in lump sum of four years in 2006, and with an irrelevant reference and use of the constitution, the elders have extended the president's term more than thrice. one took place in may 2008 http://www.somalil3andtimes.net/sl/2008/329/1.shtml another one just six months ago, http://www.somalilandglobe.com/342/guurti-move-jeopardizes-return-to-democracy-in-somaliland/ and one more is being formulated as we speak.

This time around the standoff has turned into such a convoluted power scramble with an injection of intricate wave of clannish undertones in the intent of fully deviating from the constitution basis ,and total disregard to all past agreements. The system is set to go around in a circle and is overshadowed with conceited tribal process .If finally things ends in such a turn, then the eighteen years toils of democratic growth would all be nothing but a waste. before coming to a conclusion, let me pose two simple questions to all that are for pro-presidential term extension.

1. What are the possibilities of elections ever happening if the incumbent regime is always assured of farther extensions?

2. Secondly the current regime have proven that it can easily deploy the law enforcement against its equal branch of government, after it brought to a halt parliamentary procession for days, and farther brutally suppressed peoples sentiments. In lieu of all this, what would restrain this loose and unchecked regime from using same tactics to disrupt or rig the unforeseen elections?

It seems that the whole project has now come to a moment of truth . To those that are genuine about Somaliland progress and success, the situation is between a rock and a hard place.

Genuine Somalilanders need to cautiously tread on this orchestrated trap with vigilant care. The opposition have the ability of putting a check on this conspiracies. Conditionally they momentarily put aside their party differences and power thirst. They need to concentrate on one common goal and cooperate with the genuine civil society, elders and not forgetting friends of Somaliland all over the globe.

All in all Somaliland must be saved from tyranny and collapse, which would eventually lead to an additional perpetual chaos in the region.


Chatham House Lecture, London: Somaliland Democracy Threatened

September 22, 2009. 30 September 2009

Participants: Michael Walls, Coordinator, International Election Observation Team, Somaliland Presidential Election; Chair, Somaliland Focus (UK); Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, UCL

Type: Research and other events

Somaliland currently faces a critical constitutional and political dilemma as the presidential elections, scheduled to take place on 27 September, have been postponed for the third time with no new date announced. The President’s and Vice-President’s already extended terms in office expire on 29 October, and there are no constitutional means for addressing the power vacuum which will be left in the absence of an election.

For a region which is one of the few secure and democratic territories in the Horn of Africa, the failure of Somaliland’s political system could result in instability, a more authoritarian governance system and contribute to the further deterioration of an already unstable part of the African continent.

Michael Walls will provide his analysis of the crisis and discuss why the Somali tradition of dialogue and consensus-building may be the only real avenue for resolution.

For more information please contact Tighisti Amare.

Source: www.chathamhouse.org.uk


Somaliland Parliament Approves Impeachment Motion

HARGEISA, 22 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somaliland Parliament had finally managed to hold its session today at around noon after it was delayed because of lack of the required number of the MPs for the session.

Upon the opening of the session MPs discussed the latest motion which calls the government’s impeachment. The Parliament finally approved the motion and said they will discuss the issue during tomorrow’s session.


In Brief: Somaliland "should heed Kenyan election lessons"

NAIROBI, 23 September 2009 (IRIN) - Stakeholders in Somaliland need to reach a consensus on the role the media can play before, during and after elections to avoid election violence, a report says.

The report, entitled The Role of the Media in the Upcoming Somaliland Elections: Lessons from Kenya, discusses potential scenarios and interventions in the run-up to Somaliland's elections and compares them with the post-election violence experienced in Kenya in 2008.

It is published by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford, Center for Global Communication Studies at University of Pennsylvania and Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research, London.

Both countries have polarized electorates with significant political and economic grievances, political parties accused of manipulating the system, weak institutions and politically influential media. "The challenge... is how the media can be harnessed for nation-building rather than partisan politics and violence," the report notes.

Somaliland's elections were planned for 27 September, but were postponed after violence broke out. The term of the current government ends on 29 October.


Somaliland: Police Arrest Suspects In Lasanod

Source: Somalilandpress, September 19, 2009. Two men were arrested in a mosque in Lasanod, the capital city of Sool region in Somaliland. Them men were wearing women’s clothes and praying in the women’s section in the main mosque in the town.

It is not known the reason why those men were hiding among women covering their bodies with Hijab. The police said the two men are being investigated by the security forces in the region.

This is the firs of its kind in the region and it was the main issue among the population in Lasanod.

In the other hand, the region’s security forces have been put in high alert after letters were found in some streets of Lasanod warning the Somaliland government and showing support to Alshabab militia based in Somalia.

The police in Lasanod increased their operations against criminals as many people were robbed off their mobile phones during the evenings. Police confirms to Somalilandpress that a number of robbers were arrested in the city over the last few days.


Concern at indefinite postponement of Somaliland presidential poll, say election observers

18 Sep 2009, http://www.progressio.org.uk/progressio/internal/98298/concern_at_indefinite_postponement_of_som/

As part of the UK-based team coordinating election observers for the much-delayed presidential elections in the internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland, Progressio today expresses its profound disappointment and concern at news that the poll will be postponed indefinitely.

Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK say in a joint statement: “We hoped that the [current political] situation in Somaliland could have been resolved to set Somaliland’s democratisation process back on track. Instead it has become worse. With the extended term of [the incumbent] President, Daahir Rayaale Kaahin, due to expire on 29 October and no constitutional protocol to deal with this unprecedented situation, we have real fears for the country’s democracy and stability.”

The statement continues: “We urge all stakeholders to come together to solve this impasse, to ensure that a process can be put in place for a legitimate poll, with as little delay as possible, but with genuine commitment from all players and a realistic approach to the time needed to ensure a smooth and proper political process.”

Somaliland’s National Electoral Commmitte (NEC) last week announced that the much-delayed poll will not go ahead as planned on 27 September. In recent days, violence has erupted on the streets of Hargeisa leading to the deaths of three Somaliland citizens and the arrest of a number of journalists.

Progressio’s Advocacy Coordinator for Africa, Dr Steve Kibble said: “Somaliland has a long history of dialogue and consensus-building and is often characterised as a beacon of democratisation in Africa. Somaliland’s leaders must now continue this tradition of mediatation and work to achieve a breakthrough.”

Leading Somaliland scholar, Professor Ioan M. Lewis said: “It would be desperately sad if violent incidents were allowed to mar Somaliland's unique reputation for democratic stability which so sharply differentiates it from Somalia.”

The UK-based team, along with FOPAG (Forum for Peace and Governance) in Somaliland, was invited to lead the election observation mission by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission in January. The team has been tasked with coordinating international election observers from four continents and preparing a report on the conduct of the campaign and poll following the vote. Support for the mission is being provided by the UK government.

This week leading authorities on Somaliland – including notable scholars and individual members of the election observation team – issued an open letter to President Daahir Rayaale Kaahin and opposition party leaders Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo and Faisal Ali Waraabe calling for a “speedy resolution” to the crisis.


"The United States, the West, and Africa should recognize Somaliland officially"

By Robert I. Rotberg, The Boston Globe, September 19, 2009

THIS WEEK’S US raid in Somalia that killed Al Qaeda operatives removed dangers to the United States and its allies, but did little to bring progress to one of the least governed places in the world.

Eliminating Saleh Ali Nabhan, the alleged mastermind behind the 2002 attacks on Israelis in Kenya and possibly the US embassy bombings in 1998, is salutary.Nabhan was a leader of Al-Shabab, a fundamentalist Islamist youth movement of Somalis, which runs a large swath of southern Somalia and has ties to Al Qaeda.

Although the attack could deter new anti-American escapades in Somalia and East Africa, it did nothing to weaken al-Shabab’s hegemony in southern Somalia. Nor did it strengthen Somalia’s nominal overall government led by the American-backed Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed in Mogadishu.

The United States has been backing his beleaguered government with large shipments of arms and has been attempting to deter Eritrean and Gulf Arab funding for al-Shabab. But the struggle for Somalia is much more than a military one. In much of central and southern Somalia there has been no central government, only clan and sub-clan based warlords, since 1993. Al-Shabab, like the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006 and 2007, offers security and plausible forms of Islamist-inspired harsh governance in critical sectors of the country. For ordinary Somalis, however much they chafe at the Islamist restrictions, at least al-Shabab provides some kind of stability.

Sheik Ahmed’s government offers little security and governance, and itself depends on protection from an African peacekeeping force of Ugandans and Burundians. Sheik Ahmed only controls parts of Mogadishu and a few smaller centers. If the African Union and the UN, backed by US funding, could supply thousands of additional peacekeepers, perhaps the Sheik Ahmed administration could weaken al-Shabab’s hold. But more troops are not likely anytime soon. Without them, the United States. will achieve little in Somalia until it can help win popular support and legitimacy for Sheik Ahmed - a tall and improbable order.

Diminishing Islamist and Al Qaeda franchise influence in Somalia will only come by growing the influence of secular, non-governmental (if Muslim) Somalis, by finding a way to restart a state school and health care system, and by assisting the drought-prone Somalis with their water (and agricultural and grazing) requirements.

In other countries, the United States would extend aid to a government and to NGOs. But Somalia does not work that way. The United States, operating from neighboring Kenya, will have to find clever ways to support new leadership initiatives - another tall order. To do so, it might have to break its connection to the weak current government. It certainly has to distance itself from Ethiopian aspirations in the region.

The Obama administration would do well to begin thinking about Somalia as a post-conflict arena, needing reconstruction and new incentives, rather than an Al Qaeda outpost run from Pakistan by Osama bin Laden. It is not such as outpost, even though a handful of persons like Saleh Nabhan will continue to agitate in or pass through the badlands of Somalia and work closely with al-Shabab.

One other bold diplomatic initiative would make a difference. To the north of the warlord- and al-Shabab-run zones of Somalia is Somaliland, which has run itself sensibly and mostly democratically since 1991. Its leadership is having problems, but for many years it delivered positive political goods to its citizens in a manner that has never occurred in the rest of Somalia. No nation recognizes Somaliland even though its neighbors do business there and the United States. has long kept an official eye on it.

The United States, the West, and Africa should recognize Somaliland officially. Doing so would provide an incentive for the rest of Somalia to begin moving toward good rather than bad governance. The Somaliland example provides a path that could now entice Somalis to forsake their battles in favor of a peaceful future.

Robert I. Rotberg directs the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Intrastate Conflict and is President of the World Peace Foundation. He edited “Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa


Profound concern at indefinite postponement of Somaliland presidential poll, say election observers

Progressio,(18 September 2009) the Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus (UK) express profound disappointment at the indefinite postponement of Somaliland’s long-overdue presidential election.

International development agency Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at UCL and Somaliland Focus (UK) today express our disappointment and concern at the recent Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC) announcement that Somaliland’s long-delayed presidential election has now been indefinitely postponed.

The three organisations, along with FOPAG (Forum for Peace and Governance) in Somaliland, were invited in January this year by the NEC to act as coordinators of the international observation mission for presidential elections in the internationally-unrecognised Republic of Somaliland. A unilateral announcement that elections would proceed followed by threats of an opposition boycott led to a deteriorating situation and the prospect of what would effectively have been a one-party poll on 27 September. This had already caused us to reconsider our plans for an observation mission, although we hoped that the situation could have been resolved to set Somaliland’s democratisation process back on track.

Instead, the situation has become worse. With the extended term of President Rayaale due to expire on 29 October (a signed agreement by all three political parties agreed that there would be no further extension) and no constitutional cover to deal with this unprecedented situation, we have real fears for democracy and stability in Somaliland. Since the announcement, there has been violence on the streets of Hargeisa, resulting in the deaths of three Somaliland citizens, injuries to others and leading to the arrest of journalists.

Somaliland has a long history of dialogue and consensus-building and has been characterised by many as a beacon of democratisation in Africa in contrast to the chaos in Somalia. We therefore urge that all stakeholders come together to solve this impasse, to ensure that a process can be put in place for a legitimate poll, with as little delay as possible, but with genuine commitment from all players and a realistic approach to the time needed to ensure a smooth and proper political process.

For further information, contact Progressio’s Media Officer Jo Barrett, on 07940 703911 or jo@progressio.org.uk


Administration Sees A “Threat” From The Leader Of The Upper House Of Somaliland

HARGEISA, Somaliland (The Somaliland Globe.17 September 2009) — The Riyale administration accused Suleiman M. Adam — the leader of the Guurti, the Upper House of Parliament — of planning to depose president Riyale. The Foreign Minister Abdillahi M. Duale, interviewed by Universal TV today, accused Suleiman M. Adam of planning to topple the government “illegally by creating a transitional government that would lead the country until an election is held”.

Mr. Adam joined a long list of adversaries that the administration accused of presenting a “threat”. Over the past two weeks the leader of the House of Parliament Mr. Abdirahman M Abdillahi (Cirro) has come under intense and constant criticism from the administration after the Parliament started inching towards debate on the impeachment of the President and the Vice-President which culminated in the president ordering the closure of the parliament building a week ago. The parliament was re-opened after serious public demonstrations protesting the president’s order that left two people dead and several others wounded.

The MPs who tabled the impeachment motion, among other reasons, base their action on the “contravention of the constitution” clause under article 95 of the constitution which permits impeachment of the president and vice-president.

Over the past two months the administration also hurled accusations against Western donor countries of interfering in Somaliland politics, even though much of the accusations was intended for domestic consumption. The harshest criticisms were reserved for Interpeace, the agency that was assisting Somaliland with democratization process, which the administration expelled from the country vowing never to allow it back.

President Riyale, whose 5-year elected term ended in May 2008, twice sought and got term-extensions by the Guurti in the face of strong objections from the Parliament and the opposition parties. The current term-extension ends in late October, one month after the September 27 election date which apparently is certain to be postponed yet again.

The Foreign Minister repeated an argument which the Riyale administration has been known to use since March that “only an elected president” can replace Riyale. A member of KULMIYE party who declined to be named, told Somaliland Globe “This assertion is preposterous. What Riyale is telling the people is ‘you have no choice except putting up with me as I try every possible excuse in the book to delay elections indefinitely. Heads I win, tails you lose’”.


Events: Somaliland Democracy Threatened

HARGEISA, 18 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Launch of a paper discussing Somaliland’s postponed presidential elections and constitutional crisis

Speaker: Michael Walls, Coordinator, international election observation team, Somaliland presidential election; Chair, Somaliland Focus (UK); Lecturer, Development Planning Unit, UCL

Somaliland currently faces a critical constitutional and political dilemma as the presidential elections, scheduled to take place on 27 September, have been postponed for the third time with no new date announced. The President’s and Vice-President’s already extended terms in office expire on 29 October, and there are no constitutional means for addressing the power vacuum which will be left in the absence of an election.

For a region which is one of the few secure and democratic territories in the Horn of Africa, the failure of Somaliland’s political system could result in instability, a more authoritarian governance system and contribute to the further deterioration of an already unstable part of the African continent.

Michael Walls will provide his analysis of the crisis and discuss why the Somali tradition of dialogue and consensus-building may be the only real avenue for resolution.

If you would like to come please register with Tighisti Amare tamare@chathamhouse. org.uk


Somaliland: Opposition Parties Welcome Mediation Efforts

Hiiraan Online, September 17, 2009

Hargeisa (HOL) - The two main opposition parties in Somaliland, UCID Party and Kulmiye Party, have issued a press release in which they welcome current mediation efforts to solve the political crisis in Somaliland.

In a joint press release issued last night in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, the leader of UCID Party Mr. Faysal Ali Waraabe and the leader of Kulmiye Party Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud (Siilaanyo) raised issues with regards to the fact that the term for office for the current President of Somaliland Mr. Riyale and his vice President is coming to an end. They called on the international community and the Friends of Somaliland to play a constructive role in the survival of democracy in Somaliland.

The press release in part said: “With an understanding of the difficult situation Somaliland is going through and the fact that the time for election in Somaliland has neared, and by law the President and his vice President have finished their time in office, we, the Parties of UCID and Kulmiye, welcome all efforts to settle the political dispute in the country whether such efforts are taking place inside the county or outside the country”

The press release continued to say: “The two Parties of UCID and Kulmiye call on all Somaliland people who are engaged in the peaceful settlement of the current political crisis in the country, the international community and friends of Somaliland, to double and hasten their effort to bring the current political crisis to a peaceful end”.


The damaging cost of the political violence in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 16 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – These two last weeks without doubt have been among the most difficult in Somaliland’s short political history. From absolutely nowhere and without any warning it appears as though what was a month ago a calm nation in the process of preparing for a delayed but democratic general election had turned into a violent, thug ruled state where even the Police and Honourable Members of Parliament were sucked in by the violence and turmoil taking place in the streets.

This bloody and shameful episode in Somaliland’s history has cost the lives of three demonstrators in Hargeysa, led to the brief closure of Parliament by the president as well as ruined the reputation of the now dishonourable Abdirahman Mohamed Jama (Xoog) who disgracefully pulled out a gun in the Parliamentary chamber whilst it was still in public session.

Even worst, this incident by the dishonourable Member has not only shamed his own political party but has also brought the entire Political system into disarray as it implies that where dialogue fails or is not useful as a means of achieving what parliamentarians seek, it is acceptable to bring a concealed weapon as an insurance policy to getting what one want through the legislative process. As a result of all of these events and the continually delayed general election, it is not hard to see why some supporter of and investors in Somaliland could be having second thoughts about the nation as whole for it appears to be losing its peaceful, friendly and forward looking direction.

The cost of the political violence in Somaliland is immeasurable and will have a lasting affect politically, socially and economically for all those who live and work in the country. Ironically, in this months (September 2009) issue of the National Geographic magazine, published weeks before the violence started, Somaliland was described as an oasis of calm and gradual progress whereas Somali was referred to as the worlds most failed state and where the best and most reliable employer was the terrorist organization Al-Shabab which allegedly pays $150 a month to their fighters.

The pictures that accompanied the articles showed stark contrast between the war torn Somalia with its many empty shelled buildings and militia run streets and the tranquil streets of Hargeysa where in a side street the Photographer managed to capture a picture of young Somaliland women enjoying beauty and hair treatments at Zamzam’s beauty parlour. However, after the last two weeks of unrest and violence it would appear that this comparison maybe some what unreliable and premature as the Somaliland leadership cannot honestly claim that the nation has any moral or political authority over its war torn neighbour in the South.

The rapid deterioration of peace and the heightening of the political tensions before, during and after elections in Africa are not uncommon but this toxic mix’s ability to destroy community relations, national economies and scar the collective national psyche is well documented in most African country’s, especially Kenya and Zimbabwe. Although the pre-election situation in Somaliland is not as bad as these two nations were at the time they were going to the polls, it has the potential to escalate and create the same level of damage. It is this damage that Somaliland must avoid at all costs for it will crush all hopes of future recognition and progress of any kind.

The main worry for the majority of law abiding, hardworking citizens of Somaliland is that these latest rounds of violent unrest will lead to some form of political sanctions from donor nations and groups such as the EU who may limit funding or cut political ties. In addition many NGO’s providing vital services such as medical treatments, health and welfare advice as well as contributing to the rebuilding of the old, battered infrastructure may feel that they need to suspend their operations as a result of fear for their workers safety. Furthermore, the large leisure industry which is supported by international tourism will suffer heavily as without the guarantee of peace, stability and safety, tourist will not come to spend their money in Somaliland. The consequences of this would be catastrophic for both seasonal workers as well as large and small business entities that are reliant on the tourism trade for survival.

The facts of the matter are not disputed nor should they be downplayed as the demonstrators are angry because of delayed Presidential elections and they just want their concerns to be heard. However, what a seasoned politician like Abdirahman Jama ought to have learnt through his own experiences and from Somalia by now is that violence rarely works as a vehicle of change and never can it be seen to be the route to progress. Violence is the enemy of democracy and the bedfellow of dictatorship and authoritarianism and as such should not be allowed anywhere near the political process let alone engaged in during a Parliamentary session.

Whilst Somaliland awaits the presidential elections the Somaliland government and people need to understand the importance of continuing the peace the nation has enjoyed for the last 16 years. Everybody has a part to play in the reconciliation process and Political parties, especially the opposition, must encourage their supporters to seek peaceful methods of venting their anger or waiting for the elections to vote in the government of their choice.

Somaliland has been the real democratic model for East Africa for the last 16 years. It has grown and developed above and beyond all expectations and all this has been possible because of the peace and political stability the people and government nurtured. Having come so far and achieved so much, one is optimistic that recognition will not be far off and for this dream to be recognised all those who have a stake in the nation must refrain from violence and once again return peace, stability and patience to the heart of Somaliland social policy. This is the nations only hope of restoring its former reputation.

Liban Obsiye, libanbakaa@hotmail.com


SOMALIA: Who’s who in Somaliland politics

NAIROBI, 16 September 2009 (IRIN) - Since Somaliland unilaterally broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991, it has prided itself on its relative peace and the development of democratic institutions, but political events in recent months have rocked its stability.

This article offers a brief overview of Somaliland’s political landscape.

Dahir Riyale Kahin, who leads the United People’s Democratic Party (UDUB), was elevated from Somaliland’s vice-president to president in 2002 on the death of Mohamed Ibrahim Egal. He very narrowly won a presidential election in 2003.

Riyale, who once served as a colonel in Somalia’s infamous National Security Service under the late president Mohamed Siad Barre, comes from Borama near the Ethiopian border and belongs the Gadobirsey clan. He used to enjoy considerable support from the Isak, Somaliland’s dominant clan, whose internal divisions made an outsider more appealing than conflict. This support has waned over the last few years.

He is now facing his biggest political challenge from two opposition parties who hold a majority in the lower house of parliament. “It is very hard to see how he can overcome this challenge. The numbers are against him," said one political observer in Hargeysa, the capital.

Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud, universally known as Silaanyo, leads the Development and Solidarity Party, or Kulmiye, and is considered the leader of the opposition. He lost by fewer than 100 votes to Riyale in 2003.

Silaanyo, in his 70s, served in different ministerial positions in the Somali government in the 1970s and 1980s before joining the armed opposition. He was one of the main leaders of the Somali National Movement, which helped oust Siyad Barre in 1991, and later served in the Somaliland government as a minister under Egal.

He belongs to the Habar Jelo, a subclan of the Isak, and hails from Burao, the second largest city in Somaliland. He is the man most likely to be the next president of Somaliland if he can unite the Isak vote.

Faisal Ali Warabe, leader of the Justice and Welfare Party, or UCID, is an engineer by profession. He was a senior civil servant in the Somali government before the fall of Barre. He is a latecomer to Somaliland politics but is considered one of the most charismatic politicians in the region and one of the few to advocate the rights of marginalized communities. His party holds the third largest number of seats in the lower house. Warabe is from Hargeysa and is a member of the Isak subclan, Iidagale.

Suleiman Mahamud Aden is the leader of the upper house of parliament, or Guurti, and is one of the people publicly working for a peaceful solution to the current crisis. Suleiman Gaal, as he is better known, will be the main beneficiary if an impeachment process launched by the opposition against Riyale goes through. As leader of the Upper House, under the constitution, he will assume the presidency until elections are held.

Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi, widely known as Iro, is a member of UCID and close ally of Warabe’s. He is the speaker of the lower house of parliament and among those the government has accused of fomenting the current crisis by pushing for Riyale’s impeachment. Iro is seen as a likely candidate for interim vice-president should Suleiman Gaal assume the top job.


Somaliland Parliament Resumes Its Sessions

HARGEISA, 15 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The Somaliland parliament resumes its normal sessions today with the presence of 70 MPs. Today’s session which was chaired by the parliament speaker, Mr. Abdirahman Irro was attended by a large number of Somaliland traditional leaders who have been mediating between the two sides.

The parliament said they have only two days left for their extra-ordinary session. The speaker said they will vote if they should go for a month holiday or make an extension to their session. After the voting, 36 members voted in favour of the extension while 32 others voted for the holiday. The speaker did not vote.

The speaker then informed the MPs that the traditional leaders asked the parliament to halt their sessions for two days in order to finalize the mediation process which the MPs agreed.

In his opening speech, the parliament speaker condemned the government of not letting the press cover their sessions. He said the press should be allowed to attend the parliament sessions as they have to right to exercise their freedom and serve the nation.

The press was then allowed to go inside and cover the news from the parliament.


Analysis: Keeping a lid on Somaliland

HARGEISA, 15 September 2009 (IRIN) - There is a need for all-inclusive consultation and support for local mediation efforts in secessionist Somaliland, which has recently experienced sporadic opposition and civil society-led protests over the indefinite postponement of national elections there, say analysts.

Initially set for April 2008, national polls were pushed to July, then 27 September, before being postponed indefinitely due to the current political situation.

In July, Somaliland president Dahir Riyale Kahin announced that he and the National Election Commission had decided to discard a recently completed hi-tech biometric voters' register, over the generation of an unreliable list, and would proceed with elections without it. This prompted opposition protests.

According to Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, a veteran of the 1981-1991 Somaliland liberation war, the situation in Somaliland is alarming.

"Somaliland has experienced so many difficult situations but this is unique because it is not a matter that can be resolved traditionally. It is based on voter registration, elections, and a motion to impeach the president," Gabobe said. "For this reason, we are obliged to make wide consensus consultations to deal with the issue."

Protests

The 14 September re-opening of the House of Representatives, which had been shut days earlier after a scuffle among members of parliament, has not eased the conflict, Gabobe said. The closure sparked deadly protests in the capital, Hargeisa, on 12 September in which four people died and 22 were injured.

"The solutions must come from an all-party or stakeholder agreement. The National Election Commission, political parties, the upper and lower houses of parliament, traditional elders and civil society should be consulted; it is not an issue for one party," he said, adding that more public protests were likely.

The opposition-led house was set to debate an impeachment motion against president Riyale over the oft-postponed elections before its closure.

Somaliland is governed by an elected lower House of Representatives and an upper house comprising clan elders. The elders have twice extended president Riyale's mandate.

A Nairobi-based regional analyst who preferred anonymity told IRIN the recent violence showed that the crisis in Somaliland had changed from being "political to one of security and stability".

"It underscores the importance of political dialogue to defuse the situation," he said. "For things to improve, the rule of law must be followed. This includes the holding of credible elections based on an agreed formula."

"For any elections to be credible there must be changes in the electoral commission," he said. "In the short-term there has to be some sort of short extension for the government, but if it does not hold elections in that time, then the other option would be a caretaker government."

Nicole Stremlau, a research fellow with Oxford University's Comparative Media Law and Policy Programme, said the recent violence did "not necessarily mean that the country will erupt into civil war"... Things in Somaliland appeared to be settling down after Saturday [12 September] as the negotiations are continuing."

She said: "President Riyale believes his government should remain in power whereas the opposition argues a caretaker government should be put in place…

Riyale's term in office expires on 29 October.

More active role for media urged

A September report on the upcoming Somaliland elections, [http://pcmlp.socleg.ox.ac.uk] in which Stremlau and Gabobe are among the authors, said: "Just as Somaliland's pre-election period is proving exceptionally divisive and conflictual, there are strong indications to suggest that if the election is as close as predicted there will be challenges in the post-election period."

The report thus urges the media to be more proactive. "It [the media] can have a role in potentially exacerbating tensions and violence as well as mediating, appealing for calm and explaining the political developments to the population," Stremlau said.

"In recent years there has been little international attention on Somaliland as the focus has been on the south. But Somaliland has made significant progress and has held competitive elections in the past."

HRW report

Echoing this, a July report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), [http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/somaliland0709web.pdf] warned that 18 years of progress in security and governance were threatened by the delayed elections.

"Somaliland now faces a moment of real danger. The president may be intending to prolong his mandate without elections for as long as possible, and his administration risks doing lasting damage to Somaliland's emerging democratic system in the process," warned HRW.

HRW noted that there are also "severe limits to public willingness to openly challenge government actions for fear of threatening Somaliland's hard-won peace and stability or damaging its chances of international recognition."

It went on: "The president and his party have successfully exploited this widespread aversion to direct confrontation to occupy a space well past the legal limits of their power but short of what would trigger real public anger. Many Somalilanders lament that they are effectively 'hostages to peace'."

According to Stremlau, the international community must support local negotiation efforts: "The Somalilanders have shown an extraordinary ability to mediate themselves. This is part of Somaliland's success, particularly compared with the south where international involvement has further complicated and prolonged the violence."


Accepting Somaliland may help stabilize Africa's Horn

By Charles Tannock, September 15, 2009

After almost two decades as a failed state torn by civil war, perhaps the world should begin to admit that Somalia – as it is currently constructed – is beyond repair. Some of the country, however, can meet at least a basic standard of governance. The northernmost region, Somaliland, situated strategically at the opening to the Red Sea and home to roughly 3.5 million of Somalia’s 10 million people, is more or less autonomous and stable. But this stability fuels fears that Somaliland’s people will activate the declaration of independence they adopted in 1991.

At the end of September, Somaliland will hold its third presidential election, the previous two having been open and competitive. Unlike many developing countries, it will welcome foreign observers to oversee the elections, though, unfortunately, most Western countries and agencies will stay away, lest their presence be seen as legitimizing Somaliland’s de facto government.

But Somaliland’s strategic position near the world’s major oil-transport routes, now plagued by piracy, and chaos in the country’s south, mean that independence should no longer be dismissed out of hand. Indeed, following a fact-finding mission in 2007, a consensus is emerging within the European Union that an African Union country should be the first to recognize Somaliland’s independence. A 2005 report by Patrick Mazimhaka, a former AU deputy chairman, provides some leeway for this, as Mazimhaka pointed out that the union in 1960 between Somaliland and Somalia, following the withdrawal of the colonial powers (Britain and Italy), was never formally ratified.

Ethiopia is the obvious candidate to spearhead recognition, given its worries about jihadist unrest within Somalia. Moreover, landlocked Ethiopia uses Somaliland’s port of Berbera extensively. Yet Ethiopia may hesitate, owing to its fears that formally recognizing Somaliland’s independence could undermine Somalia’s fragile Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TGF). But, as Somalia’s new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is a former head of the Islamic Courts, Ethiopia may choose the current status quo in Somaliland over the dream of stabilizing Somalia.

The key regional obstacle to recognition is Saudi Arabia, which not only objects to the secular, democratic model promoted by Somaliland, but is a strong ally of Somalia, which is a member of the Arab League (despite not being Arab) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Saudi Arabia supports the TFG financially and politically. Saudi pressure on Somaliland has ranged from banning livestock imports between 1996 and 2006, to threatening to reject the Somaliland passports of Hajj pilgrims.

When Somaliland’s people vote at the end of September, they will not be deciding explicitly on secession, but their steady effort at state building does amplify their claims to independence. So, two years after Kosovo’s independence, and a year after Russian troops wrenched Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia, it is high time for diplomats and statesmen to provide some guidelines as to when and in what circumstances secession is likely to be acceptable.

Does any self-selected group anywhere have the right to declare independence? If so, the richest parts of any country could decide to go it alone, thus impoverishing their fellow citizens. Even if greed is ruled out as an acceptable motive, in favor of traditional ethno-cultural nationalism, a profusion of tiny tribal states might make the world far more unstable.

Moreover, does anyone, for example, want to see China return to the years of bloody warlordism of the early 20th century? Not likely. Thus clear principles are needed, as neither self-determination nor the inviolability of national borders can be treated as sacrosanct in every case.

So let me attempt to outline some basic principles: First, no outside forces should either encourage or discourage secession, and the barriers for recognizing secession should be set high. Secession is in itself neither good nor bad: like divorce, it may make people more or less content.

Second, a declaration of independence should be recognized only if a clear majority (well over 50 percent-plus-one of the voters) have freely chosen it, ideally in an unbiased referendum.

Third, the new state must guarantee that any minorities it drags along – say, Russians in the Baltic States, or Serbs in Kosovo – will be decently treated.

And fourth, secessionists should have a reasonable claim to being a national group that, preferably, enjoyed stable self-government in the past on the territory they claim. Nations need not be ethnically based; few are entirely. But most nations are unified by language, a shared history of oppression, or some other force of history.

On this, admittedly subjective, measure, Somaliland qualifies as a nation. It was briefly independent (for five days) in 1960 after the British withdrawal, before throwing in its lot with the formerly Italian south, a decision which its people have regretted ever since. In this brief period, 35 countries, including Egypt, Israel, and the five permanent members of the Security Council, recognized Somaliland diplomatically (interestingly, Israel was the first to do so).

If Somaliland’s imminent multiparty elections are reasonably fair and open, the outside world, including the AU and the United Nations, will need to reconsider its status, which has been fudged since the collapse of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991. All three of Somaliland’s parties contesting the forthcoming election are adamant about wanting recognition of the region’s independence, which was confirmed overwhelmingly by a referendum in 2001. So there is no question of one clan or faction imposing independence on the others.

Given the interests of all the world’s great powers in stabilizing the Horn of Africa, there does seem to be movement toward accepting Somaliland’s claims. An independent Somaliland could be a force for stability and good governance in an otherwise hopeless region. So the world may soon need to test whether the controversial principles it brought to bear in Kosovo have the same meaning in Africa.

Charles Tannock is spokesman on the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in collaboration with Project Syndicate © (www.project-syndicate.org).


Hargeisa Violence Attributed to Electoral Tensions

By Ashenafi Abedje, 14 September 2009, http://www.voanews.com/

Somaliland’s representative to the US, Sa’ad Noor, attributes recent violent demonstrations in Hargeisa to disagreements over voter registration. Noor made his comments a day after President Dahir Riyale Kahin called on the opposition to show restraint.

The electoral board recently postponed presidential elections set for September 27. The decision led to rioting last week that resulted in the deaths of three people. Some in the opposition blame the president for the delay.

Scene from the clashes between security forces and protesters in Hargeisa in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland, 12 Sep 2009

“President Riyale’s decision,” said Noor, “was based on the decision of the National Electoral Commission, the only constitutional body that has the power to do that.All he did from the point of view of the technicality of it is to concur with their decision,” he said.

“The real problem was the voter registration list, which was found to be faulty and flawed,” said Noor.“Therefore, the commission found out that they cannot base a democratic election on such a voter registration list, especially in a polity that had been known to be free, fair and democratic.”

The Somaliland representative described the electoral commission as “democratically elected, fully representative and truly independent.”

The breakaway republic has long been regarded as an island of peace and stability in a turbulent region.Noor attributed the current political stand-off to what he characterizes as “the frailty of a young democracy” and accompanying “institutional weaknesses.”

Noor said the current political unease may give pause to some in the international community.But, he said, “what we are going through is a temporary hiccup and we’re going to take care of it.”

While the current controversy may raise some questions in the short run, “it will neither taint Somaliland’s positive image nor diminish our prospects for international recognition” he said.

When all is said and done, said Noor, Somaliland remains a functioning democracy.


Chaos feared as Somaliland cancels elections

September 14 2009, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/

Somaliland is facing the ugly prospect of election -related violence akin to that which occurred in Kenya after the 2007 general election.

A self-declared independent state, Somaliland was set to hold its much-awaited presidential election on September 27.

Last week, the election commission indefinitely postponed the elections, citing the deteriorating political environment. The president later forcibly closed the breakaway republic’s parliament after it began debating impeachment charges against him.

The campaigns were marked by escalating tensions between the government and opposition parties, some of which were pushing for an election boycott. The presidential election has previously been postponed twice.

A group of researchers from Oxford University who recently carried out a comparative analysis between Somaliland and Kenya, also warn that Somaliland could explode into violence should the standoff between the government and the opposition continue.

Should violence erupt in Somaliland, then the entire former Somali republic will be engulfed in violence, given the continued war in Mogadishu between the Transitional Federal Government and Al-Shabaab.

Though not internationally recognised, Somaliland — which unilaterally declared its independence in 1991 following the collapse of Siad Bare’s government — held successful multiparty presidential elections in 2003 and parliamentary elections in 2005.

The presidential election was postponed in 2007 and again in 2008 due to what officials called technical problems, including inadequate voter registration. It was then set to be held before April 6, this year, following a civil registration process.

But Dr Nicole Stremlau, the co-ordinator of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University, told The EastAfrican that their comparative analysis of the Kenyan situation and that of Somaliland indicates the latter is likely to explode in violence.

The fear of conflict springs from the fact that the tenure of Dahir Riyale Kahin has been extended several times, while the voter registration process is yet to be completed to the satisfaction of all parties, raising fear of election malpractices.

In 2003, a mere 80 votes separated President Riyale from his challenger, Ahmed Silanyo, leader of the opposition Kulmiye Party. Just like in the Kenyan scenario, the final vote count in 2003 was delayed for three days, during which some senior Kulmiye leaders rallied supporters to unilaterally declare an opposition victory.

Mr Silanyo conceded defeat following intense mediation, and after the Supreme Court ruled in Riyale’s favour, stating that he did not want to plunge Somaliland into a civil war. Anxiety that the elections would not be held after all, given the threat by the opposition to boycott, only served to raise tensions even before the polls were cancelled.

Constitutionally, Riyale’s term in office was set to end on May 15, 2008, but come April of the same year, parliament passed a motion extending the president’s term because of lack of preparedness for elections. The decision prompted a series of protests.

The most recent agreement endorsed the resolution of the Somaliland House of Elders to delay the presidential election for one year, until September 27, and to extend the incumbent’s term in office until October 29. This further provoked frustration and anger in the opposition.


Researchers from Oxford University warn that Somaliland could explode into violence…

September 14th, 2009, http://www.somaliland.org/

Researchers from Oxford University warn that Somaliland could explode into violence should the standoff between the government and the opposition continue.

Somaliland is facing the ugly prospect of election -related violence akin to that which occurred in Kenya after the 2007 general election.

A self-declared independent state, Somaliland was set to hold its much-awaited presidential election on September 27.

Last week, the election commission indefinitely postponed the elections, citing the deteriorating political environment. The president later forcibly closed the breakaway republic’s parliament after it began debating impeachment charges against him.

The campaigns were marked by escalating tensions between the government and opposition parties, some of which were pushing for an election boycott. The presidential election has previously been postponed twice.

A group of researchers from Oxford University who recently carried out a comparative analysis between Somaliland and Kenya, also warn that Somaliland could explode into violence should the standoff between the government and the opposition continue.

Should violence erupt in Somaliland, then the entire former Somali republic will be engulfed in violence, given the continued war in Mogadishu between the Transitional Federal Government and Al-Shabaab.

Though not internationally recognised, Somaliland — which unilaterally declared its independence in 1991 following the collapse of Siad Bare’s government — held successful multiparty presidential elections in 2003 and parliamentary elections in 2005.

The presidential election was postponed in 2007 and again in 2008 due to what officials called technical problems, including inadequate voter registration. It was then set to be held before April 6, this year, following a civil registration process.

But Dr Nicole Stremlau, the co-ordinator of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University, told The EastAfrican that their comparative analysis of the Kenyan situation and that of Somaliland indicates the latter is likely to explode in violence.

The fear of conflict springs from the fact that the tenure of Dahir Riyale Kahin has been extended several times, while the voter registration process is yet to be completed to the satisfaction of all parties, raising fear of election malpractices.

In 2003, a mere 80 votes separated President Riyale from his challenger, Ahmed Silanyo, leader of the opposition Kulmiye Party. Just like in the Kenyan scenario, the final vote count in 2003 was delayed for three days, during which some senior Kulmiye leaders rallied supporters to unilaterally declare an opposition victory.

Mr Silanyo conceded defeat following intense mediation, and after the Supreme Court ruled in Riyale’s favour, stating that he did not want to plunge Somaliland into a civil war. Anxiety that the elections would not be held after all, given the threat by the opposition to boycott, only served to raise tensions

Constitutionally, Riyale’s term in office was set to end on May 15, 2008, but come April of the same year, parliament passed a motion extending the president’s term because of lack of preparedness for elections. The decision prompted a series of protests.

The most recent agreement endorsed the resolution of the Somaliland House of Elders to delay the presidential election for one year, until September 27, and to extend the incumbent’s term in office until October 29. This further provoked frustration and anger in the opposition.


Somaliland President Urges Calm After Deadly Clashes

By Alan Boswell, Nairobi, 14 September 2009, http://www.voanews.com

The president of Somaliland is calling for his political opponents to cease public protests and to sit down at the table with him for renewed negotiations. Political protests in the breakaway republic of Somaliland turned deadly on Saturday, leaving three people dead and several others injured.

President of the Breakaway Republic of Somaliland, Dahir Riyale in his office in Hargeisa (File) Somaliland President Dahir Riyale cautioned his political opposition against breaking the territory's peace, saying that peace is easy to maintain but hard to win back.

Policemen fired into a crowd Saturday after protesters began burning tires and hurling stones when opposition lawmakers were denied access to the parliament building.

On Sunday, President Dahir Riyale urged the territory's citizens to take a long look towards the south, where the Western-backed Mogadishu government is engaged in a bloody struggle against opposing Islamic militant groups in central and southern Somalia.

He said instability in the breakaway territory plays into the hands of the radical Islamist group al-Shabab. The spiritual leader of al-Shabab recently released a taped message threatening the Somaliland government.

Last week a brawl broke out between members of the Lower House of Parliament after it was ruled a motion to impeach the president could proceed constitutionally. Security forces stormed the building after a parliament member loyal to the president brandished a firearm.

The police have since maintained a lockdown on the building, refusing access to the enraged members of parliament.

A group of parliament members led by the speaker said they were going to peacefully re-enter their chamber on Saturday. When police again barred their way, the crowd that had gathered to escort the lawmakers turned riotous.

Mohamed Nor Arale, one of the opposition members of parliament, says citizens must rescue Somaliland from the hands of the president, who is not interested in holding democratic elections according to the law.

Somaliland has been a pocket of stability and democracy, rare in a region marred with conflict. It broke away from Somalia after the central government collapsed in 1991, although it has yet to be recognized by the international community as a separate state.

Somaliland's election commission has indefinitely postponed elections scheduled for later this month. It was the third delay in a vote that was originally scheduled for April 2008.

President Riyale, who has been in power since 2002, faces strong challenges from two presidential opponents. Both opposition parties have rejected his position that elections should be held without proper voter registration lists.

A number of journalists were detained by police for covering the Saturday clashes. Watchdog groups have accused the government of cracking down on journalistic freedom in the territory.


Tragedy and Hope: Somaliland’s Political Crisis

HARGEISA, 13 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – We watch on the news and read newspapers about the political crisis going on in different parts of the world. In 2007-2009 there are so many political crises in the world; we can see Honduras, Barma, Thailand and Afghanistan. In some parts of Africa political crisis were tainted in to civil wars, From Somalia to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Sudan sons were bleeding and bullets now replace the rain.

But take a minute or may be even ten to think about it. People caught in crisis are just ordinary people who have an identity, real lives, dreams, hopes, fears and desires. They want the same things that you want in life. They want to live peacefully and prosper.

Closer to my home, the people of Somaliland are no different. The small child is crying with hunger. Thousands of young Somali Landers are drowned in the seas with little hope in life. Years of neglect and poor leadership, water is precious than the gold. Social infrastructions are dead and functionless. Public health clinics have no medicines and fail to meet the needs of growing people. With out life supporting needs thousands of children spent their coolest nights at the big towns in Somaliland.

For a decade and half Somaliland is an oasis of peace and tranquility in the horn of Africa and moving increasingly towards consolidating democracy. Somaliland has done amazingly well in managing electoral process. Peaceful, free and fair elections were held to convince the international community of Somaliland’s bonafides as an independent state. Today, time is tough and political temperature in Somaliland reached a precarious echelon. The concept of freedom, democracy and rule of law was misunderstood by most of our politicians.

Somali Landers are not normally enthusiastic the actions of National Electoral Commission. Reflecting the postponement of Somaliland presidential elections many people suggesting to change the election commission, unless there is a change some members of the commission, peace in Somaliland my also in jeopardy. If we are thinking clearly, we are widely blamed NEC for this political crisis.

As a Somali Landers inside and outside we have to look for what is going on our country today. Lack of constitutional interpretations is one of the major causes of this recent political calamity. Though the constitution is formulated after wide public discussions and is the highest law of the country, its using remains flimsy.

Today Somaliland is in the road of danger and the question is about power. The UDUB party is preparing for its third term in office but the euphoria has now giving way to worries about the dominance of the opposition parties. It is some thing needs to be worried that the government take the law of the country in their own hands and make interpretation of their own to fit their political interest. It is clear as the day that the regime is creating more problems and puts as back in the hands of war and chaos. “Stop not thinking Mr. Riyale”.

Where are Somaliland intellectuals, where are Somaliland Sultans & Aqils, Where are the Somaliland young educators and where are men and women who devoted their blood for the existence of this country- the parliament house was under siege again by the government.

In conclusion, we will not accept this kind of dictatorship. We paid very high price to get back our government and we will not parley our peace, stability and our freedom of existence to any one or other group. It is the time to end political argument. It is the time to close the eyes the foreign interventions. You Somali Landers tighten your belts, it is you and I, lets build the nation.

Long live Somaliland for ever.

Written by Farhan Abdi Suleiman (oday)


Somaliland leader calls for calm after deadly demos

HARGEYSA, (AFP) Sep 13, 2009. Somalia — The president of breakaway Somaliland called on the opposition Sunday to show restraint after violent demonstrations killed at least three people in the capital Hargeysa.

"I call upon you to show restraint by ending the protests on Hargeysa. We know that undermining existing peace is very simple, but regaining a lost peace will not be a simple task," Dahir Riyale Kahin told a news conference.

Deadly clashes erupted Saturday when opposition demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans sought to break into the parliament building after police tried to stop a scheduled debate on a motion to impeach the president, officials said.

Witnesses said the riot police opened fire on the crowd and police arrested three journalists. Police said armed protesters wounded four officers.

Faced with increased violence in the tiny self-styled state, Riyale pointed to the unrest in south Somalia with a radical Islamist insurgency as an example of what happens when peace is lost and a state fails.

"Today we know the lack of stability created by the Shebab (radical Islamists) in south Somalia, and we cannot rule out they could also be operational in our region since some of our children are among them, so don't allow yourselves to spill your blood for the sake of someone's interest," he told reporters at the presidential palace.

He also called on the opposition parties to come to the negotiation table without preconditions in order to avoid more violence.

Tension rose in the breakaway state after the postponement of the presidential election scheduled for September 27.

The poll has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the voters' register.

Riyale, in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.


Mr. President it is time for you to Resign!

September 12th, 2009, http://www.somaliland.org/

Confrontations between demonstrator and the police caused a number of deaths and wounded in Hargeysa today. The disturbance was caused when crowds gathered to watch members of parliament attempting to re-enter the Parliament building after the Somaliland administration closed the building down when a resolution to impeach the president was introduced in the chamber earlier in the week.

Allowing the Parliament to come back to session today came to being after negotiation between the president and the chairman of the Elders (Guurti) Mr. Suleban Mohamud Adan. Apparently the president expected the impeachment proceedings to be tabled now that he has allowed Parliament to come back to session, and the chairman of the Guurti was under the impression that there were no conditions attached to allowing the parliament to come back into session, nor could he negotiate on behalf of the Parliament.

When it became clear to the president that the Parliament was not backing down from the issue of impeachment, the decision was made to impede and block some members of the opposition parties to enter the building; this in turn created the condition that sparked the confrontation between the people and the police.

The president is calling for young people to stay home and not protest any longer, but it is hard to say how that message will be received by people who feel neglected and abused for so long. What tomorrow will bring is anyone’s guess as everyone is scrambling to find a way out of this train wreck and UN Special Representative Mr. Ould Abdallah is back again in Hargeysa after visiting there last week.

All indications are that the Rayale administration is having some serious misgivings about the intricacies of democracy when it comes to the separation of powers and conducting timely elections, and with this latest incident the president has lost the only trump card left for him, and that is to safeguard the existing peace. It is difficult to claim that one is for peace, when one is engaged in the very actions that destroy the peace he is asking others to safeguard.

If there was ever a doubt that this president should be impeached, such doubts are no longer viable ones, and for the benefit of the nation and whatever dignity the president has left in him, he should resign and allow this country and these people to resume their natural progression toward democracy and continued stability.

The alternative is more bloodshed and misery, but the outcome will be the same, your reign is over Mr. president, your legitimacy is shattered and the outcome is a foregone conclusion, the only thing in doubt is whether you will leave office willingly or unwillingly. For the sake of our nation we hope you choose the former.

Mahdi Gabose, East Africa Policy Institute www.eastafricapi.com


Southern Neighbour Puts Somaliland on Horn of a Dilemma

September 11, 2009, By Charles Tannock, Source: The Scotsman

AFTER almost two decades as a failed state torn by civil war, perhaps the world should begin to admit that Somalia – as currently constructed – is beyond repair. Some of the country, however, can meet at least a basic standard of governance. The northernmost region, Somaliland, situated at the opening to the Red Sea and home to roughly 3.5 million of Somalia’s ten million people, is more or less autonomous an stable.

But this stability fuels fears that Somaliland’s people will activate the declaration of independence they adopted in 1991.

At the end of September, Somaliland will hold its third presidential election. Unlike many developing countries, it will welcome foreign observers to oversee the elections, though, unfortunately, most Western countries and agencies will stay away, lest their presence be seen as legitimising Somaliland’s de facto government.

But Somaliland’s strategic position near the world’s major oil-transport routes, now plagued by piracy, and chaos in the country’s south, means that independence should no longer be dismissed out of hand.

Indeed, following a fact-finding mission in 2007, a consensus is emerging within the European Union that an African Union (AU) country should be the first to recognise Somaliland’s independence.

A 2005 report by Patrick Mazimhaka, a former AU deputy chairman pointed out that the union in 1960 between Somaliland and Somalia, following the withdrawal of the colonial powers (Britain and Italy), was never formally ratified.

Ethiopia is the obvious candidate to spearhead recognition, given its worries about jihadi unrest within Somalia. Moreover, landlocked Ethiopia uses Somaliland’s port of Berbera extensively. Yet Ethiopia may hesitate, owing to its fears that formally recognising Somaliland’s independence could undermine Somalia’s fragile, western-backed transitional federal government (TFG). But, as Somalia’s new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is a former head of the Islamic Courts, Ethiopia may choose the status quo in Somaliland over the dream of stabilising Somalia.

The key regional obstacle to recognition is Saudi Arabia, which not only objects to the secular, democratic model promoted by Somaliland, but is also a strong ally of Somalia, which is a member of the Arab League (despite not being Arab) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Saudi Arabia supports the TFG financially and politically. Saudi pressure on Somaliland has ranged from banning livestock imports to threatening to reject the Somaliland passports of Hajj pilgrims.

When Somaliland’s people vote at the end of the month, they will not be deciding explicitly on secession, but their steady effort at state building does amplify their claims to independence. So it is high time for diplomats and statesmen to provide some guidelines as to when and in what circumstances secession is likely to be acceptable.

Does any self-selected group anywhere have the right to declare independence? If so, the richest parts of any country could decide to go it alone, thus impoverishing their fellow citizens. Even if greed is ruled out as an acceptable motive, in favour of traditional ethno-cultural nationalism, a profusion of tiny tribal states might make the world far more unstable.

Thus clear principles are needed, as neither self-determination nor the inviolability of national borders can be treated as sacrosanct in every case.

So let me attempt to outline some basic principles: no outside forces should either encourage or discourage secession, and the barriers for recognising secession should be set high. Secession is in itself neither good nor bad: like divorce, it may make people more or less content.

A declaration of independence should be recognised only if a clear majority (well over 50 per cent-plus-one of the voters) have freely chosen it.

The new state must guarantee that any minorities it drags along – say, Russians in the Baltic states, or Serbs in Kosovo – will be decently treated. Secessionists should have a reasonable claim to being a national group that, preferably, enjoyed stable self-government in the past on the territory they claim. Nations need not be ethnically based; few are entirely. But most nations are unified by language, a shared history of oppression, or some other force of history.

On this, admittedly subjective, measure, Somaliland qualifies as a nation. It was briefly independent (for five days) in 1960 after the British withdrawal, before throwing in its lot with the formerly Italian south, a decision its people have regretted ever since. In this brief period, 35 countries, including Egypt, Israel, and the five permanent members of the Security Council, recognised Somaliland diplomatically.

Given the interests of all the world’s great powers in stabilising the Horn of Africa, there does seem to be movement toward accepting Somaliland’s claims and it could be a force for stability and good governance in an otherwise hopeless region.


Nutrition Situation Post Gu 2009

FSNAU Technical Series Report No VI. 25, September 11, 2009

Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit - Somalia, Box 1230, Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya, Website: www.fsnau.org, http://www.fsnau.org/fileadmin/uploads/1582.pdf

An integrated analysis of the nutrition information from the Gu' 09 season indicates a varied yet alarming situation throughout the country (See Map 1). Civil insecurity in Mogadishu leading to on-going population displacement, the severe and deepening drought conditions in Central regions, parts of the South and in the northwest regions and the continuing elevated commodity prices, are the key driving factors in the current analysis. High morbidity, disease outbreaks, limited access to basic services, and poor child care practices further underpin the chronic nutrition crisis faced by the Somali populations. Generally breastfeeding starts on day five of life and children often born already low birth weight and stunted are then offered solids and fluids prematurely. Beliefs and practices of treating childhood illness often results in delayed treatment, meaning a much higher burden of morbidity and mortality than necessary. This translates into a major nutrition crisis manifested in the short term through acute malnutrition and longer term though stunting. Both of these conditions have a devastating impact on the economic potential and development of the population.

Northern regions

In the northwest region, there is a mixed picture with notable recovery to Serious from the previous Very Critical situation in the western Golis Guban, as a result of in migration of livestock, increasing access to milk and increased access to humanitarian support. This recovery is to a lesser degree in the eastern parts, likely due to less positive food security and basic service indicators there. In the other areas there has been no significant change from the Serious situation in the Post Deyr ‘08/09, however localized areas of higher concern are apparent in the agro-pastoral parts of Galbeed, in southern Togdheer, and in Sool Plateau linked to a combination of water crisis increasing diarrhoeal disease and increasing household food insecurity. Given the population density, even without Very Critical rates of acute malnutrition, 20% of all acutely malnourished Somali children reside in the northwest, therefore integrated efforts to meet their needs are key. In the northeast region, analysis of the nutrition situation is also providing a mixed picture, though overall a deterioration from 6 months ago. Critical rates of acute malnutrition are now being reported in East Golis, Guban & Karkar with Serious rates and risk of deterioration in Nugal valley. The sustained Critical rates in Hawd and Addun highlight the concerning nutrition situation in the northeast and the elevated needs.

Emerging Drought and Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC) in Northern Pastoral Areas

There is an alarming deterioration in the food security and nutrition situation of the pastoral and agropastoral communities in the north, caused by an emerging drought after 2-3 consecutive seasons of below normal rainfall. These areas are suffering from consecutive seasons of severe water shortages, stressed livestock migration, high livestock off-take and high debt levels. The situation is now deteriorating further, as indicated by increased malnutrition rates reaching the emergency level threshold of 15% in some areas. An estimated 255,000 people are identified in Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis, while another 25,000 are in Humanitarian Emergency. Unlike south and central Somalia, humanitarian access to these regions is good, therefore it is critical that these areas receive appropriate levels of emergency livelihood support and nutrition response, to prevent a further deterioration into Humanitarian Emergency.

Trends in Pastoral Malnutrition - The Case of West Golis/Guban Livelihood Zones, Somaliland

The pastoral livelihood zones of West Golis (goat, camel, sheep) and Guban (sheep, goat, camel) encompass the coastal plains and highlands of Somaliland. As pastoralists, the population mainly rely on the consumption and sale of milk and animal products for subsistence and commercial purposes. Studies conducted amongst other pastoral populations in Eastern Africa have noted the important contribution that livestock milk makes to the energy and nutrient requirements of pastoral populations, especially children. Milk is a good source of high quality protein and micronutrients and an important contributor to the total energy intake of individuals. Subsequently, increasing the intake of milk is protective against wasting as well as stunting in young children1. In a normal dry season, pastoralists migrate within their region in search of pasture and water as they await the seasonal rains. During this normal migration, the entire household will migrate together; hence all the household members will continue to benefit directly from livestock products.

In situations whereby the area has experienced consecutive seasons of rainfall failure resulting in very limited water availability and inadequate pasture, pastoral populations cope through abnormal migration out of their region. Abnormal migration is an extreme coping strategy and often results in families splitting, where the women and children are left behind with a few lactating animals, whilst the adult and adolescent boys move great distances to areas outside their region in search of water and pasture for their livestock. The vulnerable groups left behind consequently experience reduced household access to food, milk and animal products. Household food consumption then reduces with declined income from the sales of milk and animal products. Further, with the limited milk available, market prices for milk rise. This reduced consumption of milk and household income has a direct impact on the nutritional status of the children, as has been observed, in the case of the West Golis/Guban pastoralists.

Prior to the Deyr ‘08/09, animals from the West Golis/Guban livelihood zone had abnormally out migrated to the Hawd livelihood zone in the south, and the Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zones of Awdal and Galbeed regions, due to four consecutive seasons of poor rainfall in the livelihood. Unfortunately, in addition to the harsh climatic conditions in the livelihood, an outbreak of livestock disease resulted in high deaths of sheep and goat, reducing livestock holdings. The overall impact was a reduction in household food access and consumption of milk and livestock products. A nutrition survey conducted in October 2008 indicated a global acute malnutrition (rate of 22.3% and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 6.6 %, indicating a Very Critical2 nutrition situation. The proportion of households reported to be consuming milk everyday was only 33%, moreover the cost of milk was high, with 1 litre of milk costing 3,500 SL shillings at the local markets. The overall household dietary diversity was Critical3, whilst the proportion of households consuming at least three meals a day was almost half of the population (47.7%). In addition to the precarious food security situation having a negative effect on the nutritional status of the vulnerable pastoral population, the proportion of children assessed that had reportedly suffered from diarrhoea in October 2008 was high at 28.6%. During periods of water scarcity, the population consume unsafe water predisposing them to diarrhoea and further risk of acute malnutrition.

The Gu ’09 rainy season, fortunately was normal. The area received adequate rainfall which increased water and pasture availability, and prompted the in-migration of livestock back to the area. Additionally, livestock from other areas, namely Shiniile and Djibouti also migrated to the West Golis/Guban livelihood zones. This resulted in improved household availability and consumption of milk and animal products. A nutrition survey conducted in June 2009 indicated a marked improvement in the nutrition status of the population, with a global acute malnutrition rate of 13.3%, and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 2.5 %. Household milk consumption had significantly increased, with 60.4% of the households reported to be consuming milk. The price of milk in the local markets had also reduced, with a litre of milk being sold at 1,500 SL shillings, increasing household access. The overall dietary diversity also improved, and only 13.5% of the households reportedly consumed less than 4 food groups a day. Water availability and access also improved in the area, with resultant decline in the incidences of reported diarrhoea, compared to the Deyr ‘08/09.

The Very Critical nutrition situation in the Deyr ‘08/09 also prompted humanitarian interventions in the area. UNICEF, MOHL, World Vision and SRCS implemented selective feeding and health programmes which mitigated the sub-optimal nutrition situation in the livelihood. The Child Health Days also conducted in the region included activities such as immunization, vitamin A supplementation, deworming and screening of children.

The case of the West Golis/Guban is a positive illustration of the importance of milk among the pastoralist populations, and the negative effects of drought on the pastoralist population. Milk availability and consumption has a very significant influence on the nutritional status of the pastoralist population. It also demonstrates the natural ability the pastoral population may have to recover from non cumulative shocks.

Sool Plateau and Lower Nugal Livelihood Zones

The Post Gu’09 nutrition analysis has classified the nutrition situation of the Sool Plateau livelihood zone of Bari and Nugal regions as Serious from Alert in the Deyr’08/09. Data from rapid MUAC assessments in 6 sites in the Sool Plateau indicates the proportion of children with MUAC <12.5cm or oedema as 6.5%. Rubbish Dump-Galkayo I Poor shelter& sanitation in Galkayo IDPs, FSANU, July ‘09. DPs, FSANU, July ’09.

The HIS data is indicating low <10% levels of children with acute malnutrition with an increasing trend in some facilities. The dietary diversity is reportedly poor with reduced consumption of milk, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, severe water shortages have also been reported in the area, as most of the berkads were not replenished in the Gu’ 09 as result of poor rainfall performance in the area.

In the Lower Nugal Valley livelihood zone, the nutrition situation indicates a Critical situation, with deterioration from the Serious levels reported in the Post Deyr’08/09 analysis. A rapid MUAC assessment in 6 sites of the Lower Nugal Valley livelihood zone indicates a high proportion of children (10.7%) with MUAC measurements of <12.5cm or oedema, while (1.6%) with MUAC measurements of <11.5cm. Health facility data indicates a low proportion of acutely malnourished children screened in the MCH facilities (<10%) but with an increasing trend in the last three months. Dietary diversity is also poor in this livelihood zone with milk consumption being negligible, compromising their nutrition situation. There has been an increase in reported cases of suspected measles in the lower Nugal Valley livelihood zone. Health services are available in urban towns but limited in the rural areas. It is imperative to continue to monitor the key food security and nutrition indicators to detect any changes that may occur which may result in a deterioration of the nutrition situation in the livelihood.

Northwest Regions

The Northwest regions comprise mainly of pastoral livelihood zones namely West Golis, Guban, East Golis of Sanaag region, the Hawd, Sool Plateau and the Nugal Valley. In addition, there are two agro-pastoral livelihood zones consisting of the Northwest Agro-pastoral of Awdal and Galbeed region and Togdheer Agro-pastoral of Togdheer and Sahil region. The livelihood zones cut across the administrative regions of Awdal, Galbeed, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag (Map 12).

Historical Overview Post Deyr ‘08/09

The FSNAU Post Deyr ‘08/09 analysis classified the Hawd, Sool Plateau, Nugal Valley, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones as Borderline Food Insecure (BFI), while the West Golis, Guban, East Golis of Sanaag region, Gebbi Valley and Northwest Agro-pastoral livelihood zones deteriorated from BFI and were identified as being in Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC).

The Post Deyr ‘08/09 integrated nutrition analysis classified the West Golis, Guban and the East Golis of Sanaag region nutritional situation as Very Critical, while the Nugal Valley, Hawd, Gebbi Valley and both the agropastoral livelihood zones, were classified as Serious. The Sool Plateau of Sanaag region was the only livelihood zone in the North West region classified as Alert. The nutrition situation among the Hargeisa and Burao IDPs was classified as Serious and Critical respectively. Historically the nutrition situation in the North West region has been below emergency thresholds (GAM <15%) apart from the IDP populations, that have been reporting high acute malnutrition rates.

Current Situation

Food Security

The FSNAU Post Gu ’09 integrated food security analysis has classified the West Golis/Guban in Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC), similar to the Post Deyr ‘08/09 phase, nevertheless the food security indicators show a general improvement. In addition, the Northwest agro-pastoral and the East Golis (of Sanaag region) livelihood zones have also been classified in AFLC, however with an indication of a worsening situation. The Togdheer agro-pastoral and the Sool Plateau pastoral livelihood zones have deteriorated from the situation in the Post Deyr ‘08/09, and are classified in AFLC, with 75% of the poor identified in Humanitarian Emergency (HE). The populations of the Hawd and the Nugal Valley livelihood zones are also classified in AFLC, with a moderate risk of deterioration. The estimated rural population in AFLC is now 240,000 people, an increase from 45,000 people in Deyr ‘08/09, in addition to the 20,000 people currently identified in HE. The population of the urban poor in AFLC has also increased by 36% to 150,000, however the number in HE remains the same at 30,000 similar to the Post Deyr ‘08/09.

Nutrition

The current Post Gu ’09 nutrition situation depicts a varied situation, with three1 of the nine livelihoods in the Northwest regions illustrating an improvement, five demonstrating evident deterioration, and the rest remaining stable compared to the Post Deyr ‘08/09. The West Golis and Guban livelihood zones indicate an improvement from Very Critical to Serious, while the East Golis of Sanaag show slight improvement from Very Critical to Critical. The nutrition situation for the Sool Plateau livelihood zone compared to the Post Deyr ‘08/09, deteriorated from Alert to Serious. The Gebbi Valley livelihood zone nutrition situation also deteriorated from Serious to Critical. Also illustrating deterioration are the populations of the agro-pastoral livelihood of Togdheer and Galbeed regions from Serious to Critical and the Hawd from Serious to Critical, with the Southern Hawd of Togdheer Region being classified as Very Critical. The remaining livelihood zones of Hawd of Hargeisa and Sool regions and the Nugal Valley and Nugal Valley indicate a potential to deteriorate. The nutrition situation of the IDPs from Burao is classified as Very Critical, a deterioration from Critical in the Post Deyr ‘08/09, while the Berbera IDP population is classified as Critical. The nutrition situation of the Hargeisa IDPs remained stable at Serious.

Sool Plateau Livelihood Zone of NW

The Post Deyr ‘08/09 integrated nutrition analysis classified Sool Plateau of Sool and Sanaag region as Alert. This was attributed to the good September and October ‘082 rain performance that led to increased access to food, water and income in the area. Conversely the Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition situation analysis has classified the livelihood zone as Serious with a risk of deterioration. Analysis of MUAC measurements from 330 children in 3 sites indicates the proportion of children with MUAC of <12.5cm or oedema as 5%. Data from health information systems (HIS) in the area indicates low numbers but an increasing trend of acutely malnourished children screened at health facilities.

An integrated analysis of nutrition, health and food security indicators indicate that the nutrition situation in Sool Plateau is Serious. Current analysis further identifies reduced intake of milk and meat products following the Gu ’09 rain failure and the out-migration of livestock, as the main factor contributing to the declining nutrition situation in the livelihood zone. The livestock remaining in the area are unproductive and in poor body condition. This has led to reduced access to income, and milk for consumption, and contributed to poor household dietary diversity. The ongoing drought in the livelihood zone has especially had a negative impact on the vulnerable groups (women and children).

According to the FSNAU Post Gu ’09 gender analysis report, women and children’s access to food is limited due to significant livestock out migration from the area, which has caused families to split, with women losing access and control of income from livestock products and sales. In addition, the drought has also affected the feeding practices of the household, women are spending longer hours away from the home in search of water, compromising the child care practices in the households, leaving children more susceptible to malnutrition. Additional compounding factors further aggravating the vulnerable nutritional situation in the area include, high food costs, lack of adequate safe water (water availability for domestic and animal consumption in the area is very limited due to the on going drought), high morbidity rates and limited access to sanitation and health facilities.

West Golis/Guban Livelihood Zone

The Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition analysis indicates a noticeable improvement in the nutrition situation of the population in the West Golis/Guban livelihood zone from Very Critical in the Post Deyr ‘08/09 to Serious (Table 16). A nutrition survey conducted in June 2009 reported a global acute malnutrition (WHZ<-2 or oedema) rate of 13.3% (10.4-16.9) and a severe acute malnutrition (WHZ<-3 or oedema) rate of 2.5% (1.5-3.9).

The improvement of the nutrition situation in the livelihood is mainly attributed to an improved food security situation as a result of good rains received in the area, compared to the Post Deyr ‘08/09 season. Consequently, water availability, pasture and livestock body conditions improved, resulting in increased meat and milk consumption and income for the households. Based on the June 2009 nutrition survey findings, the proportion of households consuming a diversified diet (>=4 food groups) has increased from 76.4% in the Post Deyr ‘08/09 to 86.5%. Milk consumption has also improved with 60.4% of the assessed households reporting to have consumed milk, based on 24 hour recall, compared to 33.5% in the Post Deyr ‘08/09. The precarious nutrition situation reported during the Post Deyr ‘08/09 prompted immediate humanitarian interventions and establishment of feeding centres and mobile clinics in the region (by UNICEF, MOHL, WVI and SRCS) and have facilitated the rehabilitation of acutely malnourished children and reduced morbidity. The morbidity rate (16.2%) reported from the recent assessments indicated an improvement, with lower rates of diarrhoea (10.8%) reported. Child Health Days conducted in the region by UNICEF and MOHL have improved the overall immunization status of the children, with Vitamin A supplementation reported at 92.2% and measles vaccination at 84.6%. Although an improvement in the nutritional situation in the area has been observed, the vulnerability of the region, to natural shocks, e.g. drought, necessitates continued close monitoring of the situation.

East Golis and Gebbi Valley Livelihood Zones of Sanaag Region

The Post Deyr ‘08/09 integrated nutrition analysis classified the nutrition situation in the East Golis of Sanaag region as Very Critical. Poor household access to milk and meat for consumption, to food and non-food commodities due to high prices, and to clean water and appropriate sanitation and health facilities3 were the main driving factors. The Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition analysis, classified the nutrition situation in the area as Critical indicating a slight improvement for the previous season (Table 16). The slight improvement is likely attributed to selective feeding and health interventions conducted in Erigavo district. A nutrition survey conducted in June 2009 reported a global acute malnutrition (WHZ <-2 or oedema) rate of 17.9% (14.4-22.0) and a severe acute malnutrition (WHZ <-3 or oedema) rate of 3.3% (1.9-5.8). This is the first comprehensive nutrition survey conducted in the livelihood zone and it confirms the distressing nutrition situation identified in the Post Deyr ‘08/09 rapid nutrition assessments. Data from health facilities in the area reported high numbers and an increasing trend of acutely malnourished children. The worrying nutrition situation is mainly attributed to the precarious food security situation and high morbidity rates.

The livelihood zone has received below normal rainfall for four consecutive seasons, including Gu ’09, this has led to abnormal out migration of animals and poor animal body conditions resulting in reduced household income and meat and milk consumption. The population in this livelihood also rely on supplementary income from the sale of gum (frankincense), however due to the poor rains in the region; the gum production has also declined. The morbidity rates reported in the area are high (34.2%), further exacerbating the poor nutrition situation in the area. Poor sanitation, lack of adequate clean water, low immunization coverage and limited health facilities are the chronic underlying factors also affecting the nutritional status of the population. Equally important to note is the mountainous terrain of this livelihood which limits access and humanitarian interventions in the area. Close monitoring of the nutrition situation of this population groups remains crucial, in addition to initializing interventions aimed at rehabilitating malnourished children and improving access to health facilities, especially in the areas outside of Erigavo town.

Gebbi Valley

The Gebbi Valley livelihood zone shows deterioration from the Serious Post Deyr ‘08/09 nutrition situation classification to Critical. A nutrition survey conducted in the area in June 2009 reported a global acute malnutrition (WHZ <-2 or oedema) rate of 15.0% (11.4-19.5) and a severe acute malnutrition (WHZ <-3 or oedema) rate of 3.3% (1.9-5.7). Information from the health facilities in the area indicates a high and increasing trend of acutely malnourished children (Figure 19) in Badhan and Hadaftimo MCHs). The food security situation in the livelihood is precarious due to the drought in the region also affecting neighbouring livelihood zones. This has led to reduced household income, meat and milk consumption. High morbidity rates have also been reported in the livelihood, with 26.6% of the assessed children reporting to have been ill in the two weeks prior to the assessments.

The proportion of children having suffered from diarrhoea was 12.9%. The chronic issues affecting the nutritional situation of the area include inadequate health services, poor sanitation, sub optimal child feeding and care practices and low immunization status. It is therefore vital to expand and commence (in areas that have not began) relevant interventions to rehabilitate malnourished children, alongside long term interventions such as improved child care and feeding practices and provision of adequate health, safe water and sanitation facilities.

The Hawd and Nugal Valley Livelihood Zone

According to the Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition situation analysis, there is deterioration in the Hawd livelihood zone of the northwest region. The Hawd of Hargeisa (Galbeed region) and of Sool Region are classified as Serious, with a risk of deterioration in the Hawd of Hargeisa. The Hawd of Togdheer region is classified as Critical, with potential to deteriorate, whilst the southern part of the Hawd of Togdheer Region is classified as Very Critical. Apart from the Hawd of Hargeisa and Hawd of Sool where the nutrition situation remained stable at Serious compared to the Post Deyr ‘08/09, the Hawd of Togdheer has shown evident deterioration from Serious to Critical and Very Critical in southern parts of Togdheer.

MUAC data recorded from 640 children from 6 sites in the Hawd of Hargeisa indicates that 8.0% of the assessed children have MUAC measurements <12.5cm. The proportion of children at risk (MUAC 12.5-13.4cm) of being acutely malnourished is high (12%). Data from the health facilities (Salaleh, Belegubaddleh and Adade MCHs) illustrate a high and increasing trend of acutely malnourished children.

Household income and consumption of milk and meat is very poor, as animals have out migrated from the region (See photo on page 43) due to poor rains in the area resulting in lack of water and pasture. Lack of adequate safe water has also led to increased incidences of diarrhoea in the area, which unfortunately correlates directly with acute malnutrition.

In the Hawd of Sool Region, MUAC data collected from 550 children in 5 sites, indicate the proportion of children with MUAC measurements of <12.5cm as 7.5%, with 16.6% of the children assessed being at risk (MUAC 12.5-13.4) of acute malnutrition. Low but increasing trends of acutely malnourished children were reported from Kalabeydh health facility.

The MUAC measurements for a total of 630 children from 6 sites in the Hawd of Togdheer region indicated that 16.3% were acutely malnourished (MUAC <12.5cm or oedema), and 8.4% severely malnourished (MUAC<11.5cm or oedema), with one oedema case observed. The proportion of children at risk (MUAC 12.5-13.4) was also high at 17.3%. Information from the Hajisalah and Balidhiig MCHs indicated a high and increasing trend of acutely malnourished children. Although there was no disease outbreaks reported in the area, high incidences of diarrhoea were reported from Ali Farrah, Jeenolaays and Harada Guboto villages. Water availability in the area is very limited due to the poor rainfall performance in the area, also resulting in lack of adequate pasture and hence the out migration of livestock and poor animal body conditions. This has limited the household income and milk and meat consumption.

Even though the situation in the Hawd of Togdheer is Critical, the villages in the southern section namely Ali Farrah, Jeenolaays, Harada Guboto and Dhoqoshey reported higher rates of acutely malnourished children classifying the situation in this area as Very Critical, mainly attributed to the precarious food security situation and high diarrhoea incidences. This is also illustrated through admission trends in Burao OTP showing high numbers of children from this area. Nevertheless, the northern section of the Hawd of Togdheer classified as Critical also shows a high risk of deterioration and should be closely monitored and measures put in place to avert a worsening situation.

The Post Gu ‘09 integrated nutrition analysis has classified the nutrition situation in the Nugal Valley livelihood zone as Serious, remaining stable from the previous season, but with an indication of possible deterioration if the food security indicators do not improve. Nugal Valley has also been affected by the poor rainfall performance reported in the Northwest region. This has had an effect on water and pasture availability and animal body conditions, subsequently having a direct impact on the meat and milk production, consumption and income of the households. MUAC measurements recorded from a total of 1100 children from 10 sites, indicates a low proportion of children both with MUAC of <11.5cm, 0.5%, and with MUAC of <12.5cm was 5.0%. Nonetheless, it is prudent to note that high proportions (18.7%) of the children were identified at risk (MUAC 12.5-13.4cm) of being acutely malnourished. Additionally, data from the health facilities (Garadag, Ainabo, Huddun and Taleh MCHs) indicates high and increasing numbers of acutely malnourished children. Moreover, although there were no disease outbreaks reported in the area, increased cases of diarrhoea were noted in Ali Hersi and Qaridhere villages, mainly associated with consumption of unsafe water, owing to the water scarcity in the area. In addition to the food security and morbidity risk factors, the population remains vulnerable to the persistent hazards associated with poor child care and feeding practices, low immunization status, poor sanitation and limited health facilities in the area. The livelihood zone will need close monitoring of the both the food security and nutrition situation. The initiation of interventions aimed at supporting livelihoods and protecting vulnerable groups is crucial, and should be done along side selective feeding programmes targeting acutely malnourished children in addition to health programmes aimed at reducing morbidity.

Agro-pastoral Livelihood Zones

The nutrition situation of the population in the agropastoral livelihood zone of Awdal region is classified as Serious, indicating no change from the Post Deyr ‘08/09. The MUAC measurements collected from 646 children from 12 sites indicated 6.0% and 0.5% of the assessed children recorded a MUAC measurement of <12.5cm and <11.5cm, respectively. Health facility data (from Boroma Central, Qorgab, Dila, Qulujed and Idhanka MCHs) indicated low numbers and a stable trend of acutely malnourished children. However due to the low crop production in the area and decreased household access to food and milk, the area should be closely monitored. The agropastoral livelihood of Galbeed region deteriorated from Serious to Critical according to the Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition analysis. The proportion of children with MUAC measurements of <12.5cm and <11.5 cm was 11.0% and 5% respectively. Data from health facilities (Gebiely, Togwajale, Allaybadley and Arabsiyo MCHs) in the livelihood zone indicated low numbers but with an increasing trend of acutely malnourished children noted in the last six months.

Increased cases of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections were noted in the area. The deterioration in the nutrition status was mainly attributed to very low crop production in the area due to poor rainfall performance, thus reducing household income and food access. Milk availability and consumption in the area is also limited. The nutrition situation of the agro-pastoral population of the Togdheer region also illustrated a deterioration from Serious in Post Deyr ‘08/09 to Critical according to the Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition analysis. MUAC measurements from a total of 1269 children from 18 sites were recorded, the proportion of children acutely malnourished (<12.5cm) was 11.4%, while the proportion of children severely malnourished (<11.5cm) was 5%, with 2 oedema cases observed. Data from the health facilities indicated a low and stable trend of acutely malnourished children, although no disease outbreaks have been reported, increased cases of diarrhoea have been noted in the area in Gideys, Himan and Beer villages (the same areas where the oedema and marasmus cases were observed).

In addition to morbidity, the precarious nutrition situation is also attributed to the poor food security situation also affecting the agro-pastoral and pastoral livelihoods regions in the area. The agro-pastoralists of Togdheer regions are more of livestock holders than crop cultivators in comparison to the agro-pastoralists of Awdal and Galbeed region, and therefore more vulnerable, as the drought in the region has affected the pastoral populations in the area more severely; this coupled with the low crop production noted in the area increases their vulnerability.

IDPs of the North West: Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera

The nutrition situation of Burao IDPs has deteriorated from, Critical to Very Critical, the Hargeisa IDPs nutrition situation is stable at Serious and the Berbera IDPs at Critical according to the Post Gu ’09 integrated nutrition analysis. During the Post Deyr ‘08/09 integrated analysis, there was insufficient data for the Berbera IDPs to confidently classify their nutrition situation. In April 2009, comprehensive exhaustive (except Hargeisa, small cluster survey conducted) nutrition surveys were conducted among the IDP population of Burao and Berbera towns (Table 19). A global acute malnutrition (WHZ<-2 or oedema) rate of 10-15% (Pr=0.96 using the CDC Probability Calculator), 20.5% and 18.3% was recorded among the IDP population of Hargeisa, Burao and Berbera respectively. The severe acute malnutrition (WHZ<-3 or oedema) rate among the Burao, Berbera and Hargeisa IDPs was 4.9%, 3.3% and 1-2% respectively. Data from the health facilities in Hargeisa indicated a high and increasing trend of acutely malnourished children, morbidity data collected indicated that the proportion of children that had suffered from one or more illnesses in the two weeks prior to the assessment was high (30.3%). Although the nutrition situation among the Hargeisa IDPs has remained stable, close monitoring is required due to the vulnerability of the population. Low immunization status, poor feeding and child care practices, lack of adequate sanitation facilities are also likely to aggravate the fragile nutrition situation.

The nutrition situation of the Burao IDPs has deteriorated from Critical to Very Critical. The drought currently being experienced in the region has also drawn destitute families from the rural areas hoping to benefit from opportunities in Burao Town. From April 2009 increased cases of admissions into selective feeding centres in Burao have been recorded.4According to reports from Medair, the implementing agency in the region, majority of the acutely malnourished children admitted in the SFPs are mainly from rural villages of Togdheer region, namely Harada, Ceeg, Dhooqoshey, War Cibraan, Waraabeeye, Dabaqad, Cali Ciise, Cali Saahid, which are located south of Burao; a few cases were also noted from east of Burao from Beer village (data collected from this village also indicated high cases of diarrhoea). Elevated numbers of acutely malnourished children were also reported from villages south of Togdheer such as Adow yurura, Sanyare,Ceel Bilcille, Ceel Xume. The main factors contributing to the Very Critical nutrition situation of the IDP population include high morbidity rates (29.7%), poor child feeding and care practices, poor dietary diversity (36.8% of the households consumed <4 food groups a day) and poor food access due to high food costs, coupled with chronic underlying risk factors such as poor access to safe water and sanitation facilities. It is therefore imperative to continue, expand and initiate (in affected areas that have not began) appropriate interventions to immediately rehabilitate acutely malnourished children, these interventions should also be backed by long term interventions such as improved child care and feeding practices, improved dietary diversity and enhanced access to safe water and sanitation and health facilities.


Police Detain Somalilandpress Reporter

HARGEISA, 12 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somalilandpress reporter in Hargeisa, Mr. Abdiqani Baynah has been detained by the police today.

Mr. Baynah who was covering the demonstrations during the day has been taken by police forces while he was on duty reporting from the ground.

It is not clear why Mr. Baynah was arrested but he is now held at the Cetral Investigation Department (CID) Head Quarters without any charges against him. He was among tens of other reporters covering today’s demonstrations but it is not clear why he was targeted at this stage.


President Rayale Agrees To Reopen Parliament

HARGEISA, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe, 12 September 2009)- The leader of the of the Upper House of parliament, Suleiman Mohamoud Aden, and nine other members met president Rayale to impress upon him to reopen the parliament, which was taken over by the police on Tuesday, without preconditions.

The president agreed to reopen it, according to Aden. Apart from Aden and his colleagues’ efforts, there were also forty highly influential suldans (traditional clan leaders) who talked some sense into the president to open the parliament on Saturday to avoid a potential confrontation between the police and members of the public who are preparing themselves to defend their MPs to resume their public duties in parliament without hindrance.

“The president agreed to reopen the parliament and will order the police to stay away from parliament premises so that the lawmakers can resume their duties fully in parliament on Saturday,” Mr. Aden said in an interview with the BBC radio. Also, he appealed to the opposition parties to call off their planned nationwide protest activities on Saturday since the president agreed to reopen the parliament.

Thirty-two MPs held an impromptu meeting in a private residence in south Hargeisa on Wednesday after the security forces denied them to resume their duties in parliament. The MPs agreed to present themselves to the parliament on Saturday along with members of the public who are expected to come out in full force in central Hargeisa.

Impeachment trial initiated by the opposition MPs against the president triggered fresh political crisis in the country and put the Legislative branch directly on a collision course with Executive branch. Consequently, president ordered the police to take control of the parliament to prevent MPS from debating on his impeachment trial.

The confrontation between the two sides continues. Before, the confrontation was confined between the opposition parties and the president.


Somalia: Police raid a lawmaker’s house in Somaliland

Mogadishu, 12 Sep 2009, http://www.somaliweyn.org/

The police in the breakaway region of Somaliland have on Saturday night raided the house of Ahmed Diriye known as NacNac a legislator, where over 40 Somaliland lawmakers have gathered to discuss the burning politics in Somaliland.

“Police have stormed in my residential, and I cannot actually verify why they did so but I think it is part of the recent terror which the dictatorial regime has been doing against the Somaliland population, and there were some of the lawmakers in Somaliland who have gathered in my house and it is not crime against any constitution for Members of Parliament to come to my house” and said Ahmed Diriye NacNac speaking to Somaliweyn correspondent in Hargaisa the capital of Somaliland.

Mr. NacNac also added that there were no casualties in the raid carried by the police of Somaliland.

On the other hand there were mass demonstrations which have rocked Hargaisa the capital city of Somaliland.

“Thousands of the inhabitants of Hargaisa city have today converged on the main streets of the town and angrily chanting slogans which were all against the current government of President Dahir Rayale, the demonstrators were burning tyres on the streets, and have blocked the main street towards the Presidential Palace where hundreds of anti-riot police firing live bullets in the air were deployed” said Somaliweyn correspondent in Hargaisa.

The entire of the commercial activity in the town has subsided, and there were no means of transportation in the city.

“We have been patient for along time, and Mr. Rayale thought, that we are fools in fact we are not fools, but smart enough to take him drive out of office and the throne he is enjoying, he thought that the Parliament is his own house and locks it any time he feels like locking and opens and anytime he feels like opening it, this cannot happen” said a furious leader of the demonstration speaking to Somaliweyn radio.

So far the authority of Somaliland and the other political parities have not commented about this demonstration.


Recognising the value of Somaliland

This brave and resourceful African nation is in trouble. We must offer it our support, if only to build a bulwark against terrorism

Jeremy Sare guardian.co.uk, 12 September 2009

Gordon Brown, in his speech on the war in Afghanistan last week served up that old truism: failed states are a seedbed for terrorism and establishing democratic elections are the long-term solution. Pity then that this principle is not applied more widely.

The violent scenes in Somaliland's parliament on Tuesday, following the third cancellation of the presidential election, showed one country's fragile democracy crumbling before our eyes. One MP even pulled a pistol on his colleagues. Why is no country, such the old colonial power Britain, offering to mediate and prevent an eruption of hostilities?

The electoral dispute is relatively simple; it stems from disagreements about the best system of voter registration. A similar impasse in another African country would have elicited an immediate offer of international arbitration. But so far, nothing. It is because the world cannot find the courage to recognise Somaliland, which forms the northern part of Somalia, as a sovereign state.

The recent elections in Afghanistan attracted more than £100m in funding from western countries, in addition to hosts of observers and support staff. Somaliland, given the chance, could also form a bulwark against regional Muslim extremism and terrorism. Lord Malloch-Brown, on leaving the Foreign Office in July said Somalia was a bigger potential source for terrorism in the UK than Afghanistan.

The threat is not academic. The ultra-extremists of Al-Shabab effectively control south central Somalia and they have made clear their murderous contempt for the "un-Islamic" democracy of Somaliland. A series of multiple bombs in Somaliland's capital, Hergeisa last year killed more than 20.

Somaliland's democratic institutions were born of one people's determination to find peaceful resolution to a bitter civil war. Although extremely poor, it has emerged as a brave and resourceful country. Yet the United Nations, the EU and Britain seem content to sit idly by, observing this vulnerable country descend into the familiar chaos of its neighbours in Somalia and Eritrea. Ahmed Yusuf of Somaliland Focus (UK) said: "The involvement of the international community is paramount and desperately needed. Let us not abandon Somaliland … as they did to Somalia 19 years ago."

So far the only country to make any kind of intervention has been Ethiopia. Although assistance should be welcomed from any quarter, the long-standing antagonism between Somalis and Ethiopeans makes this offer of help more problematic than useful. Imagine India offering to negotiate between political parties in Pakistan.

Britain and the US's decision not to act to preserve this young African democracy is directly attributable to Somaliland's lack of recognition as a sovereign nation, despite nearly 20 years of stability. The UN still clings to an absurd notion Somaliland should rejoin its wayward cousin, Somalia. The union of the two countries (1960-1991) was an undoubted failure by any measure and referendums in Somaliland have shown immovable resistance to its restoration. It would be about as welcome as telling the Scots they should be part of England.

The US maintains a freer role than Britain and pivotal one at that. Hillary Clinton's recent seven country tour of Africa shows the continent has risen much higher on the state department's agenda. But Washington still appears widely divided (between state and defence departments) on the issue of diplomatic recognition.

A Foreign Office spokesperson hinted independence was an achievable goal eventually: "Free and fair elections will be vital to Somaliland's democratic credentials." But a former Foreign Office minister described their case as a "no-brainer". So there looks to be a similar conflict of opinion between British officials. But regarding the current crisis, the Foreign Office could offer nothing more than this lethargic response: "A new election timetable should be decided by independent experts and should be agreed by all the parties of Somaliland."

Professor Ioan Lewis, a leading expert on the region, sees Somaliland president Dahir Riyale Kahin's "sticky" presidential chair as the main problem. "It is down to the reluctance of the current president, like so many leaders elsewhere, to follow the constitution and accept that his term is over … his obduracy and growing charges of corruption have prompted this constitutional crisis," he said.

Somaliland's situation underlines the international community's unerring ability to show a failure of leadership. While leaders dither about the etiquette of which country should be first to agree Somaliland diplomatic relations, the country risks capitulation. Its continued isolation can only harm all of us – even from an entirely selfish point of view, we should help them.


Breaking: At least Two People Diead After Police Fire On Demonstrators In Somaliland

HARGEISA, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe, 12 September 2009) – At least two people were killed and several others wounded today after clashes erupted between the police and demonstrators near the Parliament building in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The demonstrators gathered in support of the MPs who were trying to get into the Parliament which Riyale administration ordered closed days ago. Eyewitnesses say, at least two people died after police fired live bullets on the demonstrators. Several others were injured, according to eyewitnesses who say the injured included MPs. Unconfirmed reports say up to six people were killed and many more wounded.

The situation in the city is fluid with police fighting running battles with demonstrators in the streets.

President Riyale closed the Parliament on Tuesday after the MPs decided to start impeachment hearing against him and his vice-president for refusal to hold elections.

Mr. Riyale was declared the winner in 2003 disputed election. His 5-year term ended in 2008 since then the election was postponed six times and his term in office was controversially extended twice.

The president’s refusal to hold elections that was planned for the end of this month over the disputed voter registration list descended the country into a political crisis that opposition leaders say sets the country on a dangerous path of dictatorship.


Three die in Somaliland demonstrations

HARGEYSA — (AFP) Sept 12, 2009. At least three people died and several others were injured in the breakaway state of Somaliland when angry demonstrators clashed with riot police Saturday, officials and witnesses said.

The clashes erupted when opposition demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans tried to break into the parliament building after police tried to stop a debate scheduled on a motion to impeach the president.

"They tried to enter the parliament building by force and the riot police stopped them. There were clashes and so far three people have died," a Somaliland police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The protestors also burned three police vehicles and set fire to tires in the streets, he added.

Witnesses said the riot police opened fire onto the crowd.

"We were peacefully demonstrating this morning when the police aggressively dispersed the crowds by indiscriminately spraying them with gunfire. They killed three civilians and injured several others," witness Mohamed Salad said.

Tempers have been running high over the impeachment motion all week.

On Tuesday police swarmed into parliament after lawmakers fought among themselves and one drew a pistol.

Tension has mounted in the breakaway state after the postponement of the presidential election scheduled for September 27.

The election has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the voters' register.

President Dahir Riyale Kahin, in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.

A former British protectorate, Somaliland broke away from the rump Somalia 10 months after Somali strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

More stable and economically viable than central and southern Somalia in recent years, Somaliland is seeking international recognition as an independent state.


Three killed in Somaliland opposition protest

Sep 12, 2009, By Husein Ali Noor

HARGEISA (Reuters) - Three people died and six were injured on Saturday when Somaliland police used live rounds and tear gas to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing opposition protesters in the increasingly tense breakaway enclave.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the rest of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. But persistent delays to presidential elections have worried rights groups and angered the opposition.

Politicians traded blows in parliament on Tuesday and one lawmaker pulled out a pistol after officials agreed to debate a motion to impeach the president over the delays. The poll set for September 27 was postponed at the start of week.

The opposition-led House of Representatives was due to resume business on Saturday, but when it failed to reopen angry protesters burned tyres along the main road in the Hargeisa.

Initially restrained, the police fired tear gas as crowds neared the presidency and then shot over the heads of the demonstrators when then hurled stones, eyewitnesses said.

They said a youth died from a shot to the head and a woman was among the killed. Three of those injured were police.

Somaliland's president blamed the chairman of the House of Representatives and the main opposition party for the unrest.

"Political problems and disturbances can be solved through dialogue. Using force will give an opportunity to the country's enemies to give more fuel to the disturbances," said President Dahir Rayale Kahin.

"My door has been open for dialogue and is still open. We are ready for discussion but we are also responsible for the security of the country. I see that such an uprising is not good for the people, the nation and its development," he said.

The violent protests came two days after the African Union said it was concerned about rising tensions in Somaliland following the election postponement.

Somaliland is governed by the elected House of Representatives and an upper house made up of clan elders. The House of Elders has twice extended President Kahin's mandate and it is now due to expire on October 29.

The spokesman for the traditional leaders trying to resolve the crisis said they had agreed to meet the House of Representatives chairman later on Saturday for talks.

Sheikh Aden Sira, a prominent religious leader speaking after midday prayer in one of the largest mosques in Hargeisa, said the president should step down.

"You have ruled enough and it would be good if you resign before more blood is shed."


Somalia: 3 killed in Somaliland riots

HARGEISA, Somalia Sep 12 (Garowe Online) - Protestors clashed with police in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland on Saturday as the election crisis deepened, Radio Garowe reports.

A peaceful protest turned into a violent confrontation after protestors attempted to forcefully enter the parliament building, which was seized last week by Somaliland security forces.

Police officers opened fire to disperse the rowdy crowd, police officials said. At least three civilians were killed in the crossfire and six other people wounded, including three Somaliland police officers.

Hargeisa streets were shut down by angry protestors, who placed large rocks on paved roads to block traffic and burned tires. In one case, a Somaliland police vehicle was burned by the protestors.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale blamed Kulmiye opposition party for organizing the protest, while urging the public to remain calm.

"If fighting starts in Somaliland, many enemies who are asleep [now] will awaken," Somaliland's leader said.

He noted that the parliament building was supposed to re-open today, after an agreement was reached to ensure the return of proper and legal proceedings.

But President Riyale accused the opposition of organizing violent demonstrations to disrupt ongoing mediation talks aimed at ending Somaliland's election crisis.

Opposition party leaders have demanded that a caretaker government be named to lead Somaliland until a new election date, following the election commission's decision to postpone September's presidential election to a yet-unknown date.


Somaliland Faces a Tipping Point

Jamie Lynn DeCoster | 11 Sep 2009, World Politics Review

Amid devastated Somalia, a country mired for two decades in unforgiving conflict, Somaliland glows as an ember of hope. A moderate peace has held for 10 years in the autonomous region, reflecting a decade of efforts to expand governance, security and social institutions. Yet, despite it being a minor success in a sea of failure, regional and international organizations will not grant Somaliland status as an independent state, or give it a seat at the international roundtable.

As another transitional government in Mogadishu fractures in the face of insurgent forces, and the international community scrambles to update policy positions, Somaliland must hear the sound of opportunity knocking. With pirates plundering merchant ships in the waters off its coast, and the port of Berbera bridging the supply line between Eritrea and Islamist militants in Somalia's south, Somaliland suddenly finds itself in a position to be a strategically important ally in the West's battle against terrorism and piracy.

Somaliland has shown the international community that it is willing to play ball. Now it must prove it can be a reliable partner in promoting international peace and security by acting as a responsible, accountable and capable government. And the best way to do that is for Somaliland's current president to facilitate fair and legitimate elections as soon as possible.

The region declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, after the bloody collapse of Siad Barre's regime. Since then, a multiparty democracy has evolved under a constitution that combines traditional qabil (or clan) styles of governance with Western models.

Since then, Somaliland has held competitive and credible presidential elections in 2003 and 2005, both of which, though imperfect, were perceived by public opinion as legitimate. Following one of its parliamentary elections, Somaliland's political system was even able to carry out a successful transfer of power to the political opposition.

Somaliland's progress is laudable. Its nascent institutions continue to nurture elements of state infrastructure. The Somaliland currency, for instance, is stable and managed by a central bank. The region's transportation system maintains buses that operate between four main cities, as well as other light vehicles that ensure rural villages' access to major towns.

Among other bright spots is a strong, energetic civil society that expresses its opinions through various media forums, among which radio broadcasts and the Internet are favored. Unlike many of its neighbors, Somaliland's 30,000-strong army has been able to maintain a basic -- and rare -- level of security in the region, allowing people to live relatively free from repression.

But there is still much to accomplish.

A June 2009 Human Rights Watch report, "Hostages to Peace: Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland," uncovered evidence that may shake the foundations of Somaliland's current stability. The report highlighted widespread poverty and rising unemployment, as well as very limited government-provided social services. In particular, it identified the lack of access to health care and education, and a dire need for judicial reform, as cause for concern. Such critical weaknesses test the regime's stability and make Somaliland more vulnerable to the spread of Islamist militancy from the south.

Sadly, there is little prospect for relief because Somaliland, as an autonomous entity without international recognition as a sovereign state, is isolated from international development assistance. And Somalia's overall insecurity deters risk-averse aid organizations from operating there.

Equally disconcerting, current President Dahir Riyale Kahin and his administration have exceeded constitutional term limits and repeatedly postponed elections without any legal basis. Worse still, the Somaliland election commission, under pressure from the Riyale administration, recently canceled this September's presidential elections, stating the current political crisis would impede any fair and democratic elections. No future election date has been set.

In response, the opposition in Somaliland's Parliament has introduced a motion to impeach Riyale. This boiling political instability and divided government could very well undermine Somaliland's legitimacy, and perhaps even its survival, at a most crucial time in its brief existence.

As Somaliland moves toward what may be a tipping point, the international community should stand with it as a potential partner to forestall any radical shift in the region's political order. If the United States intends to continue its containment policy towards Somalia to prevent instability from spreading, it must nurture Somaliland's successes and enhance its capacity to govern its territory. If Somalia's Transitional Federal Government fails, the United States will need to engage directly with Somaliland's governing institutions to further its own antiterrorism and counterpiracy objectives.

Somaliland could be the ace in the hole in those efforts.

In the short run, Somaliland's armed forces need security-sector training to oppose a growing insurgency originating from the south -- training that the United States could be in a position to offer. In the long run, engagement with the United States could potentially encourage the African Union and the United Nations to be more open to recognizing Somaliland's autonomy.

But Somaliland's tempting array of diplomatic prospects is now in the hands of the Riyale regime. For Riyale to make his mark on history, his administration must first improve human rights conditions and actively engage in consensus-building with Somaliland's population. He must support and encourage free and fair elections, and respect their outcome by stepping down as president if need be. Instead of repressing Somaliland's media, he must embrace it. If the Riyale administration can act responsibly today, Somaliland may prevent the spiral of instability and chaos that too often marks the history of this African neighborhood from engulfing it, and instead create a legitimate, independent state.

And if that happens, the ember of hope might just become a beacon for other successes to follow.

Jamie Lynn De Coster is a master's candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.


Somaliland On The Brink of Imminent Collapse

Mohamed F. Yabarag, September 10, 2009, http://harowo.com/

If recent social and political developments are anything to go by, Somaliland is teetering to the edge. Everything seems to be going in the wrong direction for the past five or so years. The country once dubbed by some as the oasis of Africa - rather hastily in my humble opinion - and accorded many more superlatives is stuck in quagmire and weaving through one stumbling political block after another.

The government and its main ally, the Guurti, are at constant war with the opposition and the House of legislatives who are on the other side of the fence. In the meantime, opposition parties are at loggerheads with the executive branch of the government and its Guurti backers, the un-elected house of elders. It is a complete gridlock. Things seem to be going from bad to worse.

This week’s fist-fight between the opposing members of the legislative, which was brewing for quite sometime and the ever hardening stances between the two warring factions, had ushered in an era of uncertainty for Somaliland people in general and Rayaale’s government in particular. The fact that some members of the legislative - entrusted to lead this nascent democracy by example - are prepared to take the law into their own hands to the extent that they brought in weapons to the debating chamber and even prepared to use them is a reflection on the sorrow state of affairs Somaliland is currently in.

There is no love lost between Rayaale’s government and the opposition members of the house of legislative. As soon as the opposition parties have gained the overall majority of the House of legislative, it was obvious that an era of confrontation had begun for Somaliland. This was not because the house will be confrontational but because Rayaale’s government was never prepared to work with the newly elected house, claiming that opposition legislators will be a thorn on the side of the government.

A government heavily relied on tribal chiefs for its survival for the best part of its term in office instead of putting faith on its institutions and divided the country along tribal lines, not to mention creating exclusive tribal regions to cement its power, is bound to face such uncomfortable trying times. The opposition, in desperation, has recently resorted to scare mongering tactics including inciting tribal hatred and even evoking old memories to destabilize the country in the mistaken believe that the government will collapse and that they will form the next government through the back door entrance, a move the incumbent government will always fight tooth and nail.

Even the old derogatory term, “Faqash”, dreaded by large parts of Somaliland communities, is resurfacing nowadays in earnest and publicly used by some members of the opposition parties (including Ucid’s Faisal Ali Waraabe) and often labeled it to Rayaale and a large number of his government cabinet members who did not belong to SNM, the ragtag army that liberated this country from Siyad’s brutal regime. It is back to square minus one. It is back to early nineties when Somaliland was fighting along tribal lines, except this time we are not shooting each other as yet. But the way things are going now, it is just a matter of time before we begin that too.

There is no shadow of a doubt that the bulk of the blame lies fairly and squarely at the feet of the current government, but the opposition has their fair share of the blame too by hardening their position on almost every policy issue the government had put forward for discussion before the house of legislature’s chamber of debate in the past few years. Ever since the House of Legislative was inaugurated, the opposition was on confrontational mood. They vowed to play nasty no matter what. In democracy, opposition political parties are there to form future governments if and when elected, consequently they need to support the government of the day when it is right and oppose it in a constructive way when it negates its duties. That did not happen in the case of Kulmiye and Ucid. They were simply dishing out dirt towards the government even when it is perceived to be doing the right thing.

On the other hand, probably distracted by the fierce opposition from its political opponents, the government has lost the pig picture by failing its basic duties to its citizens to the extent that cold-blooded clannish criminals, who slaughtered innocent travelers like animals and mutilated their bodies in tribal ritual on the road between Gabiley and Dilla, are drinking the best saloons (or rather chewing khat in the best Mafrashes) in Gabiley without fear of prosecution. Three months to that horrific day, the government is nowhere near catching these heinous thugs.

This is another abject failure on the part of the incumbent government. If it cannot bring criminals as wicked as these to the justice, how does it want to be respected. If such things can occur within thirty to forty miles from its seat, Hargeisa, imagine what could happen in faraway places in the eastern and western regions. Low and order was what this government was boasting to be on the top of it. Now that too is disappearing from its radar.

Somaliland is at critical juncture and the coming days rather than weeks are going to be decisive. Failure to arrest the current spate of political violence will almost certainly bring the country down to its knees. The current division between the government and its opponents are hardening by the day. Both houses of parliament, the Guurti and the legislative, are split down in the middle with no sight of compromise in the offing. Even the Ethiopian mediation, or rather Ethiopian lib service, has failed to bring them to a compromising position. The continuation of Rayaale’s government in office, in the current circumstances, is a recipe for disaster. The opposition parties, too, need to soften their uncompromising position and create an environment conducive to political dialogue.

The best forward, in my opinion, is to form a government of national unity consisting of members of the three political parties plus some members of the civil societies- though it is difficult in the current political climate - until such time this mess is sorted out. This may not be acceptable to the government as it demonstrated on many occasions, but this time it has no choice but accept if this country is to be spared from going down in the drain. The current political structure has dismally failed Somaliland, and the prospect of Somaliland coming out unscathed in the current political stalemate is indeed very grim.


Somaliland: Street children “becoming the new gangsters”

HARGEISA, 10 September 2009 (IRIN) The number of street children in Hargeisa, capital of secessionist Somaliland, is on the rise as more Ethiopian children cross the border in search of a better life.

The immigrant children are adding to the burden of local street children, most of whom have been forced on to the streets by drought and insecurity within Somaliland and further south, in Somalia.

“You can see old women accompanying about 20 children, of different ages, crossing the border into Somaliland from Ethiopia. These women may be their grandmothers, aunts or mothers,” Khadar Nour, chairman of the Hargeisa Child Protection Network (HCPN), told IRIN.

"The children, who are mainly from the Oromo [region of Ethiopia], beg in the streets of Hargeisa with their mothers," Nour said. Some work as shoe shiners, sending their earnings to relatives in Ethiopia.

Hargeisa is also a popular transit point for those seeking to travel further. “About 100 to 200 immigrant children cross the border from Ethiopia into Somaliland [annually] on their way to [the self-declared autonomous region of] Puntland, or to Yemen,” he said.

Poverty and family break-ups have also fuelled the rise in numbers. There are about 3,000 children, most of them boys between five and 18, living on Hargeisa's streets.

Crime threat

With the rising numbers, officials are concerned about an upsurge in crime. “They [the street children] are becoming a threat to the town's stability,” said Nour.

“When they grow up, they still find themselves living in difficult conditions; it is for this reason that they grab mobile phones."

Consequently, a number of the children are now in conflict with the law. In August, Nour said, a 16-year-old was sentenced to death in a Berbera regional court after being found guilty of murder.

"The grown-up street children have become the new gangsters," Mohamed Ismail Hirsi, Hargeisa's Central Police Station commander, told IRIN.

"In the last 72 hours, we have arrested more than 30 street children who have committed crimes such as stealing mobile phones in different parts of the town."

In the past two years, some 5,000 knives and other weapons, which are commonly used in robberies, have been recovered from the street children, prompting calls for more focused interventions.

"People say good words in workshops, but few interventions for street children have been [implemented]," said Nour of HCPN, which recently started providing food and education support for the children.

Once arrested, the children are charged as adults because a 2008 juvenile justice law has yet to be implemented.

Glue sniffing

The children living rough are turning to drugs. "I use glue because when first I came to the streets I saw my friends sniffing it," Ahmed Omar, 12, told IRIN. "Whenever I use it, I am able to survive a difficult situation."

The lack of a family support system also means more children may end up on the streets, as Abdi-Qani Ahmed’s experience illustrates. "When my mother and father divorced, there was no one left to take care of me," Ahmed, 11, said. "I used to get my food from restaurants in Hargeisa where I fed on leftovers.”

During Ramadan, however, few if any restaurants are open. "I have to wait to see if someone gives me something to eat or not," he said.

Living on the streets puts the children at risk of abuse from other street children as well as strangers. For protection, the children often seek refuge outside the police station at night.


UN Envoy Arrives Somaliland

HARGEISA, 10 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – A delegation led by the United Nation’s envoy to Somalia arrived Somaliland today. Ahmedou Ould-Abdalla with senior political and humanitarian officers were welcomed at Hargeisa airport by the Minister of foreign affairs and other Somaliland officials.

The trip which was not officially announced is believed to the current situation in Somaliland. During his stay, the UN envoy will meet with the government, opposition parties, parliament and Guurti members as well as others. Sources told Somalilandpress that the envoy will try to mediate between the government and opposition.

This is the first trip of Ahmedou to Somaliland since he was appointed as the UN especial envoy to Somalia and Somaliland.

The visit comes when the political crisis in the country is its highest where no solutions can be seen to the deteriorating political situation in Somaliland.


African Union appeals for calm in Somaliland

By Husein Ali Noor

HARGEISA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - The African Union (AU) called for calm in Somaliland on Thursday after lawmakers scuffled in parliament and one drew a pistol in an angry dispute over the postponement of an election planned this month.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with the rest of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. But persistent delays to presidential elections have worried rights groups and angered opposition politicians.

Nicolas Bwakira, the special envoy of the AU Commission chairman, expressed his concern about the rising tensions after a ballot due on Sept. 27 was postponed.

"The AU special representative calls upon all parties to remain calm and avoid pronouncements and actions that may lead to further deterioration of the situation and further urges all parties to desist from any form of violence," an AU statement said.

"He regrets that if the current situation slips into a state of lawlessness, there will be worsening humanitarian conditions similar to that in the rest of the country."

Violence has killed more than 18,000 Somalis since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.

Politicians traded blows in Somaliland's parliament on Tuesday after officials agreed to debate a motion to impeach the president of the breakaway enclave over the election delays.

One lawmaker began waving a pistol before police burst in and ordered the rowdy politicians out of the chamber.

A poll set for July was put back to Sept. 27. But the electoral commission postponed the election again this week due to worries about whether a vote could be held in the current political climate amid disputes over new electoral lists.

The motion to impeach President Dahir Riyale Kahin was presented on Saturday and the legal advisor to the lower house told lawmakers on Tuesday that the move was legal -- prompting an angry response from ruling party politicians.

Somaliland is governed by an opposition-led house of representatives elected by the people and an upper house made up of clan elders. The House of Elders has twice extended President Kahin's mandate and it is now due to expire on October 29.


Somaliland President Shuts Down Parliament After Impeachment Motion

By Alan Boswell, Nairobi, 10 September 2009

The president of Somaliland has forcibly closed the breakaway republic's parliament after it began debating impeachment charges against him, just a few days after elections were indefinitely postponed. The speaker of Somaliland's Lower House of Parliament accuses of the territory's leader of dictatorship.

Security forces controlled by Somaliland President Dahir Riyale stormed into the parliament on Tuesday and removed the members. Since that time, security forces have locked up the parliament building and refused access to legislators.

Tensions flared up in the Lower House of Parliament after the body's legal advisor ruled that an impeachment motion from a member of parliament was constitutional and could be debated. The ruling resulted in a physical scuffle allegedly instigated by members loyal to the president.

After one member of parliament, known for being a staunch ally of the president, brandished a gun, police moved in and forcibly adjourned the meeting.

The speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Abdurrahman Abdillahi, accused the president of purposefully orchestrating the brawl in order to justify stopping the impeachment proceedings.

"The plan was just either the motion would stop, or the parliament building would be confiscated by the security forces of the president. We have requested the president to remove these units from the parliament building, but there was no heeding," he said.

The president's move is just the latest in a string of actions that critics point to in accusing the Somaliland leader of abuse of power and systematic disregard for the law of the land.

Earlier this week, the election commission indefinitely postponed elections schedule for later this month, citing the deteriorating political environment and the president's decision to hold the poll without voter registration lists. It was the third announced delay of the vote that was originally supposed to take place 17 months ago.

A term extension granted to President Riyale is set to expire in October.

The speaker of the Lower House said the leader is turning the office of the presidency into a dictatorship.

"We think these are the characteristics of an immanent dictator. He does not respect the constitution, he does not respect the laws, and that is the normal characteristics of an immanent dictator," he said.

The Somaliland MPs have announced they and their staff will attempt to peacefully re-enter the building Saturday. The speaker said if this action fails, they will just keep trying until the situation is resolved.

Watchdog groups fear the political crisis in Somaliland is threatening the existence of its young democracy, rare in a region marred with conflict.


Riyale’s Order To Close Parliament A Setback For Somaliland

08 September 2009. http://www.somalilandglobe.com/. Somaliland president who faces impeachment from the Members of the Parliament has ordered his minister of Interior to forcibly close the parliament for an “indefinite period”.

Heavily armed police and military units have cordoned the parliament building and surrounding areas. The police were ordered to enter the building later and close the offices of the MPs and the parliament building itself. Several MPs who refused orders to leave their offices or the parliament building were forcibly removed.

Earlier the MPS heard the legality of the proposed impeachment of the president and the vice-president from parliamentary legal adviser in which he confirmed that the MPs followed the correct legal framework during submission of the motion for a parliament hearing.

However before the parliament session could proceed, one pro-Riyale MP produced a loaded gun and threatened the speaker and the deputy speakers before the police confiscated the gun. The armed MP, Abdirahman Mohamed Jama (Abu Xoog), who should have faced dismissal remains free and is unlikely to face arrest from the police under Riyale’s orders.

As a result of the security incident the parliament leader decided to close the session and informed the MPs that the hearing will commence on Saturday. Within minutes however the police entered the parliament hall and ordered everyone out of the building.

Riyale’s interior minister confirmed that he ordered the closure of the parliament for an “indefinite period” for what he termed “security reasons”. This appears to be a premeditated plan by the minister and at least the armed MP to disrupt the normal sessions of the parliament while the impeachment motion is on the table.

The speaker of the parliament’s house later told reporters that he received news that police visited his house while he was away. The speaker, flanked by his two deputies, spoke about how today’s events “portend ominous consequences” for democracy in Somaliland. They vowed to carry on discharging their duties to the nation as MPs.

President Riyale who controversially stayed in power after his 5-year elected term ended in May 2008, has the Guurti extend his term until October 29 2009 by which time an elected president must be in place. The election that was slated for September 27 is unlikely to be held after Riyale decided to suspend the voter registration list.

The order to close the parliament is among a series of grave actions taken by Riyale lately that present severe setbacks for the democratization process and the long term stability of the country.


Radio Horyaal director, jailed in Somaliland, should be freed

New York, September 9, 2009—Police should release Mohamed Osman, director of Radio Horyaal, who has been held without charge since his arrest on Saturday outside parliament in Hargeisa, capital of the breakaway republic of Somaliland, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Mustapha Abdi Isse, chairman of the Somaliland Journalist Association, said local journalists believe the arrest may have come in reprisal for televised comments Osman made on Somaliland Space Channel. Osman accused Interior Minister Abdillahi Ismail of intimidating Radio Horyaal reporters, local journalists told CPJ.

Detainees may be held for no more than 48 hours without charge, according to Somaliland law.

“The illegal detention of Mohamed Osman is the latest in an ongoing pattern of government intimidation of the press,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes said today. “As the elections in Somaliland are delayed, individuals within the Somaliland government are cracking down on all critical reporting. Authorities must stop harassing the press at this important time.”

The September 27 presidential elections were postponed due to disputes over a voter registration list, according to news reports. Opposition party members have started impeachment proceedings against President Dahir Riyale after he suggested the vote would be held regardless of the state of the voter registration list. Journalists have faced increased harassment in recent weeks as tensions have risen.

On August 30, Somaliland police detained Ibrahim Qasim, a cameraman for the private broadcaster Warya TV, and Abdilahi Budul, a reporter for the private daily Haatuf, for 12 hours after the journalists covered a dispute in parliament, according to local news reports. Both were released without charge, but Qasim’s tapes were confiscated, Isse told CPJ.

Police in the northwestern town of Burao have finally released a Radio Horyaal journalist who was held 22 days without charge, local journalists told CPJ. Fowsi Suleiman was detained since August 3 for a story that accused a local official of malfeasance.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465? Fax: (212) 465? Web: www.cpj.org. Tom Rhodes, Africa Program Coordinator, trhodes@cpj.org | (212) 300 - 9022


Dahabshiil earns international respect

The Independent, Patrick Kagenda, September 09, 2009

Money transfer service company Dahabshiil is investing in technologies to provide both 24-hour online transfers, SMS notification to customers, and guarantee security in excess international protocols and procedures aimed at combating terrorism, money laundering and other illegal usage. The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda talked to Ibrahim A. Ali Gurey, the Dahabshiil Country Manager.

Recently your founder was internationally recognized by the former UK exchequer. What does this mean to you?

This was extra mileage to us this year. The Presidency of Lord Lamont, a former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the International Association of Money Transfer Networks (IAMTN) awarded Abdirashid Duale the Top Manager of the year award. Such recognition is the first of its kind given to an African company and the award not only recognises the outstanding service that Dahabshiil offers its customers and the company’s excellent record for complying with the most rigorous international standards of conduct, but also recognises the company’s commitment to social responsibility.

What is your corporate social responsibility?

Every year we invest in projects that assist the community. We also give 5% of our earnings to school projects, hospitals, and clean water projects. Besides a 5% donation to charity, after the tsunami in 2005 Abdirashid Duale promptly announced that the company would take an active role in providing immediate relief to the people in the regions of Somalia most affected which we gladly and diligently did.

What has been the impact of the global financial melt down of the operations of Dahabshiil money transfer services?

I cannot say we were not affected by the global financial meltdown. Our business is a service and in spite of the global financial meltdown people were sending money to their relatives. Our surviving the global financial meltdown effects is premised on our strength that is based on the fact that we exist in over 40 countries in the world. Because of our African origins most Africans in the Diaspora continued using our services. However there was a drop in the volume of money remittances we handled.

What makes you different from the other money transfer service providers like Western Union and Money Gram?

We are totally different from Western Union and Money Gram because we are inexpensive and oriented towards business as well. Dahabshiil like the other international money transfer services is a truly global operation providing a broad range of financial services to businesses both large and small and international organisations as well as the private individuals. We also operate under full banking licenses in a number of East African countries and are expanding this aspect of our business month on month. We have 1,000 branches and agents in over 40 countries around the world and international offices in London and Dubai. We have offices in 18 states in the US. We are the leading financial services organisation in the Horn of Africa. We focused on the quality of service. We can transfer as much as a business man wants within seconds while our competitors may take some time. Our services are internet based like theirs but we put a lot of emphasis on the time factor. The other difference we have from them is that we allow our customers to negotiate with us. A person sending US $100 to the US or UK will only pay $2 as service fee and when it is an inland transaction say sending money from Kampala to Arua, $100 will be sent for less than $2. We aim at serving more people while charging less so as to earn more.

How old is Dahabshiil money transfer services?

Dahabshiil started money transfer services in the 1970`s and was the pioneer of all money transfer services you see today except for Money Gram and Western Union. Dahabshiil started during the Somali civil war when the central government and the banking system collapsed. It was being operated without the current money transfer technology and was purely based on mutual trust between the person sending the money and the agent paying the recipient. It started as a Somali money transfer service based on the religious fundamentals of helping a brother in need where no ribha (interest) is charged which has since spread to the whole world today.

What new innovation have you added to the money transfer services?

We have invented new schemes like the Dahabcard. The Dahabcard rewards loyalty, so every time you send money with Dahabshiil you earn points.

What are your future plans?

Our plans are to expand to the entire Sub-Sahara Africa. Today we are present in Djibouti where we are opening a fully-fledged commercial bank. We are in Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya and Senegal. Senegal covers our operations in the 17 Francophone countries. However we are waiting for clearance from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and once we are cleared we shall open shop in that country. Our greater plan is to have a global presence.


Cops take control of Somaliland parliament

Hargeysa (AFP. September 09, 2009) - Police in the breakaway state of Somaliland swarmed into parliament after lawmakers fought among themselves and one drew a pistol, a police officer said on Wednesday.

The violence on Tuesday erupted over a motion to impeach the president brought by opposition lawmakers and contested by supporters of the president. Lawmakers backing the president in turn brought another motion calling for the removal of the speaker of parliament.

"What happened today in parliament was a tragic incident; one of the lawmakers drew a gun and tried to kill another lawmaker before the police took control of the situation," Mohamed Adan Warfa, a Somaliland police officer said by phone on Wednesday.

Opposition parliamentarians accused the president's supporters of starting the fight by punching opposition lawmakers.

"They started punching each other and disrupted the scheduled discussions so that the police forcefully closed the meeting hall and everyone went home," said lawmaker Ibrahim Mahdi.

Police disarmed some lawmakers' security guards who were outside the building "as a precautionary measure," Mohamed Adan Warfa said.

The incident which came amid political tension in the breakaway Somali state shocked residents.

"I couldn't believe how bad it was - I saw lawmakers shouting as they were pushed out of the parliament building by the police," witness Osmail Ali Barqad said.

On Wednesday all was quiet in the streets of Hargeysa, residents said. Lawmakers are set to resume their debate on Saturday.

Tension has mounted in Somaliland after the postponement of the presidential election scheduled for September 27.

The election has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the voters' register.

President Dahir Riyale Kahin, in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.

A former British protectorate, Somaliland broke away from the rump Somalia 10 months after Somali strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

More stable and economically viable than central and southern Somalia in recent years, Somaliland is seeking international recognition as an independent state.


Punch-up in Somaliland parliament

HARGEISA, 08 September 2009 (Source: BBC) – Somaliland politicians began punching each other in parliament after officials announced a motion to impeach the president could be debated.

A BBC reporter in parliament says some MPs began muttering, then shouting and it quickly descended into a fist-fight as the politicians exchanged punches.

Eyewitnesses said one MP drew a gun, but no shots were fired.

Analysts say relations between the political parties have been acrimonious since the delay of presidential polls.

Opposition provoked

The BBC’s Ahmed Said Egeh in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, says police had to enter the chamber on Tuesday morning to restore order.

The election was supposed to be held on 27 September but it was postponed because of a new voters’ registration list – the first one to be compiled since Somaliland was formed in 1991.

There were complaints about irregularities in its composition, so the vote was delayed by the electoral authorities.

However, Somaliland’s two opposition parties are adamant that the election should go ahead using the list.

President Dahir Riyale Kahin’s government has suggested the vote go ahead at a later date without a voters’ registration list – which has provoked the opposition to start impeach proceedings.

Somaliland, which is not recognised internationally, has formed its own hybrid system of governance consisting of a lower house of elected representatives, and an upper house which incorporated the elders of tribal clans.


Breaking The Deadlock: Is Power Sharing a Solution?

by Mowlid Ali Hure, 07 September 2009, http://hormoodnews.com/

The main political parties failed to cooperate to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are upheld and a transparent presidential election to take place.

This is partly, as the result of the way the current ruling party handled the election. Two election postponements and a last minute ditch of the electoral registration send the country into political crisis in which political parties failed to come to a sensible and logical solution to the crisis. In this short article, in the light of the historic decision of the House of representatives on the 5th September 2009 to encourage political parties to reach a political settlement, I will briefly attempt to examine the current political parties thinking, namely the proposal of the opposition parties to create power sharing government in order to facilitate a transparent election to take place in the near future.

The political deadlock of the main parties exacerbated following the governments and the electoral commission to ditch the electoral registration and their proposal to hold election without a voter registration. Moreover, the governments decision to reject the decision of the House of Representatives, the constitutional law making body, has deepened the crisis. The decision to ditch the electoral registration might have some valid arguments due to the fact that large numbers of people eligible to vote were not registered in the first place. Nevertheless, the timing of the decision aroused suspicion in many quarters including the opposition political parties and indeed many policy commentators as well as the general public at large. There are fears of vote rigging, which could undermine the validity of the presidential election scheduled to take place 27th September 2009. Thus, the opposition parties remain concerned of such decision and post election implications for Somaliland and therefore threatened to withdraw their participation of the election.

In an attempt to overcome this predicament the opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID proposed a power sharing transitional government to facilitate fairer and transparent election. In my view this is a misguided proposition for number of reasons. Firstly, when we examine the recent levels of cooperation of the political parties in relation to the election we find that in every step of the way there was no consensus on any issue relating to the election from the beginning of the voter registration to its conclusion. Therefore, such power sharing will create further confusion and cause significant delays of presidential election taking place. Secondly, there is a disproportionate lack of trust between the main political parties and it is likely that power sharing will deepened their differences on the issues pertaining to the election. Finally, the notion of multi-party power sharing is alien to the socio-political culture of Somaliland and certainly is it not appropriate in the current political climate. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that such proposition might lead to further dysfunctional of the governance institutions, if not a total melt down.

Therefore given the above reasons and others that, perhaps, have not been mentioned in this article, the power sharing thinking seems to be a misguided thinking and an unworkable proposition when you consider Somaliland’s socio-political culture and especially in the current political climate. The in order to move forward, not backward the political parties should be weary of such proposal and should seek alternative propositions, which could be more productive in leading the country to fairer and transparent election.

Recommendations:

The decision of the House of Representatives to encourage political parties to arrive a settlement of the current political crisis is commendable and should be implemented with immediate effect. The political parties should be careful of the notion of power sharing and should seek alternative propositions that would take the country forward. In order to break the deadlock the government should hold the election as planned and should revise its decision to hold the presidential election without voter registration. The constitutional law making body, the House of Representatives should stipulate the creation of a neutral Electoral Commission to over see the election as matter or urgency.

The creation of the electoral commission should include prominent and trustworthy individuals of various institutions including business and religious institutions and educational establishments. The members of the electoral commission should not be affiliated with political parties and in accordance the electoral commission laws should be amended to facilitate the emergence of such neutral body. The political parties should have their own representatives, who are not permanent members of the proposed neutral body, to over see the election during the election process.


Somaliland MPs scuffle over impeachment motion

By Husein Ali Noor

HARGEISA (Reuters Sep 8, 2009) - Politicians traded blows in Somaliland's parliament on Tuesday after officials agreed to debate a motion to impeach the president of the breakaway enclave over election delays.

Two members of parliament started fighting, then the mayhem spread to other parts of the floor and one lawmaker pulled a pistol before police burst in and ordered the rowdy politicians out of the chamber, eyewitnesses said.

Lawmakers have immunity and are not searched on their way into the building. The pistol was quickly grabbed by other legislators and not fired.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with other parts of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. But persistent delays to presidential elections have worried rights groups and angered opposition politicians.

A poll set for July was put back to September 27. But the electoral commission postponed the election again this week due to worries about whether a vote could be held in the current political climate amid disputes over new electoral lists.

The motion to impeach President Dahir Riyale Kahin was presented on Saturday and the legal advisor to the lower house told lawmakers on Tuesday the move was legal -- sparking an angry response from ruling party politicians.

Somaliland is governed by an opposition-led house of representatives elected by the people and an upper house made up of clan elders. The House of Elders has twice extended President Kahin's mandate and it is now due to expire on October 29.

The polls are seen as a test for the former British protectorate, which has been clamouring for international recognition since declaring independence after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

Human Rights Watch said in July that all the gains made by Somaliland to build stability and democracy risked being lost if the government continued to undermine the law.

It said then that if the September 27 elections were delayed it could prove disastrous for democratic rule in Somaliland.

The government has called the report, "Hostages to Peace", an unfair slur and said this week it was not afraid of the impeachment motion, nor of holding an election.

"We know that the election is near and that the impeachment motion is aimed to obstruct elections, destroy the country and encourage Somaliland's enemies," Finance Minister Husein Ali Duale, a close ally of the president, said on Monday.

The chairman of the house said the lawmaker who took out his pistol would be disciplined and parliamentarians would resume their duties on Saturday.


Somaliland’s existence or corrupted, president Riyale’s wild dreams; the choice is clear!

By: Abukar Ibrahim H Essa, London 31-08-09, http://www.golisnews.com.

Summary

Over the years, Somaliland enjoyed peace and tranquility led by its people after long armed struggle with the late dictator, Siad Barre’s government. Up until now Somaliland has escaped years of bloodshed and civil war suffered by neighboring Somalia. Somaliland also successfully held three different elections within the past decade. But there was continuous constitutional wrangling during the past 18 months which sometimes brought about political deadlock that resulted mass demonstrations by the opposition parties who now enjoy popularity among Somaliland public. There is growing evidence that president Riyale is ignoring Somaliland’s constitution and endangers security and rule of law. In addition, his administration’s corruption acts are all time high. Now, there is a genuine fear that public’s prolonged disappointment and anger erupts into violence without any warning. There are growing concerns that in some areas of Somaliland, land disputes which turned into clan skirmishes, can escalate into full scale fighting. There are also clear signs that majority of Somaliland’s public have doubts over the legitimacy of president Riyale’s continued rule without clear mandate after he played delaying tactics and postponed presidential elections twice .

Nowadays, President Riyale does not take any move unless that to his own advantage, including removing and filling in public posts and offices; to keep his presidential office whatever the cost and no regard to integrity of his office. though these acts of selfishness are testing Somaliland public’s patience, yet it is still not too late to find a lasting solution to the problem. this paper suggests that president Riyale is longer Somaliland’s part of its solution but part of its problems. Somaliland should now be given opportunity to face post Riyale challenges and opportunities because that is nothing more than what this nation deserves.

Background

Pictures emerging from Somaliland capital Hargeisa within the last few weeks were worrying and events that took place within the last 72 hours are alarming indeed. Somaliland’s elected parliament was besieged by special Somaliland police force second day running. The elected law makers were prevented from entering the parliament building and continue their routine debate by police force under direct order of Somaliland president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, reports coming from Hargiesa confirmed. The report was confirmed by the speaker of Somaliland parliament, Abdirahman Ciro. This followed days after 20 members of the ruling UDUB party had a meeting with Somaliland president a day before, disrupted the routine parliament debate. 6 members of the ruling party smashed tables and chairs and destroyed the agenda papers, also targeting and verbally threatening the speaker and deputy speaker. This triggered the use of parliament’s code of conduct act and the speaker excluded 6 members who disrupted the parliament’s debate. But they arrived on next meeting, 29th August with heavily armed police and it has been reported that their ring leaders were armed with pistols. According to the speaker, after he contacted the police commander who was with the armed police besieging the chamber, the commander, Mr Saqadhi told the speaker that this was direct order from higher source, the president, Dahir Riyale Kahin. when asked about this, minister for internal affairs called the speaker "irresponsible who can not mange 82 member parliament", and he alsoaccused speaker of unfairly treating 6 members; clear indication that the adminisitration is trying to overrule and overrun the parliament's affairs.

Constitutionally, the speaker of the house decides when the police are to enter their chamber and the fact that the police forced their way into the law maker's chamber and ignored the speaker's call to withdraw is direct violation of Somaliland’s constitution and abuse of power. This organized hooliganism is directly led by the ruling party and it is part of new forceful tactics to destroy Somaliland parliament which the only elected chamber in Somaliland. The Guurti chamber’s term expired in 2006 but president Riyale wrote what is now known as “the unconstitutional letter “to extend the upper house of Somaliland for another five years. Upper house of Somaliland, in turn, unconstitutionally extended Riyale’s term twice.

Relationship between presidential office and the legislature House has never been easy one; “House of Representatives has attempted to challenge presidential Prerogatives on important issues, the executive have simply ignored it. The presidency has brushed aside and ignored attempts by legislators to exercise their powers over the Budget. This is an especially important issue since parliamentary oversight of government finances was a key concession made by former President Egal in negotiating the form and Substance of Somaliland’s constitution. In 1999 the House of Representatives passed a Nonbinding resolution stating that the entire 1963 Public Order law was unconstitutional, largely because of the president’s assertion that it allowed for its use of the Regional Security Committees. The government ignored the resolution and Somaliland’s minister of Justice insisted to Human Rights Watch that it did not even exist”, Somaliland “Hostages to Peace” Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland, Human Rights Watch.

On 3 different occasions, mediations between the president who is also chair of the ruling party, Udub and the opposition parties , Kulmiye and Ucid had seemed to have reached political consensus, and in each occasion, a day was set for presidential elections, but agreement was later abandoned by the president by not fulfilling his party’s pledge.

There are growing concerns that in some areas of Somaliland, land disputes which already turned into clan skirmishes and claimed innocent civilian lifes, can escalate into full scale fighting. There are also clear signs that majority of Somaliland’s public have doubts over the legitimacy of president Riyale’s continued rule without clear mandate after he played delaying tactics and postponed presidential elections twice. Nowadays, President Riyale does not take any move unless that to his own advantage, including removing and filling in public posts and offices; to keep his presidential office whatever the cost. These acts of selfishness are now testing public’s patience but it is still not too late to find a lasting solution to the problem.

Somaliland and international community are wary over the possibility of recent never-ending political disagreements to escalate into violence, affecting law and order in Somaliland. This can easily give Islamist militancy in the Southern Somalia, Alshabaab to spread into Somaliland and Horn of Africa will suffer unnecessary further bloodshed.

Causes of the latest unrest

The latest disagreements was resulted after the president and four of seven members of National electoral commission discarded recent voter registrations and expelled Inter-peace, which is the body that conducted the voter registration on behalf of Somaliland’s western donors. The president and commission believe that the voter registration was abused by people who registered in the system repeatedly, and the technological capability could not catch them by successfully matching finger prints and facial recognition. However, this is widely contested by almost all other stakeholders for this election, including the other two political parties, both house of parliament, Inter peace and Somaliland donors. As a direct response to discard of voter registrations, European Union believes that “this was a decision with no wisdom”. United States of America’s embassy to Nairobi has expressed “profound dismay with this decision”, and United Kingdom’s embassy to Ethiopia had taken similar stand. There is a serious concern across the board about the recent events in Somaliland. For example, the single most important international observer to Somaliland elections recently warned “the prospect of single party system in Somaliland”.

More importantly, majority of Somaliland public believe that the president decided to discard voter registration results because he did not see any chance of winning within the registered voting system with clear list of eligible voters. Clearly, these claims have merits as the ruling party’s suspicions over voter registration began as soon results appeared from eastern regions; Togdheer in particular, which is where main opposition party leader hails from and enjoy popular support. Members from the National commission who decided to overturn the voter registration were facing allegation of corruption and mismanagement form Somaliland donors after they could not account for how funds for these sources were spent. It is also worth mentioning that Inter-peace demanded replacement of these members if they have to release any further funds into Somaliland’s electoral system. The president and members of the National commission had both seen this illusory opportunity to escape from transparency and accountability. It was win-win situation for both. That is how this latest furor all started.

Corruption andemic

Corruption and mismanagement of meager public funds has reached its peak in recent months. The current president appoints the National auditor, commander of police force, high court judges and all ministerial posts from non elected figures. There a serious question whether these appointed figures merit their posts and they act on his orders otherwise they lose their jobs. With a country of poor nation with over 95% unemployment, it is understandable that some figures in high post would try to get hold of their public offices whatever the cost; including their integrity. For example, in recent editorial article published in Geeska Africa Newspaper (geeska.net) claimed that there are hasty corruption acts within the ministry of public works. The newspaper published this allegation with pictures of public buildings, lands and motor vehicles sold in the black market by the minister for public works. The paper listed all these properties including pictures and plate numbers of motor vehicles. Somaliland’s minister for public works is one of the closest figures to president Riyale and it is believed that he is not doing these acts alone. This is only one example but the use of public funds for political gains is widespread. Indeed, President Riyale does not take any move unless he believes that move will prolong his period of presidency in one way or the other.

In Somaliland constitution, there is a clear procedure to tender any public property and this has to be through the national commission of tender. Any resulting sales must be shown within the annual national budget. Contrary to these guidelines, it seems when other revenues show insufficiency and our president, particularly face internal pressure, integrity and honesty is not an issue, but financing his way through is a priority. This includes selling pubic wealth in the black market. Regional commissioners have unlimited power to arrest and imprison media and other individuals and impose fines which are not accounted for. Commissioners are appointed by president Riyale and they are known to serve him more than the needs of the regions they rule. Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag commissioners committed the worst record of human rights abuses so far against media and personnel expressing their point of view. These victimization crimes include long imprisonment without brining prisoners before court of law, politically motivated beatings against opposition party supporters or media personnel suspected of supporting them. In a recent report from credible source recommends to Riyale to; “Immediately end the ability of the Regional and District Security Committees to order Arrests and detention and impose prison sentences or other penalties. Release all persons currently imprisoned by the Security Committees or promptly charge and try them for cognizable criminal offenses before regular criminal courts”, Somaliland “Hostages to Peace” Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland, Human Rights Watch.

Conclusion

The growing deterioration of Somaliland’s democratization arena and one man’s wild and impossible dream to keep Somaliland power whatever the cost, have tarnished Somaliland’s reputation. Pictures of special police taking over Somaliland parliament, the cramp and torture of media personnel, selling public wealth through the black market to finance the corrupted regime or the corruption that lost any scale, the expel of Inter-peace and deliberate diplomatic plunders of Somaliland authority, to those who assisted Somaliland for long time, does not represent the true nature of Somaliland and its people. Rather it is one short-sighted, self-centered man’s dream to keep Somaliland hostage. Riyale and his few mafia-style men know Somaliland public love Somaliland and respect its rule of law and want to maintain peace and security and they continuously test their patience. The irony is that, the love of Somaliland’s public of peace and tranquility is somehow working for a bully who is taking advantage of the Somaliland public's patience.

Political analysts in Somaliland believe that the current president’s chances of winning fair and free election are remotely distant. His popularity plummeted in recent years but it looks like he is doing everything to keep him in office. Somaliland’s public are now profoundly dismayed with president Riyale’s political and leadership style and ask for quick change of leadership. President Riyale and his scandalously corrupted regime play delaying tactics, and employs an old trick of divide and rule approach. Clearly, Riyale has now lost moral authority and the ability to lead this poor nation into the future. Before it’s too late, we have to choose the well being of Somaliland or corrupted Riyale’s regime as they cannot almost certainly co-exist.

The international community has a role in this; they should continue to support Somaliland democratization process and. Friends of Somaliland should try to avoid to release funds into hands of corrupted officials whenever they can and should deal with civil society directly. Friends of Somaliland are appealed directly to come to the rescue of Somaliland before it’s too late. Riyale is longer Somaliland’s part of its solution but part of its problems. Somaliland should look into the future to nation-building and should be freed from this quagmire in one way or the other. President Riyale is longer Somaliland’s part of its solution but part of its problems.Somaliland should now be given opportunity to face post Riyale challenges and opportunities because that is nothing more than what this nation deserves.

Written by: Abukar Ibrahin H Essa, Msc, Beng, CCNA
Abukar is Golisnews editorial board member and regularly contributes to golisnews.com.

References
1. “Hostages to Peace” Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland, 2009
2. “The Follies of the Somaliland Guurti should not Cloud the Search for Sustainable Peace WardherNews Editorial, April 06 , 2009
3. Chronic Failures in the War on Terror From Afghanistan to Somalia, London, April 2008
4. Human Rights Challenges: Somaliland Facing Elections http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR52/001/200
5. 2009 Somaliland budget Review, Ali Gulaid


In Somaliland, Democracy Relies on Healthy Dialogue

By: Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi

HARGEISA, 7 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – When I visited Somaliland in 2003 and traveled from Sanaag to Awdal regions via beautiful and mountainous Sheikh City, I could always see one thing: whatever the town or city, every time I would see locals gathered at some teashops discussing and resolving the great issues of the country in very good-natured and healthy way, I consider such gatherings as Citizen Watchdogs, who could solve the country’s problems better than elected parliaments.

That claim may or may not be true, but as I continued my visit in these enjoyable moments I often thought to myself that the health of Somaliland democracy is sustained by these informal discussions among the citizens. These discussions are replicated countless times across the country and in different forms. At teashops, Kat Chewing sessions, and many other places. This was one of most encouraging democracies, I have witnessed in the Arab and Muslim World throughout my experience.

In Somaliland, when citizens listen to different viewpoints, they come to understand that politicians typically can’t resolve difficult disputes quickly because each one got hidden political agenda: To Become President. However, the people of Somaliland give the politicians enough space to practice their constitutional roles in the politics, but citizens always defuse the tension, in case of politicians fail to end their differences. Mahatma Gandhi said “Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress”. This wonderful democracy in Somaliland allows more than one political view to be expressed in an open discussion, like the current opposition parties.

In fact, the current criticism by opposition parties over the manner that President Riyale is running the country is essential in democratic systems. They help prevent abuse of power by individuals or groups. Today, the free press and strong opposition parties in Somaliland know everything going around in Somaliland. The Somaliland democracy system always encounter crises; but eventually the system remains stable enough to find compromises or solution in civilized democratic way.

Many Somalis in Puntland – particularly Faroole supporters – believe that Somaliland is disarraying and current political disputes will bring it to end. I don’t blame them, because they never enjoyed or witnessed free democracy like Somaliland in their entire life. They suffered violence and killing, where there is no law-of-order and criminals are ‘HEROES’ in Garowe. They don’t know that healthy disagreements, like in Somaliland politics, are beginning of development process. They should understand such differences don’t reflect on Somaliland’s national interest.

Supporters of Faroole failed to understand that healthy democracies grow stronger from critics. They misbelieve that current election disputes in Somaliland will result chaos, as usual in Garowe city. They don’t know that the government system in Somaliland is very strong, and critics are normal in all democratic societies around the world.

The overarching aim of Somaliland policy is to promote the expansion of democracy in the neighboring countries, as it is the only surviving democracy in the region that is dominated by dictators and military leaders. Somaliland could be described as flower in middle of desert. Somaliland proved all its enemies, including Faroole supporters, wrong and democracy prevails always.

The current political uprising in Somaliland Parliament led by opposition parties like UCID and Kulmiye are sign of free and fair democracy, unlike many neighboring countries that either don’t have parliament or dictator controls it.

In Somaliland, the Opposition Parties control the Parliament with overwhelming majority of about 65% and UDUB, with few seats the parliament, is the ruling party. This promotes accountability, lack of major corruptions and unauthorized use of power by the president and ruling party. Somaliland Parliament controls the activities and transactions of the government.

Recently, Opposition parties in Somaliland took the streets in the major cities of Somaliland including Hargiesa, Gabiley, Burao, Berbera, Erigavo and even Lasacanod. The protestors clashed with the police, and even opposition parties’ use public venue to talk to supporters. This is the free democracy of Somaliland, where neither president and ruling party nor the opposition can take the rule into their hands.

Many factors contributed the current election dispute in Somaliland including the newly installed biometric system, where all Somaliland voters registered electronically using fingerprinting. This system was new to both Somaliland government and Somaliland’s National Election Commission, and until today the server of the system is facing errors. The international community failed to help Somaliland in debugging the server, or provide skilled IT Professionals to Somaliland’s National Election Commission.

Interpeace and EU sponsored the server, but they both failed to debug the errors. The people of Somaliland and government contributed very well in registration process, where government supplied necessary support to the election commission, and 58% of population turned out to the election registration. We can say the new technology let Somaliland and democracy down!

Conclusion:

The people of Somaliland, Opposition Parties and Government rely on healthy dialogues that saved their country from the violence, which destroyed the region, and wise chief tribes always look for peaceful solution to all conflicts. The people should look into their interest, instead of supporting politicians. Somaliland is your asset, so protect it with all possible means.


Somaliland postpones elections again

HARGEYSA — Sep 07, 2009 (AFP) . The electoral commission in Somalia's northwestern breakaway state of Somaliland announced Monday that a presidential election due at the end of the month had been indefinitely postponed.

The commission said the election would not be held as scheduled on September 27 and that a new date would be decided at a later stage.

"Considering the political situation in the region and the need for a broader solution, we have decided to delay the election date," the statement said.

After much bickering, the incumbent regime of President Dahir Riyale Kahin and the two main opposition parties agreed the polls should be delayed following a mediation by the council of elders.

The election has already been delayed twice, notably over a disagreement concerning the territory's voters' register.

In July, Riyale and the electoral commission decided to discard a biometric register that had taken two years to set up, prompting fierce protests and threats of boycott from the two main opposition groups.

"It will not be possible for the elections to be held at this point when the political parties in the country are still failing to reach an agreement," the commission's statement explained.

Riyale, who was born in 1952 and has been in power since May 2002, is seeking re-election but faces a stiff challenge from Faisal Ali Warabe, of the Justice and Welfare Party, and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, of the Development and Solidarity Party.


Besieging the parliament and the assault on Somaliland democracy

by Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan, September 06, 2009, http://www.hiiraan.com/

Somaliland has accepted, like many other societies in the world, a system of governance in which its core foundation is the parliament. The present Somaliland parliament was the first of its kind in the history of Somaliland that was elected through popular vote in 2005 since the foundation of Somaliland in 1991.

MPs in the parliament consist of a variety of people from different social backgrounds with various political orientations – (descent nationalists, democrats, and half-hearted islamists) and (opportunists, tribal chauvinists, demagogs and bribe-collectors).

Although the majority of the MPs as well as the joint chairmanship of the parliament belong to the oppositoin parties, Kulmiye and UCID, nevertheles often they have never been able to articulate meaningful proposals that reflect the policies of the parties they represent in the parliament nor the grand national interest. Whenever they take initiatives in that direction, in most cases, they fail largely due to the manipulation and the interference of the government through bribes and politcal threats.

So in the eyes of the public, the parliament has been generally seen as a hopeless mechanism which failed the nation and they consider the majority of MPs as seflish individuals who only pursue their interests and hence frustrate the workings of the parliament.

What happened on 28th of August, the parliament was divided into two blocks: those who took a firm stand and stick to what they consider as a national issue and a parliamentary responsibility and those whose intention was to disturb the workings of the parliament of that day. The bone of contention started when the chairperson of the parliament, Mr. Abdirahman Irro saw that six MPs whom he suspended from the parliamentary normal sessions for three days in the previous day for disciplinary purposes were sitting in their seats. When he told them again that they should respect the rules of the parliament and leave the hall of the parliament in comformity with his previous order, they refused. Together with their colleagues from the UDUB Party, they started to throw, crash and overturn chairs and tables, cut microphone wires, tear documents and shout with provocative words.

Having realised that the situation is not normal for discussion, the speaker announced that the session of the day is closed.

Outside the parliament, another history was in the making again like Thursday, the 20th of August; the population of Hargeisa came out to express their anger with those who disturbed the parliamentary proceedings as well as the involvement of the government in this matter, particularly when they saw a huge police presence inside and outside the compound of the parliament. They were chanting slogans to defy the governent’s interference in the seat of democracy – the parliament.

Another interesting aspect of the events of the day was when one of the closest ministers of the president who often volunteers to face the public when they are angry, thought things were as usual. But indeed that day things were different. People were very angry for this government’s disregard of the law of the country and its intervention of the parliament. The minister was surrounded by angry young people, elderly, women and children. They demanded from him to resign, reminding him to understand the level of the frustration and the anger of the people.

The masses refused to leave and demanded explanation why the government is interfering the parliament. The speaker of the parliament, Abdirahman Irro together with his two deputies came out from the compound of the parliament and addressed the gathering. Four young men from the demonstrators raised him from the ground and put him on their shoulders. The speaker addressed the gathering with calm voice and with dignity and then the masses started to leavethe scene.

The events of the 20th and 28th of August have shown three significant aspects of the current situation of somaliland:
1. A government and a regime that is losing the confidence of the people by the day,
2. A parliament which is trying to regain the confidence of the people but still struggling how to achieve this,
3. Masses that are gradually understanding their rights including the right to demostrate and the right to defend their democratic institutions and the leaders that they think they are on the right side of the constitution.


Somalia: Somaliland postpones election again, no new date

HARGEISA, Somalia Sep 6 (Garowe Online) - Authorities in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland have declared that presidential elections scheduled for late September have been postponed again, a day after lawmakers accused government leaders of corruption, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland's election commission announced during a Sunday press conference in Hargeisa that the September 27 presidential election will not be held due to prevailing circumstances.

Mr. Jama "Sweden" Mohamud, the election commission's chairman, told reporters that the seven-member commission unanimously agreed on three key issues.

"We reached three decisions after long meetings regarding the possibility of proper elections under the current circumstances," Mr. Sweden said.

He noted that the election commission has "rescinded the decision to hold the elections without the voters' registration data." Somaliland opposition parties had previously threatened to boycott September's presidential election if the voters' list was not used.

Secondly, Mr. Sweden said: "It is impossible to hold the election as scheduled on September 27, when you look at current political, economic and technical conditions." He did not provide a new date for the presidential election, however.

Finally, the election commission decided to "give an opportunity to ongoing talks" aimed at ending the political dispute between Somaliland President Dahir Riyale and the two opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID.

Mr. Riyale, who was democratically elected in 2003, has stayed in power after his five-year term expired in April 2008. He was since awarded two term-extensions by Somaliland's upper house of parliament, the House of Guurti.

Somaliland opposition parties have not publicy responded to the latest election delay, which comes a day after 39 MPs in the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, introduced a motion in parliament accusing President Riyale and members of his administration of "corruption and constitutional violations."

Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed "Irro," the House Speaker, told reporters that the MPs called government leaders, including Vice President Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, to appear in front of parliament and answer lawmakers' questions.


Somaliland's perplexing limbo

Despite peace and stability, the territory is not recognized as a state.

By Tristan McConnell - http://www.globalpost.com/ September 3, 2009

HARGEISA, Somaliland — This month in a country that doesn’t exist an election is due to be held to choose a government that will not be recognized. This is not a hypothetical puzzle, it is the actual state of Somaliland.

Somalia is the world's most glaring example of a failed state: For the past 18 years Somalia has not had a functioning government and has been marked by widespread violence and chaos.

Just a few hundred miles to the north, Somaliland has maintained peace and democracy since it declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. Yet Somaliland has not been recognized by any country in the world and it struggles in a legal limbo.

Somaliland's achievements are impressive. Since it broke away from Somalia, Somaliland has disarmed militias, reconciled warring parties, rebuilt ruined cities, established a government, written a constitution, held two elections considered broadly democratic by observers and gradually become a rare example of peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, a precarious region marked by authoritarian regimes.

Somaliland's record of peace and stability puts the likes of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to shame but with a presidential election postponed for 17 months now expected to be held at the end of September, the fragile post-war democracy in this self-declared chunk of semi-desert in northwest Somalia is facing its biggest challenge yet.

In an interview in his Hargeisa office, President Dahir Rayale Kahin told GlobalPost: “I am committed that this election will go ahead on 27th September, under any circumstances. We will not continue to postpone the election anymore.”

But that’s the problem. The seven-strong electoral commission is widely criticized for failing to adequately prepare the ground for the elections. Their biggest failure was to allow what many observers saw as widespread fraud in the voter registration process.

“The voter register was supposed to prevent fraud but the registration itself was fraudulent!” explained one frustrated civil society activist.

In July, Somaliland’s government threw out Interpeace, a donor-funded peace-building organization, which was trying to clean up the electoral roll in preparation for the elections. In response the two opposition parties — Somaliland’s limited democracy allows only three parties in a bid to avoid the kind of atomized clan politics that dominates in Somalia — said they would boycott the campaign period and even the vote itself.

This latest electoral turmoil follows a series of delays that have brought Somaliland to the brink of constitutional crisis time and again. At the same time human rights groups have warned of a growing authoritarianism in President Kahin’s governing UDUB party.

“Somaliland now faces a moment of real danger," warned an outspoken report published in July by Human Rights Watch. "The president may be intending to prolong his mandate without elections for as long as possible, and his administration risks doing lasting damage to Somaliland’s emerging democratic system in the process.”

The report highlighted harassment of journalists, extra-judicial sentencing and oppression of political opposition.

All this is bad news for Somalilanders who live in grinding poverty, surviving largely on remittances sent from relatives abroad, because the lack of legal recognition means the country cannot benefit from full engagement with major donor nations like the U.S. or international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The delays to the election have disappointed Somaliland’s foreign minister Abdullahi Duale who called them “regrettable” but he was still adamant that his country should be judged by its broader achievements.

“Somaliland has played a leading role in the regional geopolitical democratization process,” argued Duale. “We have fought terrorism, we have fought piracy, in fact we have been the good guys in a very rough neighbourhood. Somaliland is a de facto state. All we are lacking is recognition,” he said.

The contrast with Somalia — where there is no functioning government and no hope of any kind of national election — is stark. By the time President Mohamed Siyad Barre fled the Somali capital back in 1991 he was disparaged as the Mayor of Mogadishu since his control didn’t extend beyond the city limits. The former coup leader left behind him a pillaged economy, a state in ruins and a power vacuum at the top that has been filled ever since by warring clan-based and religious militias.

In Somalia, the insurgents who had coalesced to fight Barre turned on one another the moment he was gone but in Somaliland the rebel Somali National Movement plotted a different course.

Employing traditional methods of dispute resolution and reconciliation that had been left more or less intact by Britain’s very hands-off colonial approach in Somaliland, a traumatized society was rebuilt from the bottom up through a series of grassroots peace conferences held over several years.

This local ownership of the state-building process is the key to Somaliland's success, but in Somalia — despite the years of international support to shore up a series of governments with little or no support on the ground — it has never happened.

Tristan McConnell traveled to Somaliland on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/090826/somalilands-perplexing-limbo?page=0,1


SRSG welcomes UNPOS visit to Somaliland

Source: United Nations Political Office for Somalia, 04 Sep 2009, PRESS RELEASE 026/2009

Nairobi, 4 September 2009 – A delegation from UNPOS, led by the UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia Charles Petrie, visited Somaliland this week to meet officials, with a focus on the continued and strengthened engagement of UNPOS in Somaliland.

The delegation also met members of the Government as well as various political parties and civil society representatives to hear their viewpoints.

The delegation held a constructive meeting with President Dahir Riyale Kahin.

The visit, and in particular the meeting with the President Riyale, was welcomed by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah who said he hoped it was proof of Somaliland's determination to move towards peace and compromise.

"Somaliland has an impressive history of resolving its internal tensions peacefully and I hope this tradition will be used to address the current challenges," said Mr Ould-Abdallah.

"For the past two decades Somalilanders have followed the path of dialogue and denounced violence," he added. "I believe Somaliland can provide many lessons in finding peaceful solutions to the internal crisis."


Somalia: UN delegation visits Somaliland during political deadlock

HARGEISA, Somalia Sep 4 (Garowe Online) - A delegation from the United Nations visited the capital of Somalia's breakaway Somaliland Republic on Thursday, Radio Garowe reports.

The delegation from the UN's Police Office for Somalia (UNPOS) was led by Mr. Charles Petrie, the UN's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia based in Nairobi, Kenya.

A statement from the office of Somaliland President Dahir Riyale stated that the president thanked the delegation for visiting Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

UN delegation meets Somaliland leader in Hargeisa Sept. 3, 2009 "The President and the [UN] delegation discussed many topics, including the security and stability of Somaliland, and the UN's development projects in Somaliland," the press statement read, adding: "The President noted that he and the Government are committed to continue Somaliland on the path to democratization."

Further, according to the Somaliland president's press release, Mr. Petrie informed the government of Somaliland that "the UN will open a new office in Hargeisa" and that the UN is "interested to assist Somaliland with maritime security to prevent piracy."

Separately, a press release issued on Friday from the UNPOS office in Nairobi stated that UN Special Representative to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, welcomed the visit by his deputy to Somaliland.

"Somaliland has an impressive history of resolving its internal tensions peacefully and I hope this tradition will be used to address the current challenges," said Mr. Ould-Abdallah.

The UNPOS press release indicated that Mr. Petrie's delegation also met with opposition parties and civil society groups in Hargeisa.

The UN maintains its primary offices for Somalia operations in Nairobi, due to political instability and relentless violence in parts of the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

There are political tensions in Somaliland ahead of this month's presidential election, which opposition parties have threatened to boycott unless President Riyale rescind an order barring the use of a voters' list for the election.


Al-Shabaab leader targets Somaliland

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF, NATION Correspondent Posted Thursday, September 3 2009.http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/652376/-/136yhwqz/-/

The Amir (leader) of Al-Shabaab, the strongest Islamist movement challenging the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, has accused the Somaliland authority of oppressing the Muslim people in the region.

Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubayr, through a circulated voice message, said: “This authority prevents the Muslim society there from implementing sharia (Islamic) laws,”.

“Such action leaves the people without progress,” he added.

The Al-Shabaab leader, who himself comes from Somaliland, urged the people there to rise against the government and the power structure.

Unsuccessfully

He indicated that since the independence from Britain in 1960, the region has been ruled through un-Islamic governing systems that lead to disappointments.

Sheikh Abu Zubayr blamed the government in Somaliland of having wasted the people’s time by unsuccessfully seeking international recognition for over 18 years.

“This authority’s search for recognition and the hazy democracy it follows amounts to treachery,” said the sheikh.

“The government in Somaliland has only achieved low income, unemployment, poor infrastructure and economic collapse,” remarked Sheikh Abu Zubayr.


Somaliland: Cargo Ship Burns to Ashes at Berbera Port

Hiiraan Online, September 02, 2009

Barbara (HOL) - A cargo ship that carrying goods for Somaliland business owners caught fire at Berbera port where most of the cargo burned except few items people were able to save from the fire. Somaliland government has jailed the captain and the employees of the ship.

According to some reports, the ship was carrying a cargo estimated between 1600 to 2000 tons of various goods including transport vehicles. Workers at the port feverishly tried to put out the fire but to no avail. The ship was later towed away to sea to prevent the fire from spreading to other ships and other parts of the port.

The leader of the opposition party Kulmiye Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud (aka Siilaanyo) has spoken about the incidence in a written statement where he expressed his sadness for the people of Somaliland who lost property in the incidence.

There is no statement from the government of Somaliland on the loss associated with fire and how it will affect the people of Somaliland.


Editorial: It is Not the End of Somaliland

HARGEISA, 2 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Whenever there is a political standoff in Somaliland all the doom mongers crawl out of their sewers and start telling the world that this latest political confrontation is the one to signal the end of the Somaliland State! But is it?

It is hard to find many places in the world with the unique arrangement and problems that Somaliland has. To millions of people, it remains an important part of the Somali Republic. To millions of others, it is a sovereign and independent nation. This is why whenever the democratization process in Somaliland hits a snag it attracts comment from supporters and opponents inside and outside Somaliland. The supporters of Somaliland are almost always domestic whilst the opponents are mostly external. In other words, the pro-unity camp resides mostly in Somalia whilst the pro-independence camp hails mostly from Somaliland.

Now Somaliland has a new crisis! It seems that the president of Somaliland has ejected an organization that was helping the country with voter registration and other issues to do with the democratization process. It is reported that the opposition parties are outraged by the actions of the president and have refused to take part in the elections that are due to take place on the 27th of September 2009! It is understood that their anger stems from the fact that the elections were postponed three times already and that one of the major reasons for these postponements concerned the need for voter registration! We’re told that the parliament (or at least its Somaliland equivalent) has disagreed with the president’s decision but that members from his party have disagreed with the parliament and were consequently suspended. We heard that the president ordered the police to surround the houses of parliament and ensure that his evicted members be forcibly reinstated and allowed to take part in debates relating to the elections. We understand that the opposition parties have mobilized their supporters and that demonstrations have taken place in various parts of Somaliland (but mainly the capital and houses of parliament).

The events and situations related above are all true and clearly confirm the political impasse taking place in Somaliland. However, no one was killed, no buildings were burned and no property was destroyed (save a couple of chairs in the parliament chamber). The way these events have been reported however is what causes many to believe that the end is nigh for Somaliland, but is it?

It is an election year in Somaliland. All political parties are positioning themselves in the most aggressive way possible. All parties want and hope to win. Therefore, the mud is sure to by flying, the accusations dispatched and the insults overflowing. The opposition talks about the secret service history of the president whilst the government supporters retort by mentioning the greed of the eighty-year old opposition leader. The opposition badmouths the president’s wife and talk about her alleged interference in government business, whilst the ruling party sneer at the political immaturity of the opposition. Furthermore, one group accuses the president of being a Somali mole whose ultimate aim is to sneakily return Somaliland to Somalia, whilst the other accuses the opposition leader of having covert dealings with the Somali Republic! In short, both sides are waging dirty political campaigns and spreading negative rumors about the other. Yet, again, nobody died!

The above was all about the internal squabbles in Somaliland and how a rumor and counter rumor is the order of the day there. However, this internal rivalry and political horse trading is also, unwittingly (or maybe indifferently), feeding the external pro-unity hyenas! Now observers from Garowe to Mogadishu to unpronounceable places further south are all (prematurely) declaring the death of the State Of Somaliland! Where in the past they would lay into the entire idea of Somaliland and insult its people, they now, having imagined a glimmer of an opportunity, are praising Somaliland and giving it brotherly condolences for a dream that was not fulfilled! Worse still, they patronizingly offer advice on the best way forward and how Somaliland and its people shall only prosper by returning to the Somali fold!

The pro-unity minority crowd are themselves divided between the government of Somaliland and the opposition. They are unsure of which of the two has the more fertile ground. On the one hand, there is plenty of mileage in referring to the president’s history as an ex- employee of the former Somali dictator and a dictator in the making himself! They can not pass this delicious opportunity to sneer and scoff at a people who defeated one dictator only to be assaulted with another of their own! On the other hand, there is much to be said about an opposition that seems to be outmaneuvered and outgunned. The sentiment seems to be something along the lines of ‘this man is going to bring you and your country down. Come and join us in the South and we shall overcome him by virtue of sheer numbers’.

Then there is the Free Press game. Apparently, the Ogre of Hargeisa has banned Free Press and like many African dictators before him, he is keeping his poor people in the dark! But does any country really need free press in the age of the Internet and satellite TV? Could the president of Somaliland ban the BBC for instance?

The best argument the pro-unity crowd have is the one about an elite group of Somalilanders holding the country hostage to their whims and opportunistic fancies. Yet this was said of the first president of Somaliland. It was said of the second president. It is said of the current president. It is said of the leaders of the opposition. It is said about many of the Somaliland businessmen. The first and second presidents are gone but Somaliland remains. The current president will sooner or later go and Somaliland shall remain. The leaders of the opposition will, in the future, be replaced by new leaders and yet, Somaliland shall continue to be.

Somaliland resisted against all the odds. It resisted against the former dictator Siad Barre with all his power and the support of the outside world. It resisted against a deadly civil war that has devastated Somalia. It resisted against the terrorists and their sympathizers. It will continue resisting everything that is against the humanity, democracy and injustice.

There is a Somali saying “When there is a disagreement, the stupid person thinks it is fighting”.

As long as nobody dies may the hyenas laugh, the opposition wags their fingers and the president rewrite the constitution. It is all good clean fun and it adds to the maturity and progress of Somaliland.


Somaliland Bashers: Clean Up Your Mess

by Ismail Hassan, August 31, 2009, http://www.hiiraan.com/

There are numerous individuals and groups who endeavor constantly and tirelessly to undermine the inevitable recognition of Somaliland. These individuals/groups are predominantly from Southern Somalia—the most dangerous place on earth. As rationality commands, these Southerners should have spent their time and energy cleaning up their mess and putting their home in order. Instead, they waste their precious time and energy opposing the inevitable recognition of Somaliland by publishing countless baseless articles; convening hall meetings; attempting to lobby unproductively on the parliaments of their respective country of domicile; becoming excited and energetic whenever they hear the slightest disagreement between Somaliland’s parties; wishing and hoping to witness the demise and destruction of Somaliland. One of his political cartoons, the unbiased, intelligent, and renowned artist in our time, Amir Amir, depicts vividly and succinctly this predicament. Mr. Amir drew a political cartoon portraying a group of Southerners riding a buss on fire while apposing and criticizing Somaliland’s independence. This moving political cartoon demonstrates brilliantly the lack of vision and priority of the Southerners.

Every Somalilander astonishingly wonders why Southerners waste their precious time opposing or criticizing Somaliland when their home becomes a slaughterhouse; when their boys and girls are dying in every minute on the streets of Mogadishu and elsewhere; when murder, rape, hunger, disease, and malnutrition becomes part of their daily living. The answer to this question reflects not only the Southerners’ inability to reshuffle their priorities, but also their loss of vision, which resulted their enduring tribulations and predicaments. Furthermore, this blatant lack of vision and priority generates the inability of the Southerners to create peace in their midst for the last 18 years, let alone to construct a viable and functioning governing system.

Failing and exhausted, Southerners should have spent their time and energy unearthing the secrets and expertise of Somalilanders. Put it bluntly, they should have learned from Somalilanders the means and the measures needed to acquire in order to create peace, stability, tranquility and functioning governing system. Somaliland irrefutably succeeded not only to create a functioning governing system, but the first democratic state in the Horn of Africa: the president of Somaliland is elected by a popular vote; their parliament is elected democratically; there are three contending political parties; there is a free media; their disagreements are resolved peacefully and democratically, not by assassinations, murder and suicide bombings as Southerners. If Southerners failed miserably and painfully to create peace and tranquility, why don’t they learn from Somaliland? The answer to this question demonstrates further not only their lack of vision and priority, but their confusion and bewilderment. That is, they fail to realize the framework and the solutions that Somaliland provides for them.

We, Somalilanders, feel the pain and the suffering of our brethren, Southerners. There is no one single Somalilander who enjoys the agony of Southerners. However, when one reads an article written by a Southernerer criticizing Somaliland, or encounters such individuals, one wonders what is wrong with our brethren? I say, nothing is wrong with them. They simply lack vision and priority, which creates and reinforces their confusion and bewilderment. Therefore, I would advice every Somalilander to appreciate this horrible reality that our brethren are facing and be patient with them. Whenever you encounter a Southernerer who is criticizing Somaliland, you need to realize that s/he is simply confused, dazed, and desperate.


Somaliland: Parliament Security

Written by Ahmed Khayre, Aug 30, 2009, http://www.qarannews.com

There have been some scurrilous reports from certain journalistic bankrupt websites that Somaliland “armed forces” have seized the Somaliland parliament. According to this particular website, that only a few days ago reported the false news that the Somaliland President, Mr. Kahin had sacked his very active and able defence minister. For shame, if there is no news, then make it up and then distorted the facts. Of course, that is par for the course in their corrupt locales, after all, once a pirate always a pirate in Pirateland. First, all the Somaliland Police Force are in charge of the Parliament security. They can only enter the internal offices if they have been requested by the Speaker or the chair of the session in progress.

Secondly, during the recent security operation on Saturday, August 29th, 2009, the police conducted their security patrol with minimum fuss, there were no arrest, and no member of the Parliament was in any dealt that impinged their dignity. Thirdly, no reporters were beaten or manhandled. It was an orderly patrol that was designed to protect the well-being of the parliamentarians and ensure the safety of all those present at the complex.

Sadly, Somaliland’s enemies have resorted to fabricating news in order to try and besmirch the nation’s reputation for peace and democracy. In this era of uncorroborated news, in which most of these bankrupt website do not even have a reporter in the locale, lies and fabrications are used to spread falsehood disguised as journalism. The Somaliland Police Force has always conducted themselves with valour and honour, and has in no way breached their role as the custodians of law and order.

The same cannot be said for the authorities in whom these anti-Somaliland and morally bankrupt websites operate. The advice to those who are interested in Somaliland and would like to get a balanced view of the situation, based on true journalistic values of balance, research and confirmation, is to avoid reading articles that begin in the following manner;

Somalia: Somaliland or include the phrases such as secessionist or headlines that enclosed in quotation marks, because, it is one hundred percent certain that these kind of articles are propaganda pieces masquerading as journalism, fabricated by anti-Somaliland elements who have neither the resources nor credibility to write fair, balanced and objective articles.

These kinds of websites are akin to the so-called gutter press, in fact, they are much worse than that and everything they write should be regarded as lies and fabrication or at the most taken with a pinch of salt.


Armed Policemen Enter Parliament To Aid MPs of Somaliland’s Ruling Party

HARGEISA, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe. 29 August 2009 )- Around two hundred armed policemen entered Somaliland’s parliament to force the Speaker of the House to allow six legislators of the ruling party, UDUB, to attend and participate in today’s parliamentary session although the legislators were disciplined and given 3 day suspension from attending sessions.

The Speaker of the House abruptly ended today’s business when the armed policemen aiding the six legislators walked into the building of the lower house of parliament. The legislative leadership and other members of the parliament came out of the building and protested against the police’s unwarranted intrusion into the parliament.

“Today’s Parliamentary session is cancelled following the deployment of a large contingent of police that won’t take orders from us,” said Abdurrahman Mohamed Abdillahi, Speaker of the lower house of parliament.

The police commander of Somaliland, Mohamed Saqadi Dubad, was quoted as saying that the police was “acting on orders from the president”. He also told the Speaker that his order to suspend the six legislators from attending the parliamentary sessions will not be followed.

The six disgraced legislators, who are zealously loyal to Dahir Rayale, faced a disciplinary action, according to parliamentary regulations, and were, as a result, suspended from attending three parliamentary sessions due to gross disorderly conduct. They were protesting against a parliamentary agenda which included impeachment proceedings against the president.

As soon as they were given the suspension, the six fanatical loyalists joined by other pro-presidential legislators held a hastily arranged press conference yesterday at which they bizarrely “appealed to the police, the military and the minister of interior to come to their aid”.

The president had answered their appeal and directly ordered the police to force the legislative leadership to allow the six men to attend and participate in the parliamentary session without any hindrance irrespective of the Speaker’s decision.

On 24th August, the six MPs began to cause criminal damage by breaking chairs and ripping off wires in the parliament following their failure to make any amendments to the parliamentary agenda. Consequently, they used foul language and threatening behavior against fellow members and made a spectacle of the parliament. Witnesses described the incident as an absolute disgrace and a conduct unbecoming a Member of Parliament.

Analysts point out that Rayale’s political difficulties have deepened in recent weeks and as a result he has become increasingly paranoid. He has feuded with the leaders of both Houses of parliament, breached the Electoral Law of the country by reaching a “unilateral decision” to hold the forthcoming presidential election without voter registration list, ignored donors countries’ appeal to reverse his “unwise decision” and contemptuously rebuffed a parliamentary resolution calling for him to reverse his decision within seven days.

The time remaining for Rayale to put his house in order is fast running out: his mandate will expire in October this year. He is therefore constantly haunted by the prospect of impeachment and immediate removal from office.


Somaliland: Further Presidential Term Extension May Result in Public Revolt, Warns UCID Leader

LONDON, United Kingdom (Somaliland Globe. 28 August 2009)- Faisal Ali Warabe, the leader of Somaliland’s second largest opposition party, Justice and Welfare party, known by its Somali acronym, UCID, has warned, in an interview with the BBC Somali Service, that if president Rayale’s term of office is extended this time around there will be a nationwide revolt against the government.

Faisal said the country will enter an uncharted territory because it is not clear from the text of the constitution as to what will happen if the presidential election fails to take place on 27 September as scheduled and the president’s term of office subsequently expires in October.

Faisal said Rayale has reached a dead end in his presidential term extensions and that there is no other option available for him and his vice-president.

He said president Rayale cannot invoke article 83 of the constitution because of security considerations. He should be ashamed of himself for the current political morass which he precipitated and should face the reality, he added.

He disclosed that the Ethiopian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tekeda Alemu, accompanied by European delegation from donor countries will return back to the country.

Faisal said whilst most of the issues have been resolved the most vexing question that remains unanswered is who will replace the president and vice-president once their term expires since they cannot invoke article 83 this time around. He ruled out any further extension of presidential term as that would be “impossible” because the public have no stomach for it.

Article 83, Clause 5 of the constitution states that “if on the expiry of the term of office of the President and the Vice-President, it is not possible, because of security considerations, to hold the election of the President and the Vice-President, the House of Elders shall extend their term of office whilst taking into consideration the period in which the problems can be overcome and the election can be held”.

“The President and Vice-President cannot invoke article 83 because there are no existing security considerations. In the past, it was the opposition that made compromises and acquiesced with the president to have his term of office extended but this time he should accept the brutal reality that all party leaders will contest on a level playing field,” Faisal told the BBC.


The People’s Power And The Modern Political History of Somaliland

Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan, Vice President Candidate of UCID Party August 28, 2009, http://harowo.com/

On Thursday, the 20th of August, 2009, the people of Somaliland turned out to the streets of all the major cities in the country to express their feelings and what they think about the current political situation. The people gave full support to the two opposition parties, UCID and Kulmiye by answering their call in a decisive momentous fashion. Few days before the demonstration, I, Faisal Ali Warabe (chairman of UCID Party), Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) (Chairman of Kulmiye Party), and Abdirahman Sayli’i (Vice president Candidate of Kulmiye Party) met the Minister of interior.

We handed him a letter in which we had informed him that the two parties and their supporters would like to make a public rally on Thursday, so that the leadership of the political parties share with their supporters the current political situation of the country.

The Interior Minister, Mr. Abdillahi Iro politely received the letter from us and told us that he would give us an answer as soon as possible. The next day, he wrote a letter to us saying that only Kulmiye Party could organise a rally on Thursday and this fits to their schedule as specified in the campaign paper issued by the National Electoral Commission (NEC); while the Minister perfectly knew that the opposition parties had already categorically rejected to participate in the campaign unless NEC and the President return to the legality of the country and respect the parliament’s statement regarding this matter. He also knew that the opposition parties have a constitutional right to make a peaceful political demonstration or rally.

Wednesday midnight, the Minister made an announcement on the state-run television that no rally will be allowed either for Kulmiye or for UCID; while the preparations of the rally were already in full swing and in the final touches for the Thursday demonstration.

In Hargeisa, at eight o’clock in the morning, the leadership of the two parties arrived at the Freedom Park before the public arrival to give a leadership to the rally. When we arrived there, the gates of the Freedom Park were closed and each gate there were about ten policewomen standing at the gates and units of armed police were deployed inside and outside the Park.

After realizing the state of affairs and understanding the reasons why they particularly deployed policewomen at the gates, we told our supporters to be calm and not to push the policewomen nor break the gates.

The people of Somaliland refused that their constitutional rights to be denied anymore and took the streets carrying banners and waving the flags of the opposition parties and pouring to the Freedom Park Square (Fagaaraha Beerta Xoriyadda) and the similar places in the regions.

While we could not go inside the garden and install the public speakers in the usual stage inside the garden, we spoke to the people from a loudspeaker in a car as the gathering gained momentum minute by minute until the whole area was congested. In the faces of the crowd, there were both “sadness and anger” and “happiness and excitement”. Anger and sadness because their rights for demonstration was deprived and “happiness and excitement” because they, with the help of Allah, finally achieved their aim.

This was a demonstration and a public rally that the people of Somaliland rarely have experienced which is normal in all countries. Demonstration is one of the pillars of democracy and human rights. Denying people from this right is unconstitutional in any aspect we look at.

Thursday, 20th of August was a memorial day, a day in which the Somaliland masses were making a history, although some of them may not have known its significance. Eventually, the police realised that the people were on the right side and they could not disturb the peace and cause of the people.

The events went in a similar way in all the regions of the country except Borama and Las Anod where the local opposition leaders were arrested and put in prison and Berbera where the police fired at the gathering.

The public demonstrations or rallies which have been common in the streets of Cape Town, Nairobi, Sarajevo, Toronto and London has taken place in the streets of Hargeisa and other major towns of the country. But this was realised after major obstacles and difficulties.

Whenever the regime continues to deny the people from excising and expressing their political rights, conversely the people’s political consciousness and maturity grow and they come to realise that they have to come out to defend their rights. This is what happened in Somaliland on Thursday, the 20th of August, 2009. It was a milestone of Somaliland modern political history and democratization process.

I would like to congratulate all of those who participated in this important historical event – students, youth, women with their children, the elderly, the press and the other sections of the community. The participants of this historical event, which went peacefully, were people who may not have had a breakfast in the morning and if they have had they may have had one cup of tea and two slice of Somali pan cake (koob shaah ah iyo laba xabadood oo loxoox ah); but determined to fight for their rights.

The people of Somaliland, you ought to remember that this marked a significant event of your firm belief to demand your rights through constitutional method, and the event also constitutes an important stage of Somaliland modern political history and democratization process.


Ahmed Nour-Mohamed, "I hope to earn enough polishing shoes to take my family home"

HARGEISA, 28 August 2009 (IRIN) Only nine years old, Ahmed Nour-Mohamed, from Ethiopia and living in Hargeisa, capital of secessionist Somaliland, has big plans – to make enough money from shoe-shining to take his father and siblings back home. Nour-Mohamed is one of dozens of Ethiopian children who have crossed into the Somaliland side of Tog-wajale town on the Ethiopia-Somalia border to undertake petty trade in Hargeisa. An immigration official based in Tog-wajale said children such as Nour-Mohamed were allowed to cross the border without question over their legal status "because they are children and they do not have travel documents". Nour-Mohamed spoke to IRIN on 26 August:

"I am the second-oldest child out of my five brothers and sisters. We live with our father in Sheedaha settlement in Tog-wajale but we are originally from Babuli [in Ethiopia's Oromo region].

"My mother died four months ago and since we did not have anything to eat, my father decided to bring us to Hargeisa; I used to go to school in Ethiopia but now I don't, I have started work as a shoe shiner.

"A big problem for me is that I do not speak enough Somali and I am often misunderstood by some of my customers. However, most of the time my friend, Mubarik, accompanies me and interprets for me as he speaks good Somali.

"When I started shining shoes, the stronger street children often took advantage of my small size and at times robbed me of all that I had made but I am now wiser, I have made friends who are also shoe-shiners and we look out for one another.

"I was robbed of all my earnings and polish by a street gang in Ida'ada district on 26 June and now I have decided to operate within Kodbur district of Hargeisa, which I believe is a little more secure than other parts of the city.

"On average, I earn about 10,000 Somaliland shillings [US$1.50] daily. I always take what I earn to my father who then saves it for us. Since my father collects food donations from our neighbours, we try to save as much as we can because our plan is to go back to Babuli where we originally lived."


Ethiopia: Only Negotiations are Somaliland’s best option

Published 08/28/2009, http://jimmatimes.com/ Statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs

President Dahir Riyale Kahin will lead secessionist Somaliland to an election in September. Ethiopia has tried to appease both TFG and Somaliland as Dahir Riyale seeks UN recognition for his country

It’s been almost 20 years now since Somalia had a functioning administration that can exercise effective control over a large part of the country for a significant length of time. Successive efforts at bringing together the various parts of the country as part of a working central government have all too often proved chimerical. Although there are similar efforts currently underway under the auspices of the UN, the progress has largely been a far cry from the kind of effective administration that can be credited with ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the war ravaged country. While the responsibility to resolve the ongoing conflict in Somalia essentially rests on the Somalis themselves, Somalia’s predicament has been rendered even worse thanks in large measure to the unwholesome interference of some irresponsible parties which have relentlessly rooted for the further escalation of the scourge of war in the country. What the regime in Asmara has been doing the last few years is a case in point.

While the international community is accustomed to hearing of the continued carnage and a series of abortive attempts at reconstituting a semblance of functioning governance in Mogadishu, there have, however, been developments in some regions of Somalia that—though largely ignored by the international media—can serve as robust indications of the capacity of the people of Somalia to bring forth a functioning administration on their own. The impressive record that Somaliland has displayed over the last two decades in maintaining peace and stability as well as significant level of democratic governance stands out as exceptionally encouraging. Today, Somaliland has a functioning self administration that not only exercises effective state powers of maintaining peace and stability within its territory; it has also managed—against all odds one should add—to put together institutions that have contributed to the achievement of a credible political process that deserves praise. In fact, what the people of Somaliland have achieved over the last decade becomes all the more impressive in light of the volatile security situation that has invariably been characteristic of the entire region. Quite simply, Somaliland has to all intents and purposes become an example of hope in a region beset by a whirlwind of violence. All along, it has required the concerted efforts and the political will of the administration, opposition parties, civil society organizations and the people to forge the kind of working political dynamic that obtains in Somaliland.

Ethiopia attaches great importance to the excellent relations it has with the Somaliland administration and it has always been supportive of the latter’s commendable political progress. Ethiopia’s goodwill towards the people and administration of Somaliland cannot and should not be viewed separate from its enduring faith in the importance of ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the entire sub-region. Somaliland’s success—no matter how impressive it may have been—should not be taken for granted, however. In a region where sources of misunderstanding and elements of discord have never been in short supply, even the slightest of missteps could potentially play havoc with the hard-won peace and stability that have characterized Somaliland. The recent squabbles between the ruling party and the opposition over issues related with elections are thus things that need to be addressed immediately before they fester to become sources of much division in an otherwise peaceful political process in Somaliland. It is the fervent belief of the Government of the FDRE that the differences that have cropped up between the two sides can and should be addressed in a manner that ensures the credibility of Somaliland’s robust political process.

Despite the success that has been registered so far, the various stakeholders in Somaliland should take it upon themselves to do everything in their powers to further invigorate their institutions with a spirit of mutual trust and sense of responsibility. Of course, not even all of the mature democracies can boast having put in place a system that is foolproof to the tests of mutual distrust. While what its people have achieved is a source of pride and hope, there is an enduring legacy that should be borne by all stakeholders to see to it that the credibility and sustainability of their institutions are insulated from the kinds of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that have all too often ripped apart similar efforts at normalcy in other parts of Somalia.

It is also Ethiopia’s belief that, while the responsibility to seek ways out of the current impasse essentially rests on the parties and people of Somaliland, there are facilitating roles that can be played by Somaliland’s friends such as Ethiopia. It was therefore with this in mind that a high-level delegation led by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu spent nearly a week in Hargiessa as part of what will constitute a series of negotiations Ethiopia and other friends of Somaliland would help broker between the Government and the opposition parties. The delegation was satisfied with the level of goodwill displayed both by the government and the opposition parties. The agreements that have been reached after a series of discussions with the two sides have been encouraging. The parties have expressed willingness to address their differences in a civilized manner. Somaliland’s friends have also expressed their commitment to help the two sides sort their differences out. It is Ethiopia’s hope that all the parties will continue their declared commitment to seek peaceful ways out of this impasse and to honor the terms of the understanding they have reached so far.

As stated earlier, sources of misunderstanding and elements of discord are far too many in the region. That Somaliland has managed to avoid a serious pitfall thus far is nothing short of a miracle, indeed. More importantly, the people of Somaliland has way too precious asset at stake—their hard-won peace and stability—to tinker—as it were—with less-than-civil courses. Only those who sincerely go for negotiated deals can carry the day after all.


Election Ruling Rings Alarm Bells In Somaliland

HARGEISA, 26 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – A ruling that Somaliland will hold its oft-postponed presidential election without a voters’ list has prompted demonstrations, a boycott threat and warnings that the secessionist state’s relative stability is in jeopardy.

Somaliland, which unilaterally broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991, is due to go to the polls on 27 September. The poll was originally scheduled for April 2008.

In late July, President Dahir Riyale Kahin announced that he and the National Election Commission (NEC) had decided to discard a hi-tech biometric voters’ register that had recently been completed after two years of work, claiming that computer server problems had generated an unreliable list. A representative of Interpeace, a Geneva-based organisation that developed the new system and disputes the extent of the problem, was abruptly deported.

The two main opposition candidates, Faisal Ali Warabe of the Justice and Welfare Party and Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud of the Development and Solidarity Party, have threatened to boycott the election and refused to even meet Riyale unless he reconsiders his decision.

For his part, Riyale has ignored a parliamentary order to reinstate the voters’ list, whose suspension the assembly deemed illegal.

The suspension led to demonstrations by opposition supporters, the latest on 19 August in Hargeisa, the capital, with thousands of people.

“We want to show the president that we are fully committed to holding the election using the voter registration lists,” Mustafe Abdi, one of the protesters, said.

According to reports from Lasanod, at least 37 individuals have been arrested since the demonstrations began, including regional officials of the two opposition parties.

Credibility questions

Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, leader of the Union of Somaliland Journalists, said: “Everybody in Somaliland is worried about the country’s current situation. If we continue without mediation the situation could worsen and conflict could arise.”

Meanwhile, concern is mounting outside the country. The African Union’s envoy, Nicholas Bwakira, arrived in Hargeisa on 25 August and was scheduled to meet leaders of all major political parties. His visit follows that of Ethiopian Deputy Foreign Minister, Tekede Alemu.

Earlier in August, the US government expressed “profound dismay” over the registration issue. “We believe the list forms a sound basis for use in the elections scheduled for 27 September. We have directly urged President Riyale to reconsider his decision,” according to a press statement released in Nairobi.

Timothy Othieno, a regional analyst with the Overseas Development Institute, a British think-tank, told IRIN that if the minority ruling United Peoples’ Democratic Party (UDUB) went ahead with the election without the opposition, “they will have no credibility domestically and internationally and this may lead to instability. The lack of credibility may lead to pressures within Somaliland for change, which may not be attractive for Riyale both domestically and internationally.”

But he warned even under current circumstances, the election date should be maintained. “Any further delays will have denied Somalilanders an opportunity to express themselves through the ballot box. There will never be a perfect election and a consistent tradition of elections will sort out these intricacies over time. The point being that Somaliland needs to get into the habit of having regular elections even if they are not perfect.”

Three UK-based organisations invited to coordinate international observers during the elections have also sounded the alarm. In a statement released on 20 August, Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London, and Somaliland Focus (UK) expressed “deep concern” at recent developments and hinted they would pull out.

“We feel that under the current circumstances, the only possible outcome [of the election] would be seen by a significant proportion of Somalilanders as lacking legitimacy. We are therefore concerned about whether we are able to provide the coordination and observation role to which we have been committed to date, unless the situation changes markedly,” they said. Source: IRIN


Somalia: Somaliland - Don't Throw Out the Baby With the Bathwater

Abdullahi Dool, 26 August 2009, Garowe Online

The English wisdom (Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater) teaches us what is important in life; what to treasure and what to throw away. Our people in Somaliland are travelling through trying times which are testing the character of our people. I have no doubt which way they will go. There is no doubt they will pull through. However, our collective advice is to tread carefully and not allow the delaying of elections erode vital issues such as peace, cohesion and stability.

For the past 18 years there was peace and stability in Somaliland unlike most parts of our country. The government of President Dahir Riyale Kahin has been in power for 7 years since 3rd May 2002. His government's biggest achievement has been continuity and stability. This is by no means a minor achievement and our people should guard their achievement with their lives.

It is easy to condemn but nothing is ever achieved by condemning anyone. In Somaliland the election has been delayed many times owing to a number of reasons. But that is now water under the bridge. What is now important is how soon and when to hold the election without complicating matters. Moreover, there are a number of issues that need to be taken into consideration.

Patience and time are needed

Opposition parties in Somaliland who are anxious to take part in the election should also set their eyes on how to make the elections safe and without repercussions. Winning an election would be meaningless if anarchy descended. For that reason, the most important task which the opposition parties should be pressing hard for is: voter registration.

Voter registration: a must!

Without voter registration there can be no election. Voter registration is important to differentiate between voters in the registry and those who had not bothered to register so that on polling day only the registered would be allowed to vote. Also the importance of the campaign is to help plan how many voting stations and poll-workers are needed and to gauge voter turnout and so forth.

How long should it take to register voters?

The government and the opposition parties in Somaliland should jointly decide on how long it should take to register all voters eligible to vote. It is not for me to say here how long it should take but to successfully register voters may take up to 12 months.

Resources and logistics

Voter registration campaign shall require resources such as capital, manpower, and transportation. By now these issues should have been resolved. However, Somaliland needs to appeal to the world community to find funds for the campaign to register voters.

Election immediately after voter registration

Once the campaign to register voters has been concluded successfully the election itself should be held within three months. The three months limit would allow time to plan and prepare polling stations, assign and train polling-workers, invite observers etc.

Work together to achieve a peaceful election

Rather than make a lot of hoo-ha about the delay of the election which would serve no purpose, our people should work together to achieve the conduct of a peaceful and transparent election. To do so the government and the opposition parties should appoint emissaries to work out a timetable to conduct a campaign of voter registration and a date for the election itself.

Demonstrations are unhelpful

There is nothing to be had from staging demonstrations. Demonstrations can also cause instability and worse can lead to mob rule. Anyone who comes to power through staging mass demonstrations can be thrown out of power by using the same method. Demonstrations can also cause counter demonstrations and usher in a cycle of violence. The best way for opposition parties who have something to offer is through hard work and perseverance.

What would a year cost to conduct voter registration?

Haste is the work of the devil. The opposition in Somaliland will be equally blamed if things get out of hand. At least a year is now needed to conclude voter registration. The opposition would be wise to accept that it is always to the incumbent's advantage to decide when to hold an election.

An opposition party of the highest order

When it comes to the virtue of patience an opposition party which merits the highest admiration is the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) party of Zimbabwe. This is a party which has continued its journey despite having been cheated of victory for four elections. Why do it? There can be no reason other than love of country.

Why free and fair elections are important?

The aim to join politics is to serve and to help further one's society and its interests. The purpose of elections is the wish and choice of the public to reign to either retain the serving or allow the elected take the mantle. It is also to allow the transfer of power peacefully when the public have voted for a change of leadership. Those who did not win the election are required to give way and allow the incoming take the seat. This is in the best interest of the country otherwise one may make a mess of things or a mockery of one's society.

Rigging elections is un-Somali

One of the things which is never part of our character is rigging elections. The answer lies in the nature of our people. Somalis are from an open society where everything is known and nothing can be hidden. For that reason rigging elections is not only un-Somali and impossible within our society: all the more reason why the issue in dispute in Somaliland is not over rigging an election.

By now voter registration should have been concluded and the outcome of the election should have been known. However, that is not the issue now. The government should work with the opposition to establish the timetable for voter registration and the actual date for the election. The government should also find the funds and put in place the logistics to register voters. Above all, the government should show genuine willingness to conduct the election once the voters have been registered. President Dahir Riyale should be careful not to go down in history as the man who [on his watch] presided over the collapse of Somaliland. He should know better that if the country goes down there will be no power to hold on to.

We care about our people in Somaliland and we have reason to be concerned what is happening there. Elections are important. They serve to renew society and governance. However, without voter registration there are pitfalls which make holding elections impossible. There is no way of knowing voters and the number of voters which is a major requirement for holding elections.

Somaliland has always been proud to conduct its affairs by itself within its confines without outside involvement. Governments in the region and the world community can only do so much to help those who throw their own country into the furnace. A year and three months is a small price to pay for the wellbeing of one's country and society. Our people should be careful not to jeopardize their achievement. They should work together (government, opposition and the public) to pave the way to a peaceful and transparent election. Somaliland should tread carefully not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Somaliland should pull itself from the precipitous!

Finally, we have a message here for individual Somalis who hate Somaliland. He is a moron who does not know what Somalis mean to one another. It goes without saying that the wellbeing of Somaliland is the wellbeing of every Somali and the message for those who love unity among Somalis is: Unity cannot come by wishing ill to our brothers and sisters in Somaliland. Unity will come one day when we have a government and a leadership which can make possible Somalis from different communities and backgrounds living side by side in peace and harmony working together to further our nation, its interests and wellbeing. Our people in Somaliland should be commended, not vilified, for administering themselves over a long period of time when there was only mayhem and anarchy in much of the rest of our country.


SOMALILAND: CPJ concerned about crackdown on independent media

August 25, 2009. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for an end to an ongoing government crackdown on independent journalists in Somaliland.

On Sunday, the Sahil regional court in the costal city of Berbera sentenced the editor-in-chief of the online publication Berberanews, Mohamed Said, in absentia to three years in jail on defamation charges, according to local journalists. Said has been in hiding since mid-August. Judge Osman Ibrahim read a letter that claimed Berberanews published articles that “spread scandals” against local officials, the National Union of Somali Journalists reported. The verdict banned the Web site from operating in Somaliland for an indefinite period. Local journalists told CPJ that Said plans to appeal the verdict.

The regional court ruling also banned Yasin Jama, a contributor to Berberanews, from practicing journalism until further notice from the court. Local police arrested Jama and detained him for 10 days with no official charges, local journalists told CPJ. Police accused Jama of defamation after he posted two opinion pieces, not written by him, that accused local officials of misusing public funds to support a local political party.

“Somaliland authorities must end this crackdown on independent reporting,” said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “We call on the authorities to drop the charges against Yasin Jama immediately and on the court of appeals to overturn the verdict against Mohamed Said.”

Police in the northwestern town of Burao have been holding private Radio Horyaal journalist Fowsi Suleiman since August 3 for a story that accused local Governor Jama Abdillahi of embezzlement, local journalists told CPJ. Fowsi has been detained without charge or brought to court for 21 days despite the 48-hour limit for detentions without charge permitted under Somaliland law. Repeated calls to Abdillahi went unanswered.

On August 17, four relatives of the chairman of the ruling party beat Ali Adan, a reporter for Horn Cable TV and Radio Horyaal, with sticks in Erigabo, a city in northeastern Somalia. According to Horn Cable TV Director Abdu Hakim, the chairman of the ruling party in Erigayo had threatened him three days earlier for covering recent political rallies. Adan told CPJ he has been released from the hospital but was still recovering from injuries. Police reportedly arrested the four relatives but the governor released them the next day.

The semi-autonomous republic is preparing for presidential elections on September 27.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.


Opposition Parties Position Letter

HARGEISA, 24 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – It is difficult to imagine a situation where the same problem keeps reoccurring, and the same failed solution keeps being applied time and again. At some point lessons need to be learned and the lunacy of repeating the same experiment and expecting different results must come to an end. It is our contention that the moment is long overdue but has finally arrived!

We categorically reject the following demands for:-

1. Creating a new Voter List; election to be postponed again (third time) and a new election date be determined by a new Technical Team yet to be named; refusing Interpeace to be reinstated.

2. President’s term to be extended once again to match new election date.

3. Retaining the current Election Commissioners.

These demands if accepted will lead to the same predictable outcome, that will produce further inevitable delays that would necessitate once again for the president to ask for more time in office, and we find that condition simply intolerable. We believe it is time for the other side to accept his responsibilities and duties to the country and the International community and honor his previous commitments and existing laws.

We strongly believe that the country will be better served if competing political parties are required to meet the same standard and are held accountable for their actions when there is clear evidence of wrong doing as the current situation illustrates.

We are committed to see that: -

1. Elections should take place on the 27th of September 2009 and no further delays or extensions to the president’s term should be considered. This clause was accepted and signed by the three parties when the term of the president was extended last time.

2. Interpeace should be reinstated and the introduction of a new technical team at this late stage of the game is deemed unnecessary and possibly harmful to the process.

3. The existing Voter List which was certified and approved as a valid list by Interpeace and an independent third party technical expert should be used to undertake the election.

It should be noted that the agreed code of conduct (signed by all three parties and NEC) stipulates that once the Voter List is presented to the parties, it should be accepted as it is.

4. The resolution by the NEC chair [with the support of the President] to hold elections without the Voter List violates Somaliland laws and established code of conduct. By consulting only with the president who is a candidate in this election, the NEC subverted existing law which mandates “that any modification of the registration process shall be approved through the agreement of NEC and the political parties”. (Voter Registration Act Art. 1, q).

This ill- fated decision violates the independence of NEC as an electoral authority and has no foundation since there is already a valid Voter List available. Therefore it is imperative that they be replaced with new members who can fulfill their duties without the burden of incompetence or blatant bias toward one entity (the president.)

5. If elections are not held in a timely fashion and according to the agreed date (27th of September, 2009) president Rayale’s term will end and a new neutral body (a care-taking government) must take the responsibility of running the government and overseeing a presidential election within sixty (60) days (27 Sept. to 29 November). The mandate of this body will end as soon as the elections are over and a winner is declared.

Given the track record of this president, past behavior is a good indicator of future actions. Therefore we resolve that it is time to acknowledge the reality on the ground and forgo the illusions and the empty promises that perhaps this time the president will come to his senses, that maybe he won’t renege on binding agreements yet again, or ignore the laws of the land when it suits him.

We call on the long standing friends of this beloved land of ours to stand with us and resist tyranny and the regressive conditions of one man’s rule in Somaliland.

Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, Chairman Of KULMIYE Party ..

Mr Faisal Ali Warabe, Chairman Of UCID Party


Somalia: Somaliland VP receives UN drug czar

HARGEISA, Somalia Aug 23 (Garowe Online) - The vice president of Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland has welcomed a United Nations delegation to Hargeisa, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, the vice president of Somaliland, held a meeting with Mr. Antonio Maria Costa in the administrative capital Hargeisa on Saturday, according to a government press release.

Mr. Costa is the executive-director of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to the press release, the two officials discussed cooperation on a range of issues, including counterterrorism and piracy in the Horn of Africa.

Somaliland's vice president thanked the UN delegation's visit to Hargeisa, while underscoring that Somaliland authorities are ready assist the UN in the war against drugs and crime.

Vice President Yasin informed Mr. Costa and the visiting UN delegation that Somaliland courts have sentenced 35 pirates to jail terms between 10 and 20 years in prison.


Somaliland: Brutal Murders Shatter Harmony

August 20, 2009(Awdalnews.com). On the evening of July 11, 2009 (7/11), 24 men clad in army uniforms and armed with automatic rifles parked their vehicles on the Dila-Kalabaydh road near Xuunshalay and started intercepting vehicles travelling on the Hargeisa-Borama road. All together they stopped 8 vehicles with 17 unarmed travelers on board. The abductors ordered the travelers to get off their vehicles, surrender keys for the vehicles, cell phones and money. Some of those abducted fled under the cover of the darkness. The rest were transported to the headquarters at Ceel Bardaale where four were brutally murdered after mid night. The four dead bodies and those spared from death were later retrieved by the Somaliland Minister for Interior, Abdillahi Cirro and the Commandant of National Army, Nuh Tani. The perpetrators of the crime are still at large.

As those who either fled or were spared from death later recounted, the abductees reminded the abductors that they did not have anything to do with Ceel Bardaale, a contested piece of real estate. To which the abductors responded that they did not really care because to them a Gadabursi is a Gadabursi regardless of his sub-clan affiliation.

According to those who saw the dead bodies, the four died from gun shots wounds. There were also severe wounds on their bodies from sharp instruments most likely the bayonets attached to the killers’ guns. Their throats were slit and the severity of the wounds made it difficult for the bodies to be recognized. The victims’ names are: 1. Ali Bagaashle-- Businessman.
2. Daud Hashi ------Engineer.
3. Mawlid------------Technician.
4. Ali Sheikh Omar—Educator.

They were all well known and well respected in Borama. I had the privilege of being a classmate of one of them, Ali Sheikh Omar, during the first 11 years of our schooling at Borama and Amoud schools. He was good student and decent, pious man. He was living in Hargeisa with his family when he was brutally murdered while working hard to support his family.

The brutal, politically motivated murders shattered the pristine image of Somaliland as an oasis of peace and social harmony, qualities that set her apart from the chaotic and violence riddled Somalia. How then can this senseless violence be explained? Why did it take place at the Dila-Kalabaydh road? Why were the victims of Gadabursi origin? Why did it happen in 2009?

There has been long standing Kulmiye Party’s malevolence towards Awdal region. As was stated in a recent Awdalnews editorial, Kulmiye party’s grand political strategy has been to erect a wedge between the Issaq electorate and the Gadabursi in an effort to rally the Isaaq electorate behind the party. There is strong circumstantial evidence that supports this claim: the party’s calculated emphasis of the SNM struggle and their derisive use of the term “Faqash” to refer to those from Awdal who did not participate in that struggle; its desire to see the voting power of the region diluted as stipulated in the party platform; and its continuous promotion and exaggeration of the land and jurisdictional dispute between the Habar Awal and Gadabursi. The chairman of the party, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo never misses an opportunity over the last several years to cast the people of Awdal in a bad light. Last spring he told an audience in the seaside city of Berbera that those who were given amnesty (meaning the Gadabursi) should not be allowed to hold certain offices. A year ago he told a graduating class that “we are being governed by those who were killing us in the 1980s”- statement unbecoming for someone who aspires to be the leader of every body.

The first sign of the trouble being caused by the inflammatory party rhetoric became clear in June 2007 at soccer match at Hargeisa stadium between Burao and Borama teams, when the team members from Borama were booed and heckled. There were press accounts of some boys who suffered wounds inflicted by stones. A subsequent basket ball game between Hargeisa and Borama was cancelled for fear of the safety of the team from Borama.

Political leaders do not need to shoot their opponents themselves. All they need is to use codes to communicate to their supporters so that the dirty work is carried on their behalf. Violence instigated by the Kulmiye party rhetoric was expected; only the degree of savagery of the recent killing was shocking.

While for decades Ceel Bardaale has been a legitimately contested piece of real estate, in the parlance of Kulmiye party it is used as a euphemism for a nefarious political tactic designed to incite blood shed between the Habar Awal and Gadabursi people with the expectation that a war between the two groups would flood crucial voters into the ranks of the party.

Several months ago, the Chairman of the Upper House ( Guurti), Suleiman Adan ( Gaal) who shares the same pedigree with, and is a political ally of, Kulmiye party chief Ahmed Silaanyo nominated a committee of his House who are party loyalists, and known vocal opponents of President Dahir Rayale Kahin, to ostensibly mediate on the same issue at Ceel Bardaale that their party has been nurturing as potential flash point of violence. The composition of the committee and its voting behavior is as follows:

Name ------------------------ Clan/subclan
------------------------------------------ Remarks
1. Maxamed Maxamoud Diiriye Isaaq/H/Jeclo Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
2- Caydiid Cabdi Maxamed. Isaaq/H/Jeclo Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
3- Sahal Iidle Dirir Isaaq/H/Jeclo Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
4- Cawil C/laahi Caydiid. Dhulbahante Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
5- Maxamed/weli Warsame cali Dhulbahante Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
6- Cumar Nuur Xasan Isaaq/H/yonis Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
7- Maxamed Xuseen Huurshe Warsangeli Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
8- Sh.Maxamuud Xirsi Faarax Ciise Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
9- Jaamac Faarax Axmed Isaaq/ Arab Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
10-Xasan Axmed Faarax Isaaq/.Ciise Muuse Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009
11- C/laahi Aadan Beegsi Issaq/Ayuub Voted to remove Rayale from power on March 29, 2009

It is common for Guurti members to mediate and diffuse tensions between the people. But this particular Guurti committee was formed to inflame tensions and incite blood shed. The committee exceeded its mandate to mediate and in an unprecedented manner adjudicated and ruled the issue in favor of one side. The leaders of those who committed the recent heinous murders took the unholy verdict of the above Guurti members as an authoritative license to commit the crime.

Just two weeks ago, when the blood of the victims was still wet, members of the Guurti committee issued a statement declaring

(1) their decision regarding Ceel Bardaale ought to be implemented

(2) the list of voters from the disputed registration drive should be used as the basis of the election. Ceel Bardaale, which is basically a very local land dispute - and there many others across the country- has become a top political priority for the Kulmiye party. While their main constituency is safely established in eastern Togdheer and western Sanaag regions, Kulmiye party is determined to incite the Gadabursi and Habar Awal to kill each other like two pit bulls being led to maul and tear each other to pieces. It defies credulity that high ranking officials of one political party are openly calling, in a broad light, for two communities to go and kill each other!

Fortunately, 64 members of the Upper Houses ( Guurti) condemned the unholy decision of the above committee, disassociated themselves from that decision and decried the unwise, politically motivated action of Suleiman Gaal. The full House declared that they will be neutral in all the disputes and earn again the trust of the citizens by not aligning themselves with any political party.

If Kulmiye party expected political dividend from the blood shed, they must have been disappointed. The heinous murders provoked unprecedented outpouring of sympathy from across the country towards the grieving people of Awdal. Elders and clerics from Las Anod, Erigavo, western Buao, Odweyne, Berbera, and Hargeisa poured into Borama to express their sympathy and condolence over the killing. According to reliable sources representatives of east Burao, the main base of Kulmiye party, was the only one that did not send any delegates. Awdal is gratified by this outpouring of sympathy and solidarity. This is the people of Somaliland we have come to know and admire for the last 20 years.

In its zealous quest to unseat President Rayale, Kulmiye party leaders have considerably deviated from the norms of political campaigns and engaged in activities that have seriously undermined the country:

(1) domestically, their commitment to incite internecine wars have shattered the harmony that Somaliland has enjoyed for the past two decades

(2) Somaliland’s external image has suffered greatly. Kulmiye was the principal perpetrator of fraud during the registration effort which the western world had invested $20 million. It is difficult to see how the Somaliland can regain the trust of the rich democracies, which were warming towards Somaliland. As an influential Somaliland group of business leaders in Abu Dhabi alluded to in a statement just released, Kulmiye has put its self interest before that of the Somaliland people and the country.

What Kulmiye does not understand is that the consequences of their activities may be uncontrollable and not to their liking. General Mohamed Farah Aideed once moved to Villa Somalia, installed himself as the president without obtaining the wide support of all the people in Mogadishu, unleashing social forces that resulted today in Wahabi Al Shabab group, inclined to behead their adversaries, to control most of the country. The genie that Kulmiye lets out of the bottle may not be to their liking. Already, some members of the overseas Awdal communities are expressing a desire to boycott the businesses believed to be extending unlimited financial resources to Kulmiye especially DAHABSHIIL, the money transfer company. They argue that the dollar they are paying to send money is being used to endanger the existence of their people, corrupt the political system and destroy the country.

The only predictable consequence, which will benefit the lives of the people and enhance the image of the country, is to engage in peaceful democratic activities. If this is deviated from, as Kulmiye party is doing, the consequences will not benefit anybody including Kulmiye party officials and their supporters. They are naïve if they believe they will be the sole beneficiary of the crisis they create.

Adan H Iman is based in Los Angeles. He is a regular contributor to Awdalnews Network.


Deep concern at prospect of one-party race in Somaliland presidential vote

www.progressio.org.uk. August 20th, 2009, PRESS RELEASE for immediate release

**Deep concern at prospect of one-party race in Somaliland presidential vote, international election observation coordinators say**

The UK-based team coordinating election observers for the forthcoming presidential elections in the internationally unrecognised Republic of Somaliland has expressed its “deep concern” at political developments in the run-up to the much-delayed vote scheduled for 27 September 2009.

Progressio, the Development Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK say in a joint statement: “In recent weeks, two of the three political parties in Somaliland have announced their intention to boycott the vote. While we remain committed to the need for an election as soon as possible, under the current circumstances the only possible outcome of a one-party race would be seen by a significant proportion of Somalilanders as lacking legitimacy.”

The statement continues: “We are therefore concerned about whether we are able to provide the coordination and observation role to which we have been committed to date, unless the situation changes markedly.”

The coordination team also urges stakeholders in Somaliland to come together to solve the “critical dilemma” surrounding the elections and calls on the country’s National Electoral Commission to ensure all political actors and parties who have demonstrated a commitment to participation in the electoral process are actively engaged as participants.

The UK-based team was invited to lead the election observation mission by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission in January. The team has been tasked with coordinating international election observers from four continents and preparing a report on the conduct of the campaign and poll following the vote. Support for the mission is being provided by the UK government.

Somaliland has long stood out as a “remarkable example of indigenous democracy in a corner of Africa that possesses more than its share of problems,” the statement notes. It concludes: “Somaliland has a number of unparalleled opportunities to improve its standing internationally and domestically, with a successful presidential election standing as an essential next step on that path.”

To read the full text of the joint statement, see: http://www.progressio.org.uk/progressio/internal/98220/deep_concern_at_prospect_of_one_party_race_in_soma/

*Notes to editors*

1. For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the coordination team, contact: Jo Barrett, Media Officer, Progressio, London on +44 (0)7940 703911 or jo@progressio.org.uk
2. Somaliland’s Presidential elections have been repeatedly delayed, including polling days in December 2008 and on 29 March 2009.
3. Somaliland is situated in Somalia’s northwest. It declared unilateral independence from the failed Somali state in 1991 and has since been a haven of relative peace whilst violence and instability has characterised Somalia, its capital Mogadishu and more recently the Gulf of Aden.
4. Progressio’s involvement in the mission follows its leadership of the international monitoring team for Somaliland’s inaugural parliamentary elections in 2005, judged by observers as “basically free and fair”.
5. Progressio has been working with local communities in Somaliland since 1995 by placing skilled workers with local organisations specialising in advocating for the rights of women, youth and people with disabilities as well as supporting basic health service provision and people living with HIV and AIDS. Progressio also actively supports progress towards democratisation and stabilising the country.

Jo Barrett, jo@progressio.org.uk


Anti-government Protests Begin in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 20 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Hundreds of people have taken part in an anti-government demonstration in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland as part of what opposition parties say will be a day of protest across the country.

The protesters are waving anti-government slogans and chanting “Down Rayaale Down” in all the streets in the Sha’ab area where most of the governmental offices are located. Hundreds of security forces were put on standby and available across the city.

Although it is too early, no gunshots are heard so far and despite the huge number of protesters there are no clashes between the police and those demonstrating.

The opposition leaders are expected to give speech at the Khayria part later in the day addressing their supporters about issues concerning elections and corruption.

This comes when a high level delegation from Ethiopia arrived the country yesterday. The Ethiopian Minister of State for Foreign affairs of Ethiopia came to Somaliland yesterday in a trip some said he will try to mediate between the two sides. Other delegations from the European countries are also expected in the coming few days.

So far, no reports from the other regions if such demonstrations took place or not. Somalilandpress will update you shorty about any developments to the issue.


The Turmoil of Somaliland Political arena

http://somalilandpress.com/ Aug 20, 2009. The play witnessed after the expulsion Interpeace in early August offered a glimpse into the expected explosive debate the upcoming campaign will show.

All but one, who participated greatly the heated debates, was abroad. The lead actors on the government side included, president Rayale, foreign minister abdillahi duale, finance minister Awil, public works Saeed and recently promoted presidency minister Hassan Ma’alin.

Leading opposition offensive were, Faisal Ali Warabe, Mohamed Rashid, Ahmed Sillanyo, Kayse Hassan, Abdiasize Samale. The outsider was the articulate intellectual Kulmiye’s secretary of state Dr. Mohamed Omar. With the benefit of sharpening their debating skills of political arenas, regardless of their ideas this group put up energetic and vivacious show.

The opposition leaders miserably failed to produce: like mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate who officially lost last month’s Iran presidential election, who announced his intention to create a “large-scale social movement” to oppose the government and press for a more open political system.

President Rayaale, after seven years being the top seat in Somaliland and successive defeat of his political foes but now it looks as if the age of untouchable UDUB government conceivably is closing.

Dr. Mohamed Rashid, the vice president candidate of UCID party argued convincingly, that the current government is not only, “out of touch but also whose thinking is beyond the known Somaliland philosophical and political consensus”.

Faisal is leading the opposition alliance at least in the eyes of the ordinary people. He electrified the opposition supporters and jetted both Nairobi and Addis ababa to persuade the merits of his argument and the international community warmly welcomed him at least for a while

When Richard Holbrooke was negotiating with Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic to the Balkan war in the mid 90s he earned his nickname, “the bulldozer”, by threatening to bomb Serbia if Milosevic did not come to the bargaining table and unlike Holbrooke faisal is determined to force the current Government to either accept the voter list and electoral commission reform or public rallies and house impeachment will show them the door but only time will tell whether he will earn “the bulldozer” or not.

His well attended press conferences and highly prepared speeches made his political foes sleepless. he electrified the race, inspired and energised many voters.

Though the foreign minister countered two press conferences, one interior and one president held but so far the Government is losing the battle of minds and hearts of both ingenuous people and the international community.

Last week the House of Representatives held stormy debates characterized by innuendo, emotional outbursts, witch-hunting and rumours but finally, the opposition dominated house defeated the Government supported MPs with ease and the August House once again, Passed a resolution which was critical both the president and, the loathed and besieged national electoral commission and went short of promising impeachment.

More over, despite the horrendous challenges that Chairman Faisal faces, he is indisputably the most imperative leader around, more secure, more articulate and more politically savvy then any of the two others.

To be credible, the opposition parties have to create a frame work which their alliance will work and the ways and means and their methodology.

President Rayaale’s untimely, ill-advised and marvel invitation was skilfully calculated merely buying time to let the national anger and uncertainty dissipate before he could take a harder line.

Finally, the opposition parties should be realistic enough and they should ensure the acceptance of the voter list as per published by Interpeace and the reform of National Electoral Commission but they should also payback limited extension of president and vice president term. They need to lead rallies from the front and to champion the rights weak, underprivileged and the populace at large. Stakes are high and the country is in crisis.

Yassin abdillahi ahmed, yassin_abdillahi@hotmail.com, Hargeisa, Somaliland.


Drought fuelling rural exodus in Somaliland

Source: IRIN, August 17, 2009 Some rains have fallen in northern Somalia, but this has not stopped an exodus of drought-affected people from rural areas to urban centres in Somaliland, local officials said.

“We know that hundreds of thousands have [been] displaced to urban centres,” said Abdihakim Garaad Mohamoud, Deputy Minister at the Somaliland Ministry of Resettlement, Reintegration and Rehabilitation.

“Every city in Somaliland has a huge number of displaced people because of the recent drought,” he added. “It has affected 60 percent of the rural population, whether they are pastoralists or agro-pastoralists. From east to west, south to north, every place in Somaliland has been affected.”

Across towns in the self-declared republic, such as Burao, Berbera, Erigavo, Las’anod and Badhan, temporary shelters have sprouted as rural dwellers arrive from the countryside.

“The government has planned to deal with the problem, but our capacity is limited,” Mohamoud told IRIN in Hargeisa. “Sixty percent of animals have been lost. One [man] who had 200 sheep has lost 110-120, and one who had 20 camels lost half.”

The governor of Togdheer region, Jama Abdillahi Warsame, said his government, with local NGOS, was trucking water to 78 villages.

“We estimate [that] more than 8,000 people moved to Burao [the main livestock market town] from rural areas,” he told IRIN.

He named the most vulnerable districts in Togdheer region as Hod, Ina Afmadobe, War-Imran, Ilka-Cadays, Bali-Hiile, Suryo, Lebi-Guun, Adow Yurura, Isku Dhoon, in Burou and Qoryale, as well as Qori Dheere in Ainabo districts of Sool region.

Late rains

The deputy minister said some rains had started in most of Somaliland, but the emergency was continuing. Prices of food, for example, had remained high.

“Some rain has started, but animals and people are so weak and [may not be] able to survive the wet situation,” he added. “We are calling on the international community to help the drought-affected people.”

Business people in the port city of Berbera said sugar prices had increased by about 70 percent in the past few weeks.

Mohamed Ahmed Imbir, owner of a food store in Berbera, told IRIN: “We were selling one sack of sugar at US$28, but now we are selling for $34.” He did not know why prices had risen.

On 22 June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) warned that the drought in Somalia’s central region had extended northwards into the key pastoral areas of the Sool plateau, Nugaal valley, and Hawd livelihood zones.

The situation threatened more than 700,000 pastoralists and a significant number of urban households, whose income and food sources are strongly linked to livestock marketing and trade.


Ambassador Marika Fahlen Terms Rayale’s decision “unwise”

LONDON, United Kingdom (Somaliland Globe 17 August 2009)- Ambassador Marika Fahlen, Swedish Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, dubbed Rayale’s decision to hold the forthcoming presidential election in Somaliland without voter registration list as “unwise”.

In an interview with Hiiraan Online, Ambassador Fahlen said that her country, which currently holds the EU presidency, support an election through voter registration list and that Somaliland needs “a step further of the last election where there was no voter registration”.

“We think the president has taken an unwise decision and we hope he will reverse his decision and return to what is international standard for elections,” said Ambassador Fahlen.

She said although Sweden supports the election to take place on 27 September as planned, the current political crisis prevailing in Somaliland is making it increasingly difficult to hold it as scheduled.

“If this is allowed to continue there is a risk that Somaliland’s reputation to democratize itself and hold elections will fall over the cliff and that will not be good for Somaliland,” she added.

Somaliland’s last presidential election was one of “the most closely fought of its kind on the African continent”, with Rayale retaining his office by a razor thin margin of 80 votes. KULMIYE, the main opposition party initially cried foul but after exhausting its appeal accepted the result. Since then there was a dire need for systematic and comprehensive registration of voters in preparation for future elections in Somaliland.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has since embarked on a comprehensive registration of voters with technical and financial assistance from the EU donors however when the final voter list was produced by Interpeace, the agency in charge for digital Voter List Production, the NEC and president Rayale rejected the list as a credible basis for the holding of free and fair elections.

President Rayale unilaterally decided to expel Interpeace from the country and hold the presidential election without voter list. The NEC acquiesced with the president’s decision but this was rejected out of hand by opposition parties, KULMIYE and UCID, which saw it as contrary to the Somaliland Electoral Law and flies in the face of the consensual agreement between the political parties.

A parliamentary resolution passed on 11th August called for the president to reverse his decision within 7 days or else face impeachment.


A crucial Week for Somaliland: A time for Action

Maxamed Rashiid Sh. Xasan, August 15, 2009, http://harowo.com/

Today Somaliland is passing through a critical period since its existence as a separate state. First, there is a president and his regime whose priority is to remain in power, whatever it costs, the president’s term in office was extended several times and now the president is entertaining the illusion of getting another extension. It is apparent that the president and his advisors never take seriously their responsibility that they are the servants of the people and they are in power because of constitutional reasons. Their action, purpose and intend have been geared to frustrate other stakeholders, such as the parliament and the political parties.

They also do not give the attention required by law and ethics of governance to give attention to the interest and feelings of the people.

Here is a president and his aides who are out of touch of the Somaliland unique present situation in terms of history, international context and above all a society urging for regime change.

Second, there are opposition political parties who have been patient for a long time with the present regime. The opposition parties accepted several times the almost unconstitutional extension for the regime for the sake of the Somaliland people. Furthermore, the opposition parties feel strongly that there are no national partner to deal with, but instead a president and a regime whose thinking is beyond the known Somaliland philosophical and political consensus. Now this regime who has worn “a dictatorship coat” disregards any other argument and idea.

The opposition parties have been pushed to the wall and God knows what their final actions would be if the president does not listen and return to the legality.

Third, we have a society (Somaliland) who is not fully aware of their constitutional rights and who are not equipped consciously, educationally and economically to pursue their rights. For example, they seem to be not ready to come forward to fight for their rights that the present regime of Somaliland has denied of them for a long time.

Today a unique opportunity has appeared for the people of Somaliland. It is the first time that the parliament has taken a courageous move and action to restore the law of the country. The parliament has to be congratulated but that is not enough. The people of Somaliland both inside and outside the country have to come together to give full support to the parliament’s action and to say no to the president’s tricks to sabotage the constitution of the country.

Today the population of Somaliland is divided into two main forces:

(1) Democratic force fighting for regime change, good governance, maintaining for peace and working for the recognition of Somaliland and that Somaliland gets its right place in the community of nations;

(2) Dark force who are undemocratic, ridden with clan self-centred reactionary ideology, selfishness and political and economical interests. These forces are preoccupied with the advancement of their economical interests and with retaining power, by all means, regardless the consequences of their actions.

The future of Somaliland is in balance. It is the time that the people of Somaliland should wake up and give support to the opposition parties so that the people’s vision of Somaliland be realized. This week is a crucial week for the history of our people. Either we will regret the opportunity that we have missed or we will push our rights to achieve what our people deserve, which is a free and fair election and that the election must take place as it was fixed on the 27th of September and that we have a new government and new rulers.


Somaliland Government Controlled Media Used To Incite Extremism

http://www.somalilandglobe.com/15 August 2009 | Op-Ed. The opposition in Somaliland has long been complaining from what has become modus operandi for the ruling party, the unrestricted use of the government controlled media to vilify anyone who voices criticism at government policies.

Attempts by the opposition parties and the lawmakers to enforce laws that limit ruling party’s misuse of the media for political purposes in the days and months leading to elections in the past had only fallen on deaf ears.

Lately, however, the government’s use of the media has been taking a dangerous turn. Riyale government has used the media against domestic political targets in the past accusing senior opposition officials of colluding and even belonging to radical Islamic groups in Somalia. In one such incident a former member of the National Election Commission who later joined KULMIYE party was detained and held in prison for a month without trial being falsely accused by the Interior Minister of belonging to Al-Shabab.

Recently charges leveled against the two Horyaal Media reporters, who were held in jail for nearly a month, included the use of the media to “encourage murder” similar “to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda”. The prosecutors in their failed bid at the court accused the reporters for sharing responsibility for the deaths of four innocent travelers who were murdered in Western Somaliland. Of course these accusations were politically motivated and would not stand a chance in a fair court of justice.

As Riyale administration continues to corner itself with its recent decision to expel Interpeace and continued attempt to suspend the voter registration list, it is facing isolation not only from within Somaliland but also from the international governments that would like to see democracy take root in the troubled regions in the Horn of Africa. Its response to the concerns expressed by foreign diplomats, just as it has been painting the opposition in the past, is to blame Interpeace and representatives of western countries as the “enemies of Somaliland”. The latter is also accused of “interfering in our internal affairs” for voicing concern regarding the new obstacles Riyale placed in the path of democracy in Somaliland.

The government controlled media as usual has paraded paid individuals to speak against and angrily criticize what it calls “foreign intervention”. This dangerous and narrow minded use of the public media is bordering criminality and may have severe consequences for Somaliland should fringe elements within the society use it to justify its causes. Radical individuals who are sympathetic to the religious extremists in Somalia certainly welcome anything that stirs hostility against foreigners which makes their job of recruiting youngsters into their ranks easier. A responsible government would not forget that it has been less than a year ago when suicide bombers targeted Hargeisa killing more than 30 civilians. This type of incitement on national media against “foreigners” could be used to justify more attacks on Somalis and non-Somalis alike.


Building Bridges for Somaliland University Students Inside and Outside the Country

HARGEISA, 12 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – It is widely acknowledged that one of the fundamental pillars of sustainable human development is investment in education of a good quality. On 10th august 2009, SONYO umbrella organized a meeting for the University students inside and outside the country. Truly it is a colossal achievement to be proud of and one of milestones of our success as Somaliland university students inside and outside the country. It is a signal of enhancement that enables as young students to contribute fully in our education to our society and the world at large.

The ceremony took place at Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa. A number of university students inside and outside Somaliland were seen in the ceremony hall and the corridors of the hotel. The ceremony opened with Holly Koran recitation by one of the students. After that the chairperson of SONYO umbrella started the speech and talked about the importance of such meetings. He indicated the necessity of exchanging experience with their local people to contribute for the development of the country. Though in Somaliland the importance of young graduates were not recognized by our society, but the growing influence of young graduates like this meeting is bearing out the community that our voices should be heard. Having said that, young students will not be passionate, creative and innovative unless their societies understand they have the potential to improve their country socially, economically and politically.

He also urged the foreign based students to have close friends to their host nations to establish a sustainable relationship which will ultimately be beneficial to our country. Somaliland Minster of internal affairs was invited to the stage, he told those who are studying abroad to respect the rules and the regulations of their host countries as they are ambassadors of their country. If you behave the people you live with good character, it is good for us. Other wise will spoil the name of your country. Later on, the session begun with presentation by different students from different universities in abroad.

One of the Somaliland students in Malaysia started the presentation with the overview of Malaysian education. He told to the participants that Malaysia education is 70 owned by the public while the private universities are 30 percents. Apart from that, he compared the Malaysian universities with the local universities. That presenter indicated that Malaysian universities have facilities unlike Somaliland universities. Namely teaching methods and also what is known E- facilities such as, libraries. The presenter enlightened deeply the social problems faced Somaliland students in Malaysia including social –economic adaptability, financial problems, temptations, Isolations; Racism and Environmental issues were most challenges encountered students in Malaysia.

Secondly, a lady graduated from Kenya Institute of Managements who presented her experience of the education in East-Africa. That sister mentioned that there are 13 students in Uganda who were awarded Scholarship by the Somaliland government. She put in plain words the faculties provided by East African universities, Such as Social Science namely Development studies and Social work and Social administration. And this has contributed to finishing their studies successfully. There are also challenges in those students in terms of culture difference, food and behavior. Language barrier and ineffective student association was also another major obstacle. There are also presentations made by Somaliland student in Yemen, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Ethiopia and in the local. Besides the presentation on achievement and challenges, the Somaliland student in abroad highlighted to contribute their country Education, Patriotism and hard work.

The message is clear; the expansion of employment opportunity is far below the growth in the higher education graduates because of a lack of investment. Unfortunately Somaliland government is not putting higher graduate concerns at the heart of their development agenda, and still more remains to be done. Young students need access to both decent formal education and opportunities to acquire employment to actively participate in all spheres of development in their society. Young graduates in Somaliland struggle the transition from university to work. These major challenges caused that many young graduates up either unemployed or underemployed in the informal sector with little protection and prospects.

Let us remember the wisdom says, “Student are like young plants, they need to be cared for if you take good care of your plants, you will have strong plants and a good harvest. It is the same with students, if you look after them”

Our motto “Together we can make difference”

Written by: Farhan Abdi Suleiman (oday)


Somalia: Somaliland's president rejects parliament pressure

HARGEISA, Somalia Aug 12 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland has rejected pressure from lawmakers to re-consider the upcoming presidential election, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Hassan "Mo'allim" Ahmed, Somaliland's acting minister of the presidency, told a Wednesday press conference in the capital Hargeisa that the House of Representatives "should focus on their own job."

"They [House of Representatives] have no legal right to interfere in the affairs of the [Somaliland] election commission," Mr. Mo'allim said.

Somaliland opposition parties Kulmiye and UCID have been openly critical of the election commission after accusing its members of being closely associated with President Riyale's administration.

Kulmiye opposition party leaders have declared that the party "lost confidence" in the election commission. Further, the two opposition parties have not kicked off the election campaign ahead of the September 27 presidential election, while the ruling UDUB party began the official campaign last week.


Africa’s best-kept secret “Somaliland” is in need for a change!

HARGEISA, 12 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Peace is the only priceless jewel invested and deposited in the hearts and minds of Somaliland people; it is the biggest jackpot that the nation ever won all at once; it is the national treasury that the entire people young/old guards with love and passion every moment in their life.

However, any external annihilation or internal implosion at the cost of this priceless living system would never ever be accepted from anyone at all, Udub, Ucid or Kulmiye. Somaliland is by the people; for the people, and her generations would not pay any price or bear any burden that its politicians may dictate. It really needs a change in many aspects, politically, economically, socially etc. President Rayale must believe in that this change is imminent, must and irreversible. It is a great saying__ the true visionary is one who thinks about tomorrow in an intelligent imaginative manner. Using the same metaphor, if Udub cannot predict about the impact of this standoff on the country at large, what they have in a store for us!

The fresh political dispute on Somaliland Election Process has sparked a wide range of anger, anxiety, and insecurity after the news came that the president, fulfilling a so-called plea by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (SNEC) has apparently expelled the donor-organisation (Inter-peace) from the country and accordingly nullified the long awaited results of the national voters’ registration list.

This has invited a strong expostulation from the two chairpersons of the two houses together with the opposition political parties (Ucid and Kulmiye), but Mr. Rayale has opted to remain extremely deviant about their collective objections and disgustingly uttered not only unwise but undiplomatic provocative words that could possibly create political frictions between him and the other two opposition parties. Rayale’s harsh words depict how Africa’s malignant power-hunger virus (dictatorship) has metastasised into his body. In today’s situation, we can understand that Somaliland known as “Africa’s best kept secret” is in an intense need for rescue operation from its leadership.

By not rhapsodizing, Ucid and Kulmiye have taken together the best way this toddler country would survive and insisted not to accept taking a part in elections without concurrent voter registration. The revealed number of the ultimate voters’ list by the SNEC, although not correct__ perhaps, this may make the election process a lot more credible and transparent. Without shadow of doubt, lack of transparency and clarity is what moves forward Rayale’s political vehicle and this is the reason behind fighting for that.

Seven years under Rayale’s authority__ Somaliland has experienced unprecedented levels of corruption, economic destructions, scarcity of clean water and prolonged droughts etc, which is why the people no longer have stomach for Rayale as commander in chief. The corruptive hand of the government in the SNEC is not new but was since its inception and this failure is the outcome of a pre-planned conspiracy between Mr. Rayale and those at the helm in Somaliland National Electoral Commission body.

It is obviously very tough to get one’s faith unless you know about his/her actions in regard with his/her vast experience__ Mr. Rayale’s experience as an intelligence agent earned him to political strangulations by his bare hands as shown below.

A quick glance at Rayale’s bad governance:

* Rayale’s experience is the hurdle for good governance; causes him to omissions and accordingly became detached from many key co-working government bodies. It is also the stumbling block to any dialogue between him and the apostates.

* His Power-hunger psychodrama coupled with low self-esteem is what took the determination of this nation to an uncertainty and isolationism.

* Obstructionism based political system has yielded numerous filibusterers in both the houses whose job are to serve him adopt illegitimate incrementalism and systematic term extensions.

* Bureaucracy and red-tapism are severely disturbing, as many of his portfolios minsters are day and night 24/7 budget vampires who uses their assigned positions as a one-stop shop service.

* Many of his ex-intelligence service mates are his political gamesmanships, national security advisers etc, whose job are to imprison and impose a state of emergency law even if the smallest issue arises.

* His Paternalistic policy keeps the market bullish by brokering clan political ideologies through political neophytes such as, clan sultans, sub-clan chiefs and many other notorious clan mongers.

Where there is a will there is a way, if Mr. Rayale has an inclination to take this nation back to the future, he must abide by the 4-point resolutions adopted by the parliament. He must reverse his decision on what this people spent much of their time, money and energy; re-instate the expelled organisation (inter-peace) to accomplish their job. Udub as a party must convince him to nullify his decision rather than the registration list. Somaliland National Electoral Commission (SNEC) must also be back to what they have taken the oath, must consult with Somaliland electoral-technocrats worldwide together with the donor organisation and re-correct what has gone wrong to the best interest of the people rather than their differences between them and inter-peace.

Finally, I would like to conclude my article with two words: One to the President and the other to the people. Mr. President__ you must value the security, life and wealth of the millions of people at home, as you are usually obsessed with yours. The reason behind retractable barricades sealed-off around your mansion gates after Oct-29 terrorist attempt on your life was not to control the traffic whizzing around, but for your security reinforcement. Moreover, the national constitution is not a small dog-eared notebook of a schoolchild but rather the country’s under recognition and democratic highway. Iron feast is not the best way to govern people but the worst to suppress them, and it could take the whole country back to square one.

To my people at large, the only thing marketable we have in hand is “peace” which needs an attractive packaging with an expensive price tag and a meaningful label. We must abstain from anything that could lead us to belligerence or turmoil. We must know that the beauty over our country was not found on the fact that, president Rayale is in the office, but through our collective efforts, harmony and brother-hood. Let the world know about what binds us together is much greater than what drives us apart. If peace is so packed, priced and safeguarded, we can create for it a special political zone in the international political arenas and of course can break the ice within no time inshaa ALLAAH.

Khadar Hanan khadarhanan@gmail.com, Doha, Qatar


Somaliland: Donor Nations Delegation “Turned Away”

12 August 2009, http://www.somalilandglobe.com/

A delegation representing the donor countries that assist Somaliland on democratization process which was due to arrive Somaliland today was reportedly told to stay away by President Riyale’s administration.

Reliable sources tell Somaliland Globe that the administration, fearing further pressure from the donor nations, opted to tell the delegation to stay away because the government was not able to provide security detail for them.

A member of the delegation was quoted as saying that the postponement followed discussions with the government officials but declined to provide specific reasons. He added he hoped they will be traveling to Somaliland soon. The donor nations, dismayed at Riyale’s attempt to circumvent the Election Law, are eager to tell the candidate for the ruling UDUB party to conform to the Election Law.

Earlier today an administration official who spoke to the local media defiantly dismissed the Parliament’s recent bill which declared Riyale’s attempt to suspend voter registration list as unlawful. The official also faulted Interpeace of stealing data from voter registration list, an accusation which he did not substantiate and was not mentioned at the time when Interpeace was expelled from the country.

The law makers gave the administration seven days to comply with their ruling which directs the president and the National Election Commission (NEC) to follow the Electoral Laws of Somaliland mandating the use of the existing voter registration list. It is not clear whether the deputy interior minister’s statement means that Riyale will defy the lawmakers but there is little doubt that this statement to the press was held with Riyale’s full blessing.

This statement from the low ranking administration official is clearly meant to frustrate the lawmakers and opposition parties who expect the Riyale and the NEC to fall in line and move forward by preparing the country for the election that is due to be held in less than two months.


Somaliland: Parliament Gives the President a Week To Comply With The Electoral Law

12 August 2009, http://www.somalilandglobe.com/

Somaliland Parliament ruled unlawful a joint decision by Riyale administration and National Electoral Commission’s to attempt to suspend the voter registration list in the upcoming presidential election.

The parliament also ruled that the NEC overstepped its power by participating in this attempt to suspend the voter registration list.

The parliament gave both the President and NEC one week to comply with Electoral Laws, which in effect forces them to fall in line and hold the presidential elections slated for September 27 using the current voter registration list.

The bill voted for by the majority in the Parliamentarians, calls for appropriate punishment in accordance with the law if neither part does not comply with today’s ruling. Parliamentarians who tabled the bill say the consequence of non-compliance is impeachment for Riyale and the NEC.

MP also condemned Riyale administration’s decision to expel the Interpeace from Somaliland and urged the president to refrain from actions that can damage the country’s relations with nations that support Somaliland democratization process.

The Parliament’s ruling came after several days of debate on Riyale’s decision with the blessing of the NEC to hold a “no holds barred” presidential election removing the normal election restrictions such as requirement for voters to show IDs with prior registration and non-ability to vote outside their precinct. Riyale who was not happy with the large number of voters registering in regions where his party is growingly unpopular, alleges voter registration fraud took place in those regions and wanted to remove the restrictions imposed by the electoral laws. If Riyale had his way any one in Somaliland could vote in polling stations of their choice without anything preventing the voters from committing fraud at polling booths. A move which the opposition say will favor the ruling party by opening the door for serious electoral fraud and future legal problems.

Senior members of the opposition also suspect Riyale, whose term has been “unconstitutionally” extended for a total of 17 months, of seeking yet another term extension.

The opposition parties found strong support from Parliament and the majority of the public in rejecting Riyale’s attempted suspension of the voter registration list.


Somaliland: Hargeisa Court Freed Radio Horyaal Journalists

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-09 August 2009)- The Hargeisa Regional Court has ordered today the release of the two Radio Horyaal journalists Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul and Mohamed osman Mire who were arrested for incitement of inter clan violence in El Bardaleh.

The prosecution has failed to produce solid and credible evidence against the defendants.

The court has ordered the two journalists to pay a total sum 5 million Somaliland shilling ($750), which they paid on the spot. Earlier the court sentenced the two journalist of six months imprisonment each but the sentence was waived.


The Jailings and Spurious Charges Against Journalists in Somaliland

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” Henry A Grunwald

http://somalilandpress.com/August 9, 2009

Recently on a cold morning walking in university of Pretoria’s campus to attend a public interest lecture about human rights violation with reference to Charles Taylor who is currently facing charges of genocide and several other charges, I found myself shedding tears at many lives lost in Africa an elsewhere in the world.

I unconsciously shed tears because of my deep affection for law and social order that develops and advances the quality of human lives in Somaliland and Africa.

The methodical jailings and spurious charges against journalist in Somaliland convey to the world our unpreparedness to begin contemplative debates about national consciousness and diplomacy. It clearly sends a message that we are narrow-minded society whereas we are not, the current Somaliland system is unitelligent and dull. If we are to be liberated from ourselves and chain of bad governance like the current one, we must allow our society to have journalists who can write and publish discourse which is both critical and affirming of our current structures of governance.

Law Reform Commission was recently founded and members thereof recently visited South Africa on a discourse and comparative mission which I can attest was successful. It was successful because we need a law reform commission which will to a great extent assist in advancement of civilised society. We need laws to regulate social order and trade, locally and internationaly.

Law reform is a great project of national importance but we must continue to negotiate our way forward in the forays of international involvement through the media.


US believes Somaliland deviated from the path to democracy

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-06 August 2009)- The leaders of the two main Somaliland opposition political parties, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo of KULMIYE and Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID met with state department officials and members of US congress including Donald Payne, chairman of House Subcommittee on African Affairs and Global Health.

The meeting, which took place in Nairobi followed president Dahir Rayale’s unilateral decision to expel donor countries from Somaliland and his refusal to accept the production of voter list which “represents the culmination of enormous effort by the stakeholders and an important opportunity for the Somaliland people.”

Sources told The Somaliland Globe that Rayale refused to answer calls from US officials.

The decision to expel the donor countries was roundly condemned by the opposition parties, leaders of the two houses of Somaliland’s parliament and civil society groups.

The Somaliland Globe has learnt that the US government officials are becoming increasingly concerned about Somaliland’s deviation from the path of upholding democratic principles.

President Rayale’s refusal to accept the production of final Voter List as mandated by Somaliland Electoral Law and a consensual agreement between political parties has attracted national and international condemnation.

President Rayale and the “highly partisan” National Electoral Commission want to hold the forthcoming presidential elections scheduled for 27 September without a Voter List. The opposition rejects this idea, as this would give Rayale’s government an opportunity to rig the election.

The US and EU countries are considering to take appropriate action against Rayale’s government.


Former Somaliland Resistance Fighter: Arm Us, to Beat Islamists

By David Axe August 6, 2009. Vhttp://www.wired.com/dangerroom

Washington is worried about Somalia. After 18 years of civil war, a insurgent group loosely aligned with Al Qaeda has threatened to conquer the country. In a March audio recording, Osama Bin Laden encouraged the hardline group Al Shabab to overthrow Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the leader of the U.S.- and U.N.-backed “transitional government.” This summer, Al Shabab surrounded the government’s Mogadishu headquarters, forcing African Union peacekeepers (pictured) to deploy tanks to help repel the attackers. And in July, the Obama Administration sent the defenders millions of dollars worth of small arms and ammunition, with more promised.

But the current strategy of propping up the weak transitional government will never work, according to one retired Somali freedom fighter.

In the 1980s, Ahmed Egal helped found the Somali National Movement, which successfully fought back the forces of Somali dictator Siad Barre, in the country’s north. The freedom fighters then stepped aside, to allow clan leaders to organize a new government. Today, “Somaliland,” with 3.5 million people, is a rare bright spot on the Horn of Africa’s bloody landscape. It has its own laws, currency and army, and has remained peaceful, and growing, as the rest of Somalia has fallen apart. Still, no other country officially recognizes Somaliland, instead preferring to back the TFG.

“It is necessary to embrace the only peaceful, functioning, Muslim, representative government in the Horn of Africa, namely Somaliland,” Egal told me, for my latest piece in World Politics Review. Rather than sinking more cash into a doomed effort to save the transitional government, he said, the U.S. should ally with Somaliland and use it as a base for fighting Al Shabab. Egal envisions a new African Union peacekeeping force operating out of Somalia, alongside Somaliland forces trained and equipped by the U.S., Russia and the E.U.

It’s a controversial proposal, to be sure. Washington is steadfast in its support for the transitional government, and politely declines to recognize any new state that would shatter Somalia’s existing borders. But there is precedent for the U.S. backing a breakaway region of a troubled country. Washington is the major sponsor for South Sudan, a fully autonomous region of Sudan that is quietly arming itself with modern weaponry, in anticipation of a 2011 vote that could see South Sudan formally secede.


US believes Somaliland deviated from the path to democracy

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-06 August 2009 )- The leaders of the two main Somaliland opposition political parties, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo of KULMIYE and Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID met with state department officials and members of US congress including Donald Payne, chairman of House Subcommittee on African Affairs and Global Health.

The meeting, which took place in Nairobi followed president Dahir Rayale’s unilateral decision to expel donor countries from Somaliland and his refusal to accept the production of voter list which “represents the culmination of enormous effort by the stakeholders and an important opportunity for the Somaliland people.”

Sources told The Somaliland Globe that Rayale refused to answer calls from US officials.

The decision to expel the donor countries was roundly condemned by the opposition parties, leaders of the two houses of Somaliland’s parliament and civil society groups.

The Somaliland Globe has learnt that the US government officials are becoming increasingly concerned about Somaliland’s deviation from the path of upholding democratic principles.

President Rayale’s refusal to accept the production of final Voter List as mandated by Somaliland Electoral Law and a consensual agreement between political parties has attracted national and international condemnation.

President Rayale and the “highly partisan” National Electoral Commission want to hold the forthcoming presidential elections scheduled for 27 September without a Voter List. The opposition rejects this idea, as this would give Rayale’s government an opportunity to rig the election.

The US and EU countries are considering to take appropriate action against Rayale’s government.


Tensions Rising in Somaliland Ahead of Vote

By Alisha Ryu, Nairobi, 07 August 2009. VOA

Escalating tensions ahead of a presidential vote in the self-declared republic of Somaliland are raising fears that a prolonged political crisis may give the al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group, al-Shabab, the opportunity to spread its extremist ideology.

The associate professor of religious studies and Arabic at the University of South Africa, Iqbal Jhazbhay, says political bickering between the government and opposition parties in Somaliland is threatening to derail much-delayed elections there, scheduled for September 27.

Jhazbhay says the feud must be resolved quickly before it inflicts irreparable damage on the breakaway territory's democratic system.

"There is no doubt that this is a defining moment," he said. "This polarization could pose a threat to peace and security in the sense that it would polarize the populace, lead to possibly things spilling out of control, the possibility of extreme Islamic elements like al-Shabab seeing this as an opportunity to advance their agenda."

At the center of Somaliland's brewing crisis is the question of whether the territory can hold an election without a voter registration list.

A U.N.-partnered organization called Interpeace had been helping the government of incumbent President Dahir Riyale with the voter registration process, and was planning to monitor the election.

But last week, the government expelled the head of Interpeace from Somaliland, accusing the organization of, among other things, illegally sharing voter information with officials of Somaliland's two main opposition groups, Kulmiye and UCID.

Interpeace has denied any wrongdoing. But it acknowledged that the voter registration system was, in its words, seriously abused while being implemented. Some government supporters have charged that multiple registrations in favor of opposition parties had taken place in several districts.

Somaliland's National Election Commission ruled that the presidential election could proceed without the voter registration list, and the president quickly endorsed the ruling. Kulmiye and UCID said the decision to abandon the list is tantamount to high treason. Opposition members of parliament are now said to be preparing a motion to impeach President Riyale.

Professor Jhazbhay says he fears if a compromise cannot be reached soon, the feud may cause some Somalilanders to become disillusioned with democracy, and he fears that could strengthen the hand of al-Shabab extremists. Al-Shabab, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, is currently battling to overthrow a U.N.-backed government in the Somali capital Mogadishu, and has vowed to fight until all of Somalia is united under an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.

"In the case of Somaliland, they have tried to shape an agenda and a discourse saying that advancing democracy is a Western exercise, where countries like Somaliland end up being led and following an American agenda," he said. "It is an attempt to mobilize people and alienate them from what is clearly a home-grown democracy of Somali customary laws and Islamic law."

Top al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane hails from the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa. Godane is suspected of ordering the deadly suicide attacks in Hargeisa last October at a U.N. compound, the Ethiopian consulate, and the presidential palace.

Somaliland's current president, Dahir Riyale, was peacefully elected to his first five-year term in 2003, and, until recently, the territory was held up as an example of what the rest of Somalia could achieve through democratic reforms and good governance.

But the presidential vote that should have taken place in August 2008 has been postponed several times. The delay has raised concern from key allies, such as the United States and the European Union, about Somaliland's commitment to democracy.

In recent years, Somaliland has been closely cooperating with the West in combating terrorism and piracy, in exchange for the international diplomatic recognition it has sought since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991.


Somaliland: Opposition Official Dies Others Injured in a Car Accident

HARGEISA, 6 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Reports coming from Berbera say members from the opposition party, KULMIYE have been injured in a car accident an hour ago.

Ali Marshal, the campaign manager of Kulmiye in the Western regions instantly died in the incident. The Second Vice Chairman of the party Mr. Abdirahman Abdiqadir and Mohamed Hashi Elmi have have also been injured and admitted to Berbera hospital. One of them is reported to be in a very serious condition.

The officials were on their way to Berbera airport to welcome the opposition leader who is expected to arrive from Nairobi today.

Somalilandpress reporter, Mr. Abdiqani Baynah was also among the injured and rushed to Berbera hospital. Efforts are ongoing to transfer the wounded to Hargeisa hospital for treatment.

This is the first of its kind the political parties witness prior to the presidential election scheduled on the 27th of September.

The leader of Kulmiye party was slightly injured about two weeks ago while he slipped in his house. He was taken to Nairobi for treatment and said he is ready to resume his duty. He was coming back to the country today after reports say he had a meeting with Mr. Donald Payne, the chairman of the US congress sub-committee for Africa in Nairobi.

There is no official statement from the party as per now but this will be a painful moment for the opposition as the elections are coming nearer.


Somaliland: Simple Advice to all Stakeholders!

HARGEISA, 5 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – To the Electoral commission, to the Government, to the Political parties, to the Parliament..and, of course, to the mesmerized Citizens!

I have dared to take the pen after I was perplexed by the inhumane, shameful, uncivilized and endless political turmoil in our country, Somaliland. I don’t want to say much but only to highlight a straightforward solution which we can take ourselves out of the horrible situation we are in, according my logic.

I hope that the concerned stakeholders will reconsider their respective interests and put the national interest on the top of the agenda.

It is easy to point fingers, but it is not my intension to do so, I preferred to catalyze the potentials of the stakeholders if they happen to love their country or continue the ‘dirty game’ if they don’t mind.

My advice is as follows:

Electoral Commission

It is the decision that you make today which will either destroy what we have been building for the past two decades or take us forward. You are small in number, only 7, and we have been proud of you to held free and fair election and still we believe in you but you are running out of time. Please act before it is too late. It is you who are supposed to pull the parties together and find common ground; it is you who are supposed to convince and persuade others…..it is shameful to see you taking sides, dividing yourselves into 3 to 4! Hey if you can’t win the battle just give up. But I am sure you can win but only missing one thing, the unity.

Let personal interests fade away, let party interests die and let the national interest took the lead! Today we see how bad things seem but in the face of despair you can create hope, in the face of doubt you can clear the air. Come together, discuss the issue and decide the best way forward. Call the parties before you talk to the media about what you have discussed, consult with them and convince them with openness, sacrifice extra hours if needed. But if you say we have decided so and so and sit aside……….guess what? The “game” continues and the time slips away. Then we find ourselves deep in a trouble which we have deliberately let to get worse and worse!

All eyes are on you! And time will tell what you have done to a nation which you had the chance to lead. But we the people will promise only one thing, to remember what you have done……….good or bad? The ball is in your court!!!!

May Allah take us to the right path…. The other parts are coming soon.

Jama Ismail Noor, jaamacyare11@hotmail.com


New Technology Undermines Somaliland Election

HARGEISA, 5 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The people and Government of Somaliland spend time, energy and money to the biometric voter registration to have free and fair election. The process continued for two years across Somaliland from Sool to Awdal regions. The world witnessed millions of Somalilanders in long queues for hours under blazing sun to redefine their identity as Somalilanders, after premature unity with Italian Somalia on 1st July 1960. The women and youth played very important role in voter registration process. Thousands of Somalilanders volunteered in helping the government to complete the registration.

The Somaliland flag was flying on the roof of very house across the country. The international community including USA, EU and African Union praised Somaliland for becoming the first African Nation to carry out electronic biometric voter registration, in the heart of a region dominated by dictators and kings.

Somaliland registration started after thousands of unarmed civilians were killed and displaced in Kenya over disputed election result. Also, democracy and human rights record in the region is not cheering.

However, the recent election dispute in Somaliland, between the political parties, government and National Election Commission, has triggered political confusion, particularly after President of Somaliland Dahir Riyale Kahn canceled the result of biometric registration, and called for traditional finger-painting style of election. This is a fallback to Somaliland democracy and after two years of hard work of enrolling the millions of citizens; also, it is disappointment to international community that helped Somaliland to achieve it.

Today, it is not right to accuse each other over the election because the country needs somebody to save from political collapse. The result of the Server – Biometric Registration – is very essential for the people, though it contains minor errors but yet better than finger-painting.

Biometric system will, at least, identify Somalilanders from the others in neighboring countries. We all know that Somali speaking people in the Horn of Africa lookalike each other and difficult to distinguish between them; but the biometric system will filter out the non-Somalilanders.

Interpeace is part of the failure in Somaliland Voter Registration, because it failed to generate accurate result from the Server, which is under its direct management.


Somalia: Somaliland opposition want to 'impeach the president'

HARGEISA, Somalia Aug 4 (Garowe Online) - Opposition party officials in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland have accused President Dahir Riyale of violating the constitution, Radio Garowe reports.

Faisal Ali Warabe, chairman of the opposition party UCID, told the VOA Somali Service that the election commission has "sided with the government" and the ruling UDUB party.

"The government [of President Riyale] wants to stay in power and we oppose this," said Mr. Warabe, who was speaking by telephone from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Mr. Warabe noted that he is traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, where he is expected to meet with Kulmiye opposition party chairman, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, and are "preparing" a parliament motion to impeach Somaliland's president.

Kulmiye officials had announced that the opposition party "lost confidence" in the Somaliland election commission.

Further, opposition parties are frustrated with President Riyale's decision to expel the Interpeace head in Somaliland.

Interpeace has been helping the government with the voter-registration process and planned to monitor the Sept. 27 presidential election.

Somaliland's president had declared that the election will take place on time without use of the incomplete voter-registration data, while critizing foreign donors for "interfering" in Somaliland elections. These developments have further alienated the opposition leaders.

Somaliland's election crisis ignited in May 2008, when President Riyale received the first of two term-extensions by the House of Guurti, the upper house of parliament.


War is Boring: Somaliland Advocate Vies for World Focus

David Axe, 05 Aug 2009, World Politics Review

There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when Somali clans across East Africa imagined a "pan-Somalia" encompassing former British, Italian and French colonies, in addition to portions of eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The former British and Italian colonies -- Somaliland in the north, and the southern U.N. Trust Territory of Somalia, respectively -- had taken a tentative first step towards realizing this greater Somali state, when they merged in 1960 to form the Republic of Somalia.

But the greater union was not to be. The former French colony declared independence, as Djibouti, and Ethiopia and Kenya each held onto their Somali regions. The Republic of Somalia began to fracture in the late 1980s, following decades of clan favoritism and repression under dictator Siad Barre. In 1991, the Somali National Movement (SNM), founded in 1981 to resist Barre's regime, ejected the last of Barre's troops from northern Somalia, and Somaliland declared its independence.

Nearly two decades later, Somaliland, population 3.5 million, is a rare bright spot on the Horn of Africa's political landscape. The country is at peace and growing economically, in stark contrast to the south, where Islamic extremists and clan factions continue to wage brutal civil warfare. Despite its successes, Somaliland has never been officially recognized by other nations or by world bodies such as the African Union and U.N. "Many Western countries are blindly parroting the A.U. dictum that Africa's post-colonial borders are sacrosanct," explained Ahmed Egal, a founding member of the SNM.

Egal says it's time for the world to embrace Somaliland, and consider the country a base for addressing instability in the south. Egal, who now lives in Saudi Arabia, detailed his proposals by e-mail to World Politics Review. "It is necessary to embrace the only peaceful, functioning, Muslim, representative government in the Horn of Africa, namely Somaliland," Egal wrote.

Egal's proposal comes as the latest "Transitional Federal Government" in Mogadishu faces heightened pressure from an alliance of extremist Islamic groups. The TFG is recognized by the U.S., the U.N. and the A.U. as the legitimate government of Somalia, Somaliland and the autonomous region of Puntland. But in reality, the TFG controls only a few neighborhoods in Mogadishu and depends heavily on foreign military assistance for its survival. The TFG "is being relentlessly attacked by a coalition of Islamist transnational extremists and Islamist nationalists determined to topple the government," an anonymous East Africa correspondent wrote in the July issue of Sentinel (.pdf), a counterterrorism journal based at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

To prevent the takeover of Somalia by Islamic extremists, the world should start by shifting its backing from the TFG to Somaliland, Egal recommended. "The newly recognized country of Somaliland should be tasked by the international community with training and re-establishing the Somali national army. In addition, a new A.U. military mission for Somalia comprised principally of Somaliland forces with logistical support, special forces training and equipment provision by the U.S., Russia and the EU should be established and dispatched urgently to Somalia with offensive mission approval and the explicit aim to secure the country and defeat the terrorists."

Subsequently, "Somalia should be placed under U.N. trusteeship until a freely and democratically elected government is chosen by its people," Egal advised.

Egal's recommendations are controversial, especially in light of Washington's sustained commitment to the TFG and to the peace process -- anchored by talks in Djibouti -- that underpins the TFG's legitimacy. But Egal's proposal for a new process, based in Somaliland, does have some historical precedent. Egal explained that Somaliland's success is rooted in its commitment to truly democratic, grass-roots governance. "The traditional cultural, political and social structures remained paramount and were able to trump the political and military leadership of the liberation movement."

In the wake of the SNM's battlefield victories in 1991, "the elders of the various clans stepped in and convened a grand conference in Borama to establish a constitutional structure and effective civilian administration that was accepted by all the communities, and to which they freely and voluntarily granted their fealty."

"The Borama conference is an amazing example of indigenous, grass-roots, African nation building and democratic constitutionalism that merits further academic study and research," Egal wrote. He said its example could guide a renewed effort at establishing popular government throughout Somalia.

"Since the late 1990s, Somaliland has advised time and again that the 'top-down' approach chosen by the international community -- establishing successive so-called governments for Somalia drawn from warlords, self-appointed 'civil society leaders' and their cohorts -- was an exercise in futility."

Many would agree about the futility of the world's current approach to resolving Somalia's 18-year conflict. But fewer would agree to Egal's proposal to build a new approach around Somaliland. The TFG's process is "as good as we're going to get at this time," a State Department source said.

David Axe is an independent correspondent, a World Politics Review contributing editor, and the author of "War Bots." He blogs at War is Boring. His WPR column, War is Boring, appears every Wednesday.


Somaliland: Press Statement by UDAA

HARGEISA, 4 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Like many other Somalilanders at home and abroad, we have watched with increasing dismay the long saga of the presidential election which has been postponed four times from its constitutionally ordained period[i] of April 2008.

We were heartened now and again to see problems solved painstakingly through the Somaliland way of consultation, co-operation and consensus.

The code of conduct was finally agreed on 11 July 2009 by the four sides (the three parties and the National Electoral Commission – NEC) and both Houses passed the amendments needed to align the old 2002 Electoral Law with the changes that have been made since in 2005 and in 2007[ii].

The next step, under the agreement between the NEC and the parties, was the production of the voters’ roll by 27 July 2009, which would mark the outcome of the $10m voter registration exercise and was to be followed by the start of the campaigning and the polling date of 27 September 2009.

The voters register (roll) was finally issued by the Interpeace[iii] on 27 July 2009. The two opposition parties accepted the announced roll outcome but the government party rejected it immediately. It is what happened at this stage that has plunged Somaliland, again, into both a constitutional/ legal and political crisis.

Instead of continuing to solve the disagreement about the declared outcome of the voter registration process that started in October 2008, the NEC decided that the release of the list to all the parties was a cardinal crime and having met on 27 July 2009:

Resolved, by a majority vote of 4 out of 7 to set aside the voter registration exercise and hold the presidential election without a voters’ register; ordered that legal expert, Mr Robin Zamora of Interpeace who has been helping this NEC (and its predecessor) be “declared persona non grata” and expelled immediately from the country; and threatened, in a publicly broadcasted interview, that any presidential candidate that does not comply with their edict will be disqualified.

As the NEC immediately passed its resolutions to the President, the latter in turn implemented them and added that he no longer needs the donors’ promised funds (amounting to millions of dollars) for the election.

UDDA and the other Somaliland organisations signing this statement believe that these precipitate and joint actions taken by the NEC and the President, who is after all the Chairman of the third party and a prospective candidate, are not only contrary to the electoral and public laws of the country but are also extremely damaging to Somaliland’s interests and to the standing and reputation of the Somaliland NEC.

The rule of law

1. The rule of law is the cornerstone of the Somaliland Constitution and the President and the NEC must abide by the laws of the country. Simply put, neither the NEC nor the President can unilaterally or bilaterally announce that the election will be held without voter registration. Since the passage of the Voter Registration Act 2007 on 8 July 2007, no voting in Somaliland could take place without voter registration. Article 30 of the Law states unequivocally that for anyone to exercise his right to vote, he must do so, with his voting card, at the relevant polling station, and Article 41 made null and void any other previous laws or provisions which are in conflict with this Law.

2. The fact that the 2002 Presidential and Local Councils Election Law needed amendments to bring it in line with the changes made by both the 2007 Registration Law and also 2005 (House of Representatives) Election Law does not mean that, without repealing or amending the Registration Law itself, we can simply go back to the position of the 2002 Law at the behest of the President, let alone the NEC.

3. Although the amending bill to update the 2002 Law was passed by both Houses recently, no announcement has been made yet that it has been signed by the President and published in the official journal (as set out in Article 66(2) of the bill) to bring it into force. Some pro-government supporters stated that the bill contains an Article 67 which somehow allows election without voter registration, but the bill (as confirmed by the House of Representatives[iv]) consists of only 66 articles.

4. Article 66(1) of the new bill simply confirms that the amendments shall be used only in every election held in Somaliland under the voter registration system[v] and does not, in any way, amend or qualify the Voter Registration Law. This is understandable as the whole objective of the amending bill was to align the 2002 Law with the newer laws and not the other way round.

5. As neither the amending law nor the Voter Registration Law set out the procedures and circumstances when an election without voter registration can be held, then any decision about setting aside the 2007 Law, even for temporary period, is one that can only be made through a clear amending law passed by both Houses and the President. There is nothing in the recent amending bill which says that the decision about the validity or otherwise of the voter registration will be made by the NEC or the President.

6. In any case, it is a fundamental statutory duty of the NEC, especially under the Voter Registration Law, to register all potential voters and hold elections based on an electoral register/roll. No public body in any country that we are aware of has the power, on its own, to divest itself of a statutory duty that it was entrusted with and then insist also that its decision must be binding on all other affected organisations.

7. If the Commission was simply making a recommendation, why has it not discussed it fully with all the political parties and the donor bodies and seek a consensus? Why did it report to the President only and insisted that the opposition parties must fall in line? it has become custom and practice and an obligation under Article 9(1) of the Constitution (co-operation) that any such proposals affecting the parties or the elections should be discussed with the political parties and with others before any decision can be made even if the latter still required parliamentary and presidential approval.

The NEC

Above all the NEC, by law, must not only be impartial (Article 11(6) of the 2002 Law), but must also seen to be impartial. The NEC members were clearly aware that the three parties held different views about the likely outcome of the voter registration exercise and would have known that the best way to proceed in these circumstances was to engage, as usual, in detailed consultations and discussions before a consensus can be reached. This was the approach the NEC has followed before and was “codified” in the various four way agreements with the three parties. The NEC members could not therefore have been unaware that a decision on such an important issue made with the agreement of Chairman of one of one the parties could be seen as anything but partial. In these circumstances, one can only conclude that the NEC was:

a) neither contrite about its failure (no doubt shared by others) to oversee a fully successful voter registration exercise;

b) nor interested in leaving room for all the possible options to be examined with the continued advice and help from Interpeace and from the donor countries; and

c) totally indifferent to how the opposition parties and the public view its impartiality.

Conclusion and recommendations

We are seriously concerned that yet again we are facing another crisis based on precipitate actions taken by a public body (the NEC) and the government. At a time of financial difficulties worldwide and in the light of the long delays in the payment government’s contribution to the electoral expenses so far, we cannot understand how Somaliland government could so easily reject offers of millions of dollars from the donors.

Yet again we also hear that anyone who objects to these latest edicts is working against the interests of Somaliland. The fact that we have been the subject of no less two international reports[vi] about the government’s human rights record this year is also linked to this malaise and we have witnessed only recently the imprisonment of radio journalists and the closure of a television station at an election time when the media ought to be allowed to play its important role.

We make the following recommendations so that free and fair elections can be held soon:

The President

We earnestly urge the President to rescind the expulsion order of Interpeace and arrange a meeting of Interpeace, representatives of the donors and the parties to mend fences.

We ask that the President and Chairman of UDUB initiates immediately a genuine discussion on how an election based on the declared registration can be held with the added safeguards of the use of ink marking, UV rays, tighter control of travelling, more polling staff/temporary booths in each polling station etc. In Malawi, which was mentioned by the President, similar difficulties were faced in 2008/9 in the new registration procedure, but the unverified outcome of the registration was still used for the elections.

We urge the President to issue a decree ending the extra judicial activities of the security committees and declaring that any one accused of a crime be brought to a court of law in line with the constitution and laws of the land.

A free and vibrant press and media are essential for democracy and we urge that we urge that, in these election months, the Press Law should be followed.

The NEC

We believe that the NEC (or some of its members) acted unlawfully and have jeopardised the conduct of the election to the extent that one party is already threatening not to work with them. We think that their your actions, especially those of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman meet the test of impeachable offences under Article 63 of the 2005 Law. The NEC has lost the confidence of two of the three parties. It has been proposed before, not least by the donor bodies, that some of the NEC members were not up to the job. We did not support these proposals out of concern for any likely delays in the election. We are sad to admit that we were wrong. We appeal to the current Chairman and Deputy Chairman to act responsibly and re-consider their position as commissioners now.

We urge the rest of the NEC to re-establish quickly working relationships with all the parties and with Interpeace.

Parliament

We support fully the joint statement issued by Chairmen of both Houses of Parliament.

We ask that both Houses pass resolutions about the actions of the NEC and the President. Whatever the final wording of these resolutions may be, it is important that both Houses debate such resolutions. Parliament has a voice and must be heard.

We believe that holding an election without voter registration requires the endorsement of both Houses through a change in the law. Parliament must insist that it should be consulted and convinced of the advantages, if any, for such a change at this juncture.

We believe that the shortcomings of the declared voter register/roll can be ameliorated by measures to stop multiple or under age voting. We are not the first country that faced difficulties with voter registration, and the answer is to build on what has been done so far.

(Medium term) We urge both Houses to set up a joint committee to study what has gone wrong over the last few weeks and also with the whole voter registration process. We suggest that you seek the full co-operation of the donors in your investigation and ask them to provide finance for an independent audit on the conduct of the registration procedure and to ensure that Interpeace officials provide evidence and testimony on their dealings with the NEC with a view to learning from the experience.

Civil Society

We urge all civil society groups to monitor the progress and conduct of the elections. The public has every right to see that their government, NEC and political parties act in accordance with the law and constitution. Above all whilst acting peacefully and in accordance with the laws and instructions of public officials, civil society groups should record and report any infringements of their rights to the proper authorities/ parties.

13. We are all proud of maintaining our peace and should continue to do so. We must also safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.

Diaspora groups 14. We urge all Diaspora groups to contribute more in the monitoring the conduct of the elections and in human rights and democracy issues. The support for a specific party should not stop us from protecting the wider public interest.

Accountability

15. We remind all government and public officials that they are accountable to the public – impunity is no longer acceptable.

Somaliland organisations making this statement:
1. UDDA – Promotion of the Constitution Group
2. SIRAG
3. Somalilandlaw. com
4. Somaliland American Council
5. East Africa Policy Institute

URURKA DARYEELKA DISTOORKA (UDDAA) – Promotion of the Constitution Group – is an independent non-party political voluntary pressure group consisting of Somalilanders living in the Diaspora who believe that there is a need to promote and advance the Somaliland Constitution. Democracy, the rule of law, separation of powers and fundamental rights and freedoms are the pillars of the Constitution. UDDAA’s objective is to help articulate the growing need to challenge the misinterpretation as well as the blatant infringements of the provisions of the Constitution and to campaign for an independent judiciary that can assume confidently its proper constitutional role.

Convenors:
Lulu Farah luluforumuk@ yahoo.co. uk ;
Khadar Ali Gaas somalilander_ 1@yahoo.co. uk


SOMALIA: Desperate water shortage in Somaliland

The worst-affected areas include the main Saraar plains between Sanaag and Togdheer and Ba’ade, between Sool and Sanaag

HARGEISA, 4 August 2009 (IRIN) - The self-declared republic of Somaliland has been gripped by a drought that has left thousands of families and their livestock in desperate need of water, officials say.

"The first thing people ask you is for water, because both the people and their animals [are] seriously weak and cannot reach water wells in the remote areas," Said Ahmed Du’alle Bullale, MP for Saraar region, told IRIN on 2 August.

The parliamentarian, who recently visited Saraar, Sool and Sanag regions, said many water wells had dried up. Those that still had water served very large populations.

"About 100,000 [people] from Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag regions were displaced by the recent drought and no one is supporting [them]," he added.

The worst-affected areas included the main Saraar plains between Sanaag and Togdheer and Ba’ade, between Sool and Sanaag.

"Most people have moved to places where some Gu’ [long] rains were received, such as the mountains of Sanaag near Erigavo and the southeast district of Togdheer," the MP said.

The mayor of Ainabo town, Khalif Ismail Saleban, said about 35,000 pastoralist families had moved from other regions in search of pasture for their livestock to areas between Qori-lugud and Buhootle, where some long rains had fallen.

This had increased the number of displaced people in the town, which is the capital of Saraar region. "We have more than 400 families who lost their animals in the drought," he told IRIN.

A local chief in Ainabo, Ibrahim Isse Hassan, said the drought had also cut the market value of livestock. The highest price for sheep, for example, was down to US$38 from $42 a few weeks ago, yet the price of rice was still $36.

On 22 June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) warned that the drought in Somalia's central region had extended north into the key pastoral areas of the Sool plateau, Nugal valley, and Hawd livelihood zones.

The situation threatened more than 700,000 pastoralists and a significant number of urban households, whose income and food sources are strongly linked to livestock marketing and trade.

"Emergency assistance is required in order to prevent severe deterioration in food security," FEWS Net said. The situation had resulted from cumulative effects of four consecutive seasons of below-normal rainfall, it noted, adding that pasture and grazing conditions had deteriorated to an alarming degree.


U.S. Dismayed with Somaliland Developments

U.S. Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya. Press release. Monday, August 03, 2009

The United States government is profoundly dismayed with the recent developments in Somaliland, particularly the decision by President Riyale and the National Electoral Commission to discard the recently-completed voter registration list.

We believe the list forms a sound basis for use in the elections scheduled for September 27. We have directly urged President Riyale to reconsider his decision.


Somaliland: Riyale, Interpeace and the Server

http://www.somalilandglobe.com/03 August 2009 | Op-Ed

Over the past year and specially the last six months much has been said about the Server and right now it has taken a life of its own. When one reads the Somaliland media or hears what the government officials and/or the election committee say about the Server, like “ Server-kii baa natiijada soo sari waayey”, you ask, is the Server a living thing? However we all know the server consists of some hardware and software and both are created by man. Everything the server knows comes from a human being; it just does not do things by itself. Therefore the real question is: what is wrong here? Is this an operator problem or crabby technology? If so, why then it has not been detected earlier so it can be remedied? As you can see there are more questions than answers. All these are real opportunities for Riyale and UDUB. The Server is a potential threat to them and a free and fare election is their demise.

Interpeace had an ample time to fix any issues regarding the Server’s technical problems. It is beyond comprehension that Interpeace has been giving one excuse after another about the timeline of the voter registration results. The question for Interpaece is, why did you bought a system that has not been tested before? Did the company that sold this system have a track record in building such systems?

Riyale is known to be devoid of diplomatic language, he is in the same caliber as Mogadishu’s Mohamed Dheere and Salad Ali Jeelle and sending police to eject Interpeace from the country was very unwise and undiplomatic and it is a slap in the face of those who, with good intentions, wanted to help. The choice we had was accepting between voter registrations results with some known and tolerable errors and a complete chaos and an unimaginable, uncontrollable fraud, that is, without registration. If the Riyale regime and the election committee preferred the later, then one should brace for the end of everything we dreamed and treasure that many of us paid with their blood some two decades ago.

In the past 12 months each and every time the election is postponed in Somaliland there is a long pause and silence and one assumes that the opposition parties got the point this time around and things will be fine next time. However, as the election date gets closer we hear all kinds of complaints from the opposition parties. They start accusing Riyale of playing delay tactics and abusing/ignoring the constitutions. Well Riyale knows he has no chance of winning and he will do everything to delay it, but were the opposition parties capable of forcing Riyale and UDUB to hold the elections on time by first coming up with a solution for the outstanding technical and financial problems to deny Riyale any more excuses? There has never been a complete and comprehensive list of issues that are the major show stoppers and need to be addresses immediately in order to hold the election on time and successfully. Of course there was always a single issue “Riyale has no interest of holding an election”. Lately, the bogyman was the SERVER guy. One thing should have been crystal clear right from the beginning, that is, electronic voting is a complex process and error prone, even in developed world, let alone a country like Somaliland where power supply is not even guaranteed 24/7. Therefore what was needed here was plan B, which is, Traditional manual process in addition to the electronic one, in case Riyale sees an opportunity to delay the election once more as he did many times since 2008. Finally does anybody in Somaliland know anything about this SERVER guy technically, that is, what hardware, software is used and why it is not working? This is a classical case of donor nations’ attitude towards the recipients, that is, we know better!

The current state of the Somaliland election has all the hallmarks of the elusive peace process in Somalia, which is an international money laundering and fraudulent projects run, from the great lakes, Bossaso to Darfur, by multi-NGOs, UN, EU and the devil knows who else. Yes beggars cannot be choosers; we should listen and do what those who finance these projects dictate us. Change the commission members, do what we think is good for you not what you think is good for you.

It is sad that the opposition parties (especially UCID) are only now finding that Riyale and UDUB are traitors. Riyale has been a traitor long time when he was in Berbera in the 80s as Said Barre’s Henchman. He knows very well that in a fair and free election he has no chance of winning anything. Worse yet he knows that if he loses he will be of no use even to UDUB, I am not sure of Awdal.

The Server guy is an innocent guy who needs only to be understood by a savvy techie. It knows someone is screwing it up. For one the opposition parties should have had their IT consultants in place right from the beginning and have them get familiar with the technology. Apparently there are IT Colleges in Somaliland, could some of their stuff server as Consultants for the election committee?

If the opposition parties cannot foresee the issues that can delay the elections and they have no solution for it, then it is fair to ask: are they capable of lifting the country from sink hole it is in or lead Somaliland to the path of recognition?

Recently the government of Somaliland excused in attending a meeting in Washington DC organized by the US congressional committee for African affairs headed by Congressman Donald Payne. As a consequence Congressman Payne declined to meet Somaliland’s foreign affairs minister. Well, Should the minister sit in the same table with the thugs in Mogadishu?

Kulmiye jumped to the opportunity and sent their secretary for foreign affairs to meet Representative Payne in Washington DC. Is that a signal for Mr. Payne to let him know that if Kulmiye wins the election they will be ready to sit down with and talk with the thugs in Mogadishu? How will the people of Somaliland see that?

I deeply worry for the people of Somaliland and direction the country is heading. Riyale and UDUB are blind and may God help those who want them to lead.

M.A. Jama, M_jama@hotmail.com


Somalia: Somaliland opposition loses confidence in Electoral Commission

3 Aug 3, 2009, http://www.garoweonline.com

Kulmiye Party, one of the main opposition groups in the breakaway region of Somaliland has withdrawn its support to the Electoral Commission over allegations of partiality, and breaches in democratisation process.

In press conference, the vice chairman of Kulmiye Party, Muse Bihi Abdi said ''the Electoral Commission has the lost the public confidence and supporters of the democratisation process in Somaliland''.

Mr. Abdi further stated that his party supports the information released by the voter-registration Server and rejects the Electoral Commission's move of annulling the voter-registration list.

The government of Somaliland and opposition parties are locked in dispute over the election process which has divided the national institutions. The ruling party want the election to move ahead without voter-registration where the opposition backs the guidelines of 'IINTERPEACE', an international organisation that has been funding the election process in Somaliland.

Somaliland government has expelled a foreign officer working for the Interpeace organisation, Mr. Robin Samorra from its territories over allegations of sharing incomplete voter information with opposition parties, which has deepened the deadlock between the government and opposition.

Analysts fear that Somaliland's election saga could jeopardize the stability the region has long maintained.


A Troubled Year for Somaliland’s Media

Hargeisa, 3 August 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Every nation’s information flows through a variety of media system intended for progress and for its people’s guidance. Somaliland media has done a commendable job in the development and community awareness of their country. Radios, Televisions, Web-sites, Magazines and Journals transmit full sense of persuasions, suggestions, criticisms, warnings, advertisements, congratulations and vacancy announcements.

The wide benefits from media means it acts as a public good in development of a nation. The right to receive information and to the freedom of expression is set out in the African charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights and also Somaliland’s constitution. This must be respected by Somaliland government.

The media is an educator and key information source that can promote peace, stability and transparent governance. For example, Somaliland now has 8 private newspapers, two independent private television stations and one radio stations, for one state local radio stations and one television station. This rapid expansion has generated some problems, including inadequately trained journalist, poor provisional standards and week-self regulation. More over, Somaliland government much controlled the private media and remains government owned. The monopolization of media by the government undermines media freedom and popular trust, and creates space of distortion and rumor.

The single greatest obstacle facing Somaliland media were the illegal arrests made by the government. 27th March 2009, four journalists were arrested by the government. Three of the journalists were released in 8 hours later while the other one was remained in prison, later on Ahmed Saleban Dhuxul was caught by the police at the parliament compound while the house of elders had a session to extend the president’s term in office in the morning 28th March 2009. The detained reporter, Ahmed Saleban Dhuxul was an independent correspondent of Somaliland Space Channel (SLSC) and radio Horyaal.

Mr. Dhuxul was denied access to enter the hall of the meeting while the other journalists were allowed to take part the assembly of the House of elders. He was released after government failed to confirm his guilty to the court.

Interviewed on the phone, one of the released reporters told us Jamahiriya news paper at that time, that his arrest happened at Jigjiga-yar road, where he was taken to the central police station. The reporter, Mr: Liibaan Maweel Shire spent the night at the police station and in the morning 28th March at 10:00 am the police caught Dhuxul and sent him at the police station. He also added that the government has recently increased a systematic campaign against the press. This arrest was condemned by Union Of Somaliland Journalists (USJ) and indicated that the government in recent months arrested a number of journalists like Curad the editor of Yool newspaper and tortured number of them, as the HCTV Camera man who was beaten in Dacar Budhuq district east of Hargeisa.

On 12 July 2009, Mr. Dhuxul and his colleague Sayid were arrested again. The government linked their arrest as they works for a private radio called Radio Horyaal which the government believes that it belongs to the main opposition party named Kulmiye.

On 29th July 2009, at 6:30pm Somaliland police closed down the Horn Cable TV office in Hargeisa. The police later on headed to the studio located east suburb of the city; how ever after a long tedious quarrel and brushes between the reporters and staffs at the studio, the police forcefully arrested the news head of HCTV, Mr. Mohamed Abdi (llig).

Finally, we are criticizing this systematic campaign against the private media. But the question is how can we save our local media?

Submitted by: Farhan Abdi Suleiman, Farhan Abdi Suleiman, Email: oday1999@yahoo.com


Somaliland cultural festival stresses freedom and tolerance

http://www.oodweynenews.com/display_page.php?articleid=9378, 01/08/2009 -

When does one qualify to be an autonomous state? When there is a government? A name? A president? Somaliland has all of these, and by the end of July 2009 it had its own cultural festival. The Mooge cultural festival was held between the 22nd and 27th in Hargeysa, the capitol of Somaliland. This autonomous region, with its own government and president, is bordering the troubled part of Somalia but is "absolutely safe," says Ayan Mahamoud who is organizing the festival.

For several years Mahamoud has lived in The Netherlands, enabling her to comment on this festival in Dutch, on the phone from Hargeysa. "Of course this festival alone cannot bring recognition of our country, but hopefully it can make people understand the reality on the ground," says Mahamoud. Somaliland's independence, which was declared in 1991 after the fall of the Somali dictator Siad Barre, is not being recognized by other countries, neither by the United Nations.

"On a cultural level there is completely nothing in Somaliland," says Mahamoud. Even though Hargeysa used to be home of the majority of Somalia’s theatres. The country underwent a war in the period leading up to the declaration of independence in '91. "Artists come from the Diaspora in Europe to perform at this festival. But there are also artists from Somalia who haven’t performed in fifteen or twenty years, and now start performing again."

The festival in Hargeisa has been named after Mohamed Mooge Libaan, a singer/freedom fighter from Somaliland who was murdered in 1984 by supporters of the regime in charge. "Mohamed Mooge is the only artist from the region who hasn't commercialized his art. Naming this festival after him stands for freedom and tolerance," explains Ayan Mahamoud.

Arne Doornebal

Mooge festival was funded by OxfamNovib, Dahabshill and Daallo Airlines.


Press Release: Democratisation Programme Steering Committee

(USAID, DfID (UK), EC, Norway, SIDA (Sweden), Denmark, Switzerland)

Nairobi, 31 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — The donors congratulate the Somaliland people on the production of a Voter List on 27 July 2009, which is now ready and available. This represents the culmination of enormous effort by the stakeholders and an important opportunity for the Somaliland people.

The donors recognise that the production of the Voter List, as positively evaluated by an independent U.S. company, provides a credible basis for the holding of free and fair elections. The production of the Voter List is mandated by the relevant Somaliland electoral laws and in line with the consensual agreements between the political parties.

The donors regret the announcement by the chair of the National Electoral Commission on the BBC Somali Service on 28 July 2009 of an intention to hold the presidential elections without the Voter List, which, if carried forward, would represent a significant loss for the Somaliland people – as well as for Somaliland’s democratisation process.

The donors urge all Somaliland stakeholders to draw on the long-standing Somaliland tradition of consensual decision-making and capacity for leadership in order to reconcile any differences and prepare for the holding of credible, free and fair presidential elections.


The heavily funded Voters Registration of Somaliland and Interpeace malpractice in implementation:

Republic Of Somaliland
National Electoral Commission
Press Statement, Date: 30/07/09

The current NEC was sworn for the office on September 2007 and inherited a pre-planned Voters registration project and its proposal at a time the Voters registration act 37/2007 was in place. The Donors consisting Sweden, Norway Denmark, USA and the EU has invested generously and Somaliland people will indebted for this holistic support for this project which will the foundation for Somaliland civil registry and voters’ registration. Similarly Somaliland people with enthusiasm accommodated added to the brilliant work done by the young generation Somali Landers involved the voter’s registration.

After suffering a number of delays for the presidential elections due the voters registration program that has been going for almost a year. Interpeace has in an organized aid mafia involved the contracts to vague Companies funded heavy handed by the Donors. Interpeace and the junta Steering committee personalities chairing has openly hijacked the project. The nascent Somaliland Democratization and the stability of Somaliland have been hampered intentionally and the country nearly to loose its community owned stability and democratization in destabilization. Interpeace without the consent of the National Electoral Commission has directly distributed DVD’s with a crude voters list with all duplication and Commission decreed not be used for the oncoming Presidential election in order to make a confusion and political turmoil of the country.

The intended effort of Somaliland electoral commission (NEC) is was meant to lay down a solid foundation for free and fair elections for Somaliland based upon constitutional principles and the values of our society and the acceptable norms of the international standards. The process is concurrent civil and voter registration to at once receive citizen and voters cards for the first in Somaliland. Therefore, the process of the voter’s registration should be free and fair so that all qualified voters are able to register and the process must ensure that each voter is registered only once and that all voters registered are qualified.

The biometric model intended was to curb double registration that might have happened be eliminated and necessary steps be engaged in automated finger print processes AFIS and final voter list be produced. All norms are followed to make the outcome accurate and to the best level internationally accepted. When due to voter’s registration staff proper training the implementation has encountered irregularities in lack of finger print capture and possible duplication that have been widely practiced. This blame of the irregularities goes back to engaging the Server the data collected from the first region to curb all double registrants and would have been discouraged for a similar act in the other regions. We have learned the software of the AFAIS was not ready and even after the completion of the whole Voters registration completion. At this point we have appealed for the enhancement of the severer software and a geometric facial recognition apparatus is included.

The figure of the data collected from all Somaliland became 1, 363, 162 registrants, it has been reported that 96111 registrants we disqualified as there was no extractable photos and have no finger print capture, it can be estimated that over 80% of this figure discarded are possible genuine ones.

In four days without knowing the how it was handled and outside the agreed parameters an additional over 80,000 disqualified registrants has been reached. And the figure of 1, 146 has been communicated to the political parties.

Without the generous holistic funding of the EU and countries UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, USA supporting Somaliland democratization, the voter’s registration would have been a dream. It was very hearting when Interpeace has failed a number of times to produce a final voters list. On the 27th July 2009 Interpeace failed to meet the promise made in the production of a final voters list that is accurate as the intention was. Looking for the ailing timetable of the presidential planned to be held at the 27TH September 2009, It became imminent for NEC to decide that any delay to planned elections could create political turmoil in Somaliland.

Looking into the hard worn governance building in Somaliland NEC has to proceed with presidential elections as planned without voter’s registration.

The heavily supported Voters registration by the donors with all thanks for the holistic financial support, the processes have to be completed and all misuses of the contracted company of the voter’s registration have to be audited internationally.

An independent expert has clearly mentioned in test of the software sampling 15 registrants checked with their original data has revealed that the software is only working in AfAIS only20% and the FRS is working only 30% . The said to have been contracted are not existing i.e. biometrics. The expert said openly if the software is touched it will take months to solve the problems, but slight changes can be made in adjusting the parameters.

We have at a number of times communicated to the EU Hargeisa that unless a proper engineers are brought to Hargeisa the Severer activities will always be at stake.

An international intervention of the mismanagement of the voter’s registration project is to be made. There shall be an open international measure to how the international contract was handled in companies contracted we selected. Interpeace has distributed a list of voters that the national electoral commission has reached on a resolution that this list is not accurate, comprehensive to use for the presidential election.

At this critical instance on the Presidential election time line, NEC has thoughtfully deliberated on the current problems encountered upon the outcome of the Server in producing the viable final voters list. NEC has resolved that the voter’s registration process accomplishment is very essential for Somaliland. Therefore, Interpeace being the sole agency responsible for the server operations and the donors shall come with a merge time line of the final production of the voter list and admit that the technical delays is exclusively.

Keeping in mind, that there are possible solutions that can be made in short period to accomplish a viable voters list for the coming Presidential election on the scheduled date on the 27th September 2009. In this regard, NEC opted that on the coming Presidential election and the donors must quickly implement the recommendations made by the independent expert from creative associates.

For the future challenges:

In order to timely address the technical challenge that has been diagnosed by three Biometric engineers to be affianced as soon as possible to immediately fix the current problems in eliminating the double or multiple registrants that are still in data base of the registrants. This would make the voters and ID list useable. An international biometric firm on voter registration and elections are brought in to verify and audit the viability of the data captured and all contracts given to Copenhagen elections and other which re pocket companies and the European Tax payers whose tax has been funded for this project.

NEC has all responsibilities to save this country of any vacuum due to delayed presidential elections and any pretext be International or national intended to hamper the presidential election will ferociously challenged by Somaliland. All needed funds must be made available by Somaliland government as we have communicated to president.

We are inviting international Observers to attend Somaliland presidential election and will make all possible arrangement to accommodated them to give all possible facilities and the Commission is also inviting international observation experts on the voters registration was handled and how proper equipments waved to the international bid the and the qualities of the equipments and if the report mentioned if any Creative associates made which was never been brought to us in an open international transparent biometric audit. In addition we have appealed to pay all budget lines for the presidential elections and we belief elections can only managed only with national resources.

We have to re-assure Somaliland people that NEC will not spare all its efforts and commitment in accomplishing the desired goal in conducting the presidential Election in time on the 27th September 2009.

Jama Mohamoud Omar, NEC Chairman


Somaliland: A Trip To The Unknown Part Six.

Hargeisa , 29 July 2009 (SomalilandPress)-As the proposed date for elections approaches, tensions here are rising. It is my deepest hope that whatever the outcome, the political situation only moves in a positive direction, though I myself am becoming increasingly uncertain. It’s impossible not to follow the political happenings here. Somaliland is a place that is easy to become attached to, perhaps because the country is so unique and the passion of the local people is perceptible and contagious, or perhaps because it is small and it seems like everyone knows each other. Spend a few months here and I bet you’ll start to call yourself a Somalilander, unless you’re one of the many (among the relatively small population of) foreigners here who do not bother to meet any native Somalis but rather isolate yourself in a compound, only seeing the light of day through an escorted car window. If that’s the case it’s like saying you’ve been to Paris when you never left the airport.

In typical tourist fashion, I finally had the opportunity to visit Laas Geel last week. Laas Geel roughly means “camel watering hold” and it is the site of ancient caves with paintings that date back to approximately 5000 B.C. The site was more impressive than I had imagined. Two carloads of us followed the road towards Berbera until we came to the Laas Geel checkpoint, uncertain if we would be admitted or not. After we picked up a local man who said he knew where to go and proceeded to eat all our biscuits then tried to extort money from us, we arrived near the mouth of the caves dressed in our best dirac and proceeded to walk up the rocky path to truly amazing caves. I was picturing a small handful of paintings scrawled out on a rock, but there were more paintings than one can count, and you could really get a sense of the history and awe of the place. The only people we saw there were nomads who were herding their animals and we were quite out of place in retrospect, with our cameras and bottled waters. Laas Geel and the largely unexplored areas around it have huge potential for historical findings and perhaps for tourism in the future. Just imagine flying into Berbera, scuba diving in the Gulf of Aden, then driving a short hour to Laas Geel, and eventually onward to Hargeisa. Not bad if you ask me.

Apart from that trip, I recently experienced my first concert since I’ve been here and it was a veritable party. We were a crowd of several hundred people, more women than men, and everyone was decked out in their most elegant clothes. It was a strange contrast to the daily life here and at first it was hard for me to get used to seeing the usually very modest, mysterious women I pass on the street with their hair exposed and their hips swaying. The performers were excellent and interacted directly with the crowd, inviting strangers to dance alongside them. My dancing moves were less than stellar; I was always a few beats ahead of the music if I had the courage to move at all. But that didn’t stop me from singing along with a huge grin on my face.

A few days ago I was running short on money so I made a phone call to the States and had my first personal Dahabshiil money transfer experience. I had been to Dahabshiil before to receive local payments, but never to retrieve money sent from abroad. And I thought the non-Somali readers might be interested in the financial system here, as it is quite fascinating to me. Simply put, there are no banks in Somaliland. This of course means that credit cards and checks are simply not recognized, it’s a cash only system. And there are no debit cards or ATMS, so cash only means cash only. Dahabshiil does have an arrangement where they keep your money for you and you can go there to withdrawal it, but there is of course no interest. Dahabshiil is technically a money transfer company, and the closest thing to a bank they have here, but there are no loans, mortgages or credit offered. When I received money from Dahabshiil, the sender went to the local Dahabshiil office in Boston and provided the clerk with his name, ID, and phone number, as well as my name and phone number.

I immediately received a text message across the ocean in Hargeisa alerting me that there was money waiting for me at the Dahabshiil office. I went there, showed them my text message, told them the name of the sender, and magic! That was that. What’s amazing to me is that it is really a trust system, it is not backed by any sort of federal agency and if they don’t provide you with your money there are no official repercussions. Sure their reputation would suffer, but still I can’t imagine such a system working in other countries I’ve been to. If you want to test the system for yourself, I invite you to send me money any time.

Thank you for reading and best wishes!

Emily will be writing to Somalilandpress.com about her experience in Somaliland and will be offering tips to anyone who may want to visit the unrecognized republic along the way – discover Somaliland from a Non-Somali perspective. This is the second article – It is a great privilege to be here in Hargeisa.


Home Sweet Home, Somaliland My Home.

http://somalilandpress.com/ July 31, 2009

The recent announcements made by Congressman Donald Payne regarding the issues involving Somaliland have concerned me so much so that I had to write. I have been further troubled by the current situation in our homeland. I am not a writer as per say but rather a young man with a lot of pride in his belly; pride for his country; pride for his people and proud of his history. Though my age may say that I am not wise enough to comment on these issues and ideas presented below I write this piece out of emotions and feelings I have for the betterment of my people.

Out of concern and frustration and knowing fully my people’s resilience in the toughest of times, I write this piece to outlay my absolute concern regarding the current situation that my countrymen face. Though I live in a far distant land and grown up in a society whose virtues and values highly differ from that which we all experienced back home, I still have so much love for my motherland. By paper I am citizen of Australia but in the deepest of my thoughts I am often confronted by the reality of my world, that I am a Somalilander through and through.

Before anyone misunderstands any of my concerns presented here, I am not a politician nor am I a supporter of any of the political parties in our country. I am a genuine supporter of my motherland, Somaliland. I put the virtues of nationhood before the squabbles of a few self serving characters. Believe me I have a lot of respect for our politicians, but I am often dismayed at their recklessness. I am writing this as a concerned Somalilander and a very concerned one at that. For the past years I have come to the conclusion that all chance of a better, independent Somaliland have evaporated somewhat due to the lack of love and concern for our country by our leaders and people alike. Please don’t misunderstand me and say that I am anti-Somaliland or even that I have no knowledge of our country. As a young educated somalilander it pains me to see my people go into a hole that’s hard to get out of. My analysis is not based on any foreign affairs experience but that of a young man whose entire future is tied with his homeland.

Growing up in a foreign country and always feeling the sense that you are an outcast and not welcomed in the country that you have grown up in, has driven me to search my inner belonging and find that I have a homeland, a very rich and tranquil one at that. Every article I read about my homeland (Somaliland) said something like “Africa’s best kept secret….”. My hopes and aspiration were through the roof; I’ve often argued and debated with other Somalis and Africans telling them that I am from the best land in the entire continent. I love my country more than any other. Some Somali friends call me “reer waqooyi”, I often reply with this very simple gesture that often gets under their skin, “I Prefer Somalilander”. Every new picture of Somaliland on the web fulfils my daily intake of patriotism. My family often comment on my extreme believe and sense of patriotism about my homeland. I try to the best of my ability to protect the image of Somaliland from all its adversaries wherever and whoever they may be.

Somaliland was not born out of the richness of friends but a reality where our foes outnumber our friends. This is further compounded by the belief that the politics of the 60s and 70s will be the way to a brighter day for our small simple nation. Often those who lead our nation are a very self cantered group of leaders and lack the ability to put their personal satisfaction a side and put the needs of our country first and this statement applies to both the current administration and the opposition parties.

The perplexing issue here though is the fact that it often seems that they answer to no one, not even the people who have elected them. Looking at it today Somaliland is standing on delicate ground, as we all argue the little issues our opponents are looking at the big picture and often are a step ahead. While we point the figure at each other our opponents are also pointing the figure at us. I might not have lived in this world as long as some of the leaders of our country but I often confuse the line of which of us are the wiser. Ask yourself this question if today Somalia is a peaceful country how hard will it be for us to get recognised if we can’t work hard enough to get the recognition from the international community today when we have all the reason and the realities that exist in Somalia then how hard is it going to be when Somalia is a peaceful country.

Everywhere I look, at almost everywhere in the globe where Somalilanders reside I see Somalilanders disenfranchised and disorientated by qabilism. We tell the world that tribalism no longer rules the people of Somaliland but I believe that the opposite is true. Today I even notice that in the Diaspora communities we compete with each other so as to benefit our inner tribal groups rather than thinking of the big picture which is Somaliland.

All the news that has come out of our country in the last year or two has been one of sadness and sorrow especially the last few days. I am often compelled not to read any news from back home for it may ruin my entire day. Lately I have noticed that I read every Somaliland news website, searching for that good news that never arrives. For every failure of our politicians there is an excuse and it seems that our politicians never run out of these excuses. I am often dismayed by our government’s utter disregard for the intellectual ability of our people, but I am not surprised for they do not answer to us the electorate.

Our people have put clan affiliation before the rule of law and good governance. Today we stand at a critical point of juncture where our country has been going backwards for a long, long time. What saddens me is that many of my countrymen base their support of the current regime on their clan affiliation rather than the result of the productivity of our government. To say that the current regime is a lame duck is an understatement, for it seems that we the people expect no results and never question as to why there have been no results.

Lately we must have all felt that any sense of democracy in our homeland has somewhat disappeared and the main culprit, our government; for they have shown such disregard for the rule of law and have often transgressed the tranquillity that our people created. In the past week or two they have shown their utter disrespect for the virtues that many of the fore fathers of our land fought for and shed so much blood. The pain of knowing that the great many that fought for this freedom that we all enjoy and their efforts might be in vain because the leaders of today have no respect for the values and the effort that has gone into giving us this hard earned freedom of ours. Abusing the freedom of the ordinary man has become the common trait of the current president and his ministers. The idea of arresting people whom have done no harm to anyone other than expressing their personal point of view or the fact that they don’t like to praise the president for everything when they clearly know that for eight years he has mismanaged and abused the trust of the people that elected him. He reminds me of a dictator that I have once known.

Many of our father died to give us the freedom that we all enjoy in our country today and that didn’t come easy. While many of the ministers in the current government have placed their families outside of Somaliland and they enjoy the luxuries of life in those foreign countries they call home, they the ministers are abusing the very few rights that many of our compatriots back home have. They have locked up media organisations that have employed great many young professionals who have been the sole bread winners of many Somaliland families. The abuse and misuse of the Somaliland public media organisation (Radio Hargeisa, SLNTV) is wide spread. They have become place where the government propagates its dictatorial messages. I hope that all those employees of these organisations and other Somaliland journalists react to the happenings of the past few weeks and as solidarity stop all media publication until the government steps back from the actions that it has taken in the past few days. We the general public should stand shoulder to shoulder with those young professional who are being prosecuted for doing their job.

Recently I witness government officials falling over themselves to welcome Marian Mursal to Hargeisa with such fanfare, all because of a song. I ask, are we that desperate? This in no uncertain terms should mean any disrespect towards Marian but it seemed that while we all shook our heads and hips with this great song we forgot many others who have done a lot more for Somaliland. When a fellow Somalilander travelled thousands of miles, across oceans and left his kids and wife for the pride in his homeland and to do something that no other Somalilander ever thought of doing for his beloved country only for us all to push him away. He travelled through many borders and boundaries so as to spread the name of Somaliland across many countries and places that our name has never reached and not even got a thank you for all his efforts, I for one apologize. I sincerely hope that my fellow Somalilanders pick up their sense of duty towards their country and follow your footsteps.

It is surprising to learn our government’s only answer as to why we have not been recognised as yet is to say that it’s coming and when you ask again they tell you it’s getting closer and closer when the reality says otherwise. The failures of our government to appoint people whose expertise is in the field of diplomacy and their understanding of international affairs is very much limited and further request of them to advocate on behalf of Somaliland is an act of treason by the highest of order for that has led to Somaliwayn supporters having bigger balance of influence on foreign diplomats then our own representatives, I ask how can war criminals, thugs, warlords, pirates and their affiliates be more influential than our own government?

Is it me or does it seem like that our foreign policy is almost nonexistent and that no other entity can regarded it worthy enough for it to be interested for the development of our country. It’s troubling to know that the voices of the many anti-Somaliland groups are growing and are often becoming more and more influential in the international community. They are influencing the UN, AU and the Arab world. They are presenting themselves at every opportunity that Somaliland is overed and are there to block it and lately they have achieved to push Somaliland into a corner. Djibouti has become the fore runner of these groups, but what amazes me is how our government puts on parties to celebrate the leader of Djibouti who is the number one financier of these anti-somaliland groups and not to mention an absolute dictator. The fact that he has said no to our day of celebration to take place on the 18th of May in Djibouti when great many other countries have had no problems with this taking place in their locality is a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that great many Somalilanders fought for and died in the effort to get a free independent country called Djibouti. The sad bit in all this is that our government is so naive as to believe that this dictator should be celebrated in our country and many UDUB leaders should be deemed unpatriotic for their support of this dictator who is the ultimate anti-somalilander. Where are all the Somalilanders in Djibouti, Do they have no pride in who they are? Why are our businessmen propping and doing trade in this country? Do we not have any sense of belonging to our motherland?

Yes I am a realist and I do understand that achieving peace in a place where peace is unknown is a great achievement but do we stop there and say that we’ve reached our desired goals and objectives and use peace as a weapon to answer when asked what have we achieved thus far as a government, only to respond peace and peace alone every time. If the current situation in Somaliland continues we will not even have the peace that we often post about. It’s clear to see that president Rayaale and his cohorts don’t understand how much we appreciate our hard earned freedom; for they have not been affected by the forgettable history of afweyne’s dictatorship. The current regime wants us to stay silent while they perpetrate the same misgivings that we experienced with afweyne. I ask what makes Rayaale so powerful as for him and his cronies to abuse the very basic right that we all had under Somaliland constitution; Why is it that we are all staying silent when our journalists are being abused “Miyaanay dad ladhalan” ; Where are all those so called Caaqils who usually jump up and down when someone mistreats their tribe; why are they ignoring the plea of our brothers; why are they so silent of this regime.; is history repeating?.

As the world focuses on other matters like Piracy, terrorism and Darfur Somaliland has been left in a precarious situation that requires urgent attention of our foreign minister. Though my expertise in the field of diplomacy is very much limited I can see the failures of our foreign policy. If we cared at all about our country getting the recognition it seeks we must take a different path to the current one which is doomed to failure. The policy of the current government in attempting to develop foreign relations with other countries has taken a very bad turn. I fear this may lead to permanent damage to the aspirations of our people. We have become the laughing stock of the Somaliwayn supporters. I fear there may be a sinister scheme to derail any hopes and aspiration that my countrymen had of seeing a free democratic Somaliland. It seems that the foreign policy of our country has no direction and requires someone with the ability to think outside the box. The current minister has no vision for the country and the path that we should take to gaining the independence that we seek. He is misguided in his attempts to make the search for independence a UDUB memorandum and not a national consensus, whereby every party and everyone are inclusive.

The only way I see the world listening to us is when we unite as one and lift the banner of Somaliland as one. I have often noticed the characters that are assigned to establish Somaliland’s presence in foreign countries are the supporters of UDUB and often speak as if they are the representatives of that party rather than the spokesmen for our cause, a cause we all believe in. This also applies to our opposition parties as they also practice these acts of stupidity where all our leaders put their political party affiliations before the general consensus that is Somaliland. In the past 7 years the only progress or update offered to the people of Somaliland by our government regarding the issue of recognition has been the simple statement that “Recognition is getting closer”, May I ask for how long will we not question this statement. As I mentioned before it really seems that we the people don’t demand results from our leaders and that may mainly be due to our clan affiliations.

In getting back to the issues that have led me to write this critical analysis of the situation in my motherland, I believe that as a young adult I strive to make a difference in Somaliland and as such I have the duty to protect and behold the cause that is Somaliland; for I am Somaliland and Somaliland is me and it’s the blood that runs through my veins and there is no way of removing it. I stand to defend my home from all its adversaries. Its seems to me while all our politicians and leaders are all cutting off each necks, our enemies are also onto us and are trying to eliminate our existence not only by name “Somaliland” but more importantly our people back home. Yes we can all dismiss this as a non issue like our current government has but that would be at our peril despite what our people have achieved thus far. We need to push back and push back hard.

I ask Allah to guide me and my people and to lift any burdens that may besiege them. Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire. Allah is Sufficient for me, none has the right to be worshipped except Him, upon Him I rely and He is Lord of the exalted throne. Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.

To Mr. Payne him I would say these few words;

We should all show our displeasure about the comments that this congressman made about our country and our people which showed that he is misinformed and misguided. I hope that we all write in to express our personal life stories and how we have been affected by the same people that are advising him today i.e. the ex generals of Somalia. Where are the Somalilanders in his constituency; why are they silent and finally where are all the Somalilanders in the US. Action speaks lauder than words and in my opinion those Somalilanders who are located in the US should organise themselves and protest in front of his offices and that should show him that these issues and his comments have hurt our people and nation alike. He’ll respond once he sees how he has offended all of us Somalilanders.

We should also approach those other congressmen that are members of the foreign affairs committee and give them the “SOMALILAND101” Lesson.

It seems to me that your words Mr Payne about Somaliland are so misinformed and misguided that the Somali people at large are making a mockery of your comments. It seems that you think that the people that elected you deserve the right to live in a democracy and live in peace, but you cannot afford to give those same virtues to my people in Somaliland because you are misguided in overing those virtues to the terrorists, warlords, pirates and criminals in Somalia and denying it to the people of Somaliland. It amazes me that you, an elected representative of the United States cannot do a bit of googling to educate yourself about the reasons that Somaliland went it alone and decided they want peace, democracy and the rule of law instead of war, piracy, and terrorism. It saddens me to hear your support for terrorist groups in Somalia like the Islamic courts etc and the piracy of Puntland where its well documented that their leaders including the one’s you have met have directly benefited from Piracy. Somaliland said laud and clear in a referendum where 97% of our people decided to go it alone after the genocide of my people committed by the same characters that you advocate for. Our people have spoken.

Somaliwayne is a dead ideology that will never happen again for it has caused so much pain. I ask you to educate yourself about Somaliland and not rely on the words of the terrorists that America tells the world it’s fighting. It’s sad to know that you have no time to visit Hargeisa where peace, democracy and the rule of law is appreciated but you have all the time in the world to negotiate and appreciate the terrorists in Mogadishu and the pirates of Puntland but the saddest thing is the believe that your country America tells the world that its fighting terrorists when it’s clear that you and your advisors Mr. Payne are friends and advocates for these groups. The absolute disrespect that you have shown to the many Somalilanders in your constituent who have willingly voted for you have been left to wonder why the man they have voted for turned against them. Somalilanders have done no harm to anyone other than saying they want to decide their future and that they don’t want terrorists making the decisions for them. They have said no to piracy, they have been at peace for the past 18 years but you have dismissed all that with your comments and your support for some of the factions that are at war in Somalia.

You Mr. Payne have said yes to piracy and yes to terrorism. You as an African American should understand what it means to go through the hardships of being excluded by society and to presume in your comments that innocent Somalilanders should be punished for their believe in free and fair society that believes in democracy and the rule of law is reprehensible to say the least. I hope that you can someday know how hurtful your comments have been.

Aydarus Yussuf


Somaliland expels Interpeace officer, president vows election

HARGEISA, Somalia July 30 (Garowe Online) - Authorities in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland have expelled a foreign officer working with Interpeace, as President Dahir Riyale vowed to hold elections on time, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland Interior Minister Abdullahi Ismail ''Irro'' told a Thursday press conference in the capital Hargeisa that Mr. Robin Samorra of Interpeace was ordered to leave Somaliland.

He noted that Mr. Samorra was expelled after ''sharing incomplete voter information'' with officials from the opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID.

Further, Somaliland authorities accused Mr. Samorra of taking the initiative without consulting with the Somaliland election commission, which was supposed to submit the voter registration information to all three political parties, including the ruling UDUB party.

Separately, Mr. Jama Abdullahi ''Sweden,'' chairman of the election commission, told Puntland-based Radio Garowe that Mr. Samorra was ''inciting the opposition'' and ''used to hold private meetings'' with members of opposition parties.

''Elections on time''

Somaliland President Riyale told the BBC Somali Service that the election commission was correct in ruling that the September 27 presidential ahead go ahead without completion of the voter registration process.

''The election commission proposed that the presidential election go ahead on time without the voter registration process and we as the administration agreed,'' President Riyale said.

He criticized Mr. Samorra for proposing that Somaliland hold the presidential election with ''1.4 million registered voters,'' which President Riyale described as ''wrong.''

The Somaliland leader said he supports the election commission's decision to hold the election without the voter registration process, which has been flawed and at the heart of the election crisis since early 2008.

President Riyale was also critical of donor countries, saying: ''The donor community did not create democracy for Somaliland, but Somaliland created democracy for itself. The donors do not rule Somaliland or its elections, they can only helpl.''


Rapid Assessment Report on the Current Drought Emergency in the Sanaag Region

July 2009, http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/JBRN-7UECDS/$File/full_report.pdf

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Following to the near total failure of the main Gu rainy season, in the month of June 2009, Horn Relief (HR) conducted two successive rapid emergency assessment in all livelihoods zones of Sanaag region (including the important pastoral hub of Sool Plateau as well as the renowned Sarar and Ban-Adde plains of El-Afweyn district), Eastern parts of Sool region including important pastoral areas in Hudun and Ainabo districts up to the Eastern part of the Togdheer region in Somaliland.

The assessment team has focused primarily on the impact of the failure of the rains on the livelihoods of the affected population and the coping mechanisms they are using to adapt to the current crisis. Furthermore, for the hard-hit pastoralist communities in the Sool Plateau, the mission sought to possibly identify potential outmigration opportunities for the weakened livestock, i.e. availability of adequate and accessible water and pasture resources in as far as Western Sanaag, North-Eastern Sool region and Eastern Togdheer.

The assessment teams found that the failure of the Gu rains in Sanaag region and the surrounding pastoral areas in Sool and Eastern Togdheer regions has already caused a substantial damage while it is still posing even more serious (and by the day worsening) threat to the livelihoods of both the urban poor and all wealth groups of the pastoral communities particularly in terms of food security and depletion of assets. If this threat is not addressed very urgently, an immense disaster will ensue whereby both animal and human populations would succumb to a large scale starvation. At the moment the presence of the humanitarian agencies in the assessed areas is at minimum level. This livelihoods crisis which is triggered off by the failure of the Gu season’s rains is compounded in many ways by other equally alarming factors such as the cumulative effects of the previous three rainy seasons that were either very poor or below the normal, a long-lasting water crisis in the area (with a large scale water trucking that has been already underway in some areas since February 2009), high levels of debt reported by pastoralists and the fast declining levels of the remittance money from the Somali Diaspora as result of the on-going global recession1. In terms of food insecurity, it was found that the inability to get access to food is the biggest cause due to poor purchasing power rather than food availability in the local markets.

The assessment teams have also found that the pastureland is completely depleted and denuded resulting already in a significant loss of livestock along with pretty chaotic and desperate migration of pastoral population moving from one place to another in search of pasture without success. At the time when the assessment missions took place, a significant number of livestock deaths had already occurred and the HR team could see and verify this problem throughout the exercise. In addition to that, it was ascertained that the market conditions are extremely unfavorable to all socio-economic groups of the pastoralist both because of the extremely deteriorated livestock body condition and low demand for the livestock. New waves of destitute pastoralists are now moving to the nearby urban centers.

The assessment report recommends the need to intervene urgently in all affected areas to prevent an imminent risk of a large scale livestock death and starvation of the effected population. Recommended interventions include large scale emergency water trucking, rehabilitation of existing boreholes, emergency cash intervention, long-term alternative livelihoods, and provision of animal drugs.

2. Background information

The pastoral areas visited by the assessment team, particularly the Sool Plateau, are drought prone livelihood zones, which has experienced several years of prolonged droughts (for instance between 2000 and 2004) whereas the last four rainy seasons have either almost completely failed (like the Gu season in 2009) or were far below the normal2. It is also worth to noting that the Sool Plateau has until recent been the epicenter of the environmentally destructive charcoal industry which, along with pro-longed and recurrent droughts, frequent water trucking and occasional excessive livestock in-migration, accelerates the environmental degradation in the area.

As direct result of the above mentioned naturally-occurring problems (e.g. recurrent droughts) and the humaninduced environmental disasters (including the increased run-off of the rain water due to the deforestation among other causes), the renowned prime pasturelands in the assessed areas are now denuded and dusty plains. Consequently, the livestock production has collapsed. This environmental crisis has in turn a multiple negative impacts in a variety of ways on the livelihoods of the local populations.

On the other hand, the water crisis has been only worsening since early months of 2009 aside from two or three weeks in May. The cost of water to households is becoming prohibitive due to maintenance needs and the distance involved in trucking. Poor households used to rely on debt to meet their needs and pay when they received remittances or they have sold livestock; however, dwindling remittances and unsalable livestock (because of the poor body condition and low market demand) most households are no longer credit worthy. Other factors that are compounding the looming humanitarian crisis in the key pastoral areas in the North include also generalized economic crisis, high levels of debt on the part of the average household (particularly pastoralists and the destitute HHs), erosion of the traditional copying mechanisms and the social safety nets, and distress copying mechanisms which undermine the likelihood of rapid recovery of livelihoods.

3. Areas assessed

Horn Relief drought emergency assessment team carried out the first rapid assessment between 6th and 9th of June (2009) in Sanaag to assess mainly the consequences of the failure of seasonal Gu rains of 2009 with particular emphasis on the impact on the pastoralists’ livelihoods. The following livelihood zones were the focal areas of this assessment;
Sool Plateau
Gebi valley
Golis mountains and some coastal villages of Sanaag

The sample villages and other areas covered by the assessment team included Ceel buh, Ballibusle, Hingalool, Damallahagare, Wardheer, Sibaaye, Baraagahaqol, Dhahar, Kaladhacda, Awsane, Elayo, Laskorey, Golis Mountains and the pastoral grazing land in between these villages.

Having realized the emergency situation in which the pastoralists concentrated in some areas of the Sool Plateau were facing, particularly the lack of pasture, between 24th and 27th of June 2009, HR team undertook a second assessment mission in pastoral areas of Western Sanaag (Awrbogays, Booda, Fadhi Gab, Ban- Adde and Sarar plains), North-Eastern Sool region in Hudun (Bohol, Ceel Lahelay and Dogoble) and Ainabo (Qori Dheere and War Idad) districts as well as Eastern parts of Togdheer region in Somaliland (Qoryale, Ina Afmadow and Beer near Burao). The overwhelming majority of the population in these areas is pastoralist living in various pastoral settlements and small rural village. According to FSNAU baseline, the pastoralists make 80-90% of the population in Sool Plateau3. Hence, the local population depends heavily on livestock as source of food, income and employment.

4. Objectives of the assessment

1. To assess the impact of the failed Gu rains on the availability of pasture and water
2. To assess the current food (in)security conditions of pastoral and semi-pastoral communities
3. To assess livestock migration patterns and pasture availability in the areas
4. To make recommendations for appropriate response to the current crisis

5. Methodology of the assessment

Prior to the mission, the relevant secondary data was reviewed. During the assessment mission, the team visited a sample of pastoral households to collect information; along with the direct observations, the team undertook also informal key informant interviews, individual household interviews as well as Focus Group Discussion sessions. Keeping in mind the fact that the majority of the humanitarian agencies and donors are not on the ground, the assessment methodology used for this rapid field assessment included participatory video both as an information collection method and as advocacy tool4 to share with other humanitarian agencies and donors. To achieve the objectives of the assessments, the visited villages were selected randomly even though such aspects as the “pastoral importance” of the area and the concentration of the livestock and human populations at the time of assessment were also weighed.

6. FINDINGS

61. Food (in-) security

Food availability and accessibility of the poor households is crippled by the lack of income sources and lack of access to credit and reduced social support. Consequently, as copying strategy, the pastoralists have reduced their daily meals intake from 3 to 2 in most cases but also, some times, even only one single daily meal has been reported. Generally, it was felt that at the time food was available at the local markets but too expensive for poor pastoralist households (particularly in the far inland pastoral areas with poor road network) whose main income sources, as mentioned above, have dried up because of the long-lasting expensive water trucking, dwindling remittances, high levels of debt, poor condition of the livestock body, low demand for the livestock (also as consequence of the rough seas in the Hagaa season which makes difficult the export of the livestock) and lack of external employment opportunities. Hence, by the time of the assessment mission, the biggest cause of food insecurity was the food inaccessibility due to poor purchasing power rather than the food availability. Also, the livestock production for internal consumption at the household level has decreased abnormally with respect to what would be the average situation in this period of the year. As a result of poor body condition, milk is not available, which will not have only a major impact on income of pastoralists but also on nutrition particularly for children. Consequently, high levels of hunger have been observed in the pastoralist communities in the surveyed areas. The table below illustrates the variation of prices of several staple food items over the last 15 months. Despite the apparent insignificant increase or, in some cases the reduction of the staple food prices, it has to be noted that the purchasing power and the overall livelihoods condition of the pastoralists has further deteriorated with respect to the situation in the same period of 2008.

Practically speaking this would mean that food was more accessible in the same period in 2008 when it was significantly more expensive than now because of the collapsed purchasing power of the pastoralists and the erosion of the alternative livelihoods strategies and/or sources of income such as the remittances. In addition to the destitute pastoralists from the previous droughts, in particular the 2000-2004 drought, new pastoral drop outs are being witnessed in villages throughout the region in ever increasing numbers.

6.2 Rainfall

Apart from pockets in Dhahar district that have received insignificant erratic rains and attracted a large number of livestock from neighboring districts and villages, the three major livelihood zones of Sanaag region (Golis, Gebi Valley and Sool plateau) have almost completely missed the seasonal Gu rains of 2009 (April— June). Before this failed Gu, the preceding three rainy seasons (Deyr season in 2008, Gu season in 2008 as well as Deyr season in 2007) were also either very poor or below the normal.

6.3. Water

The Sool Plateau is not known to have important natural water sources. In fact, historically, this important pastoral region relied heavily on berkeds and ballis. The successively failed or poor performing last rainy seasons caused a long-lasting acute water shortage in the area both for humans and animals. Normally the Gu rains are to replenish water sources and berkeds and ballis are expected to be full. However, the team estimates that 90% of berkeds and all ballis in the areas assessed were unusually dry in June (e.g. the important pastoral villages of Ceel Buh, Habarshiro, Hingalol, etc.).

To cope and reduce the negative impact of water shortage usually pastoralists rely on very expensive water trucking from far-off boreholes. Currently, the average price of one barrel of water (200 Litres) ranges between 4 and 5 USD. The water trucking distance has been gradually increasing as the availability of pasture became increasingly illusive, which makes water more expensive. The few boreholes in the area are functioning to their highest limits with frequent breakdowns. At this point in time, in the best case scenario, it is certain that the water trucking will last at least until the upcoming Deyr season expected in October.

Along with Horn Relief, it seems that UNICEF has been also carrying out water trucking in some areas in Sanaag region. However, given the magnitude of the water shortage and livelihoods crisis, this is far from being enough to cater for the current needs. In fact, Horn Relief is facing increasing pressure on the part of an ever increasing number of communities and villages asking to be included in the emergency water trucking.

NO. FOOD ITEM PRICES IN MARCH 2008 (USD) PRICES IN JUNE 2009 (USD)

1 Rice (50 Kg) 28.9 30
2 Sugar (50 Kg) 38.5 32
3 Flour (50 Kg) 30.8 25
4 Cooking oil (1 Lit.) 1.6 2.1
5 Pasta (10 Kg) n.a. 10

6.4 Pasture

The prime grazing areas like Gebi valley and Sool Plateau are reduced to a denuded and almost barren dusty soil. This is a very unusual situation during the Gu or even following the following Hagaa season. According to the camel herders, at the time of the survey, the camels could browse or graze only around 20% of their daily fodder intake needs and, as a result, there is a persistent camel death in all pastoral settings in Sool plateau which is mainly caused by starvation. In addition to that shoats are experiencing unbearable feed shortage in all livelihood zones of Sanaag.

Large scale in-migration in May 2009 to the surroundings of Dhahar district, where some pockets of rain had fallen initially, has caused an almost irreversible degradation of the edible plants and destructive overgrazing. Due to the severity of the drought, the search for pasture and water has led to pastoralists desperately migrating more frequently from one place to another. These erratic and abnormal migration patterns are also increasing the debt burden of pastoralists due to the cost of transport for their livestock.

Because of this unusual and alarming situation, HR’s second assessment mission in Western Sanaag, Eastern Sool and Eastern Togdheer, was undertaken to gauge migration patterns and migration opportunities to traditional areas for pastoralists in the Sool Plateau and Gebi Valley in times of hardship. However, the assessment mission could not identify any migration opportunities in these regions as there was equally no pasture available in these other vast areas. In effect, the pastoralist communities in all areas covered by the mission were more or less in the same condition and facing similar hardships. It is also well known that the Gu rains failed other neighboring regions such as Bari and Nugal as well. According to information released by the Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA) for Puntland on the 4th of July 2009, in some areas like Hawd Plateau around Buhodle and surrounding areas “some of the pastoralists lost all their livestock wealth and others are at the edge of losing it”.

Furthermore, HADMA warned that a new wave of destitute people from the pastoral areas is heading to the rural villages and towns. Similarly, the Somaliland Governor of Sanaag region held a press conference in Erigavo that was aired by the Hargeisa-based satellite Horn Cable Television (HCTV) on the 15th of July 2009 on the worsening drought emergency in Sanaag region. According to the Governor, Sanaag is the hardest hit region in Somaliland whereby hunger and water shortage along with acute lack of pasture for livestock are the worst problems faced by Sanaag communities. According to the Governor, there are high rates of livestock death with dead animal carcasses lying everywhere.

Figure 3 - Denuded barren land that used to be a prime pastureland (near Wardheer, Sanaag)

Therefore, one of the elements that heightens the magnitude of this current drought is the lack of migration opportunities for pastoralists as a traditional coping strategy to save their herds. There is virtually little to no migration opportunities for pastoralists which will result in further and massive death of livestock. Local Pastoralists are predicting 70% of their herds will die before the deyr rains.

6.5 Livestock condition and (re-)production

The effects of several consecutive poor seasonal rains reduced the reproduction rate of all livestock species compared to normal seasons. In addition to that, the body condition of all livestock species is very poor and are emaciated, particularly sheep and camels.

Moreover, based on the information obtained from the interviewed pastoralists, HR estimates that, from December 2008, Sool Plateau pastoral households have lost 30 to 35% of their shoats and 20% of their camels as a result of starvation and common diseases like Helminthiasis and tick-borne diseases. This is in addition to the 2001-2004 drought where over 60% of shoats were lost and 80% of camels. Like then, camels are now dying which is a clear indication of the severity of the current crisis. These deaths have degraded the herd sizes of pastoralists. Furthermore, the body condition of the remaining livestock is extremely poor and the animals are not saleable.

As already mentioned, to try to mitigate the disastrous impact of the crisis, the pastoralists employ some typical distress coping strategies such as reducing daily meals even by two-third to prioritize and divert whatever meager income they have to cater for the external household expenditures such as water trucking while also culling all newly born goat kids and lamps irrespective of the future asset depletion. Figure 4 - Dead livestock near Sibaya village in Eastern Sanaag (June, 2009)

6.6 CURRENT INTERVENTIONS

Water trucking

The presence of humanitarian agencies on the ground has been minimal in the most of the surveyed areas. However, because of this long-standing water crisis, in May 2009, HR began emergency water trucking in Sanaag which is currently serving water needs for both humans and livestock. As of the third week of July 2009, a total of nineteen localities are currently served. Likewise, since May 2009, Horn Relief has been supporting four boreholes in Badhan, Dhahar, Elbuh and Armale with fuel, filters, engine oil, spare parts and rapid response technical team which intervene within hours in case of breakdown. UNICEF has also been conducting water trucking in smaller parts of Sanaag region as well. However, while there is no doubt that the current intervention by both Horn Relief and UNICEF have alleviated some of the needs, it is equally obvious that these limited interventions fall far below what is needed.

7. Concluding remarks

Pastoralists are facing high debt burden, low remittance, poor body condition and death of livestock due to severe water and pasture crisis, no income from milk or livestock products, and most critically there are no migration opportunities. In fact, the pastoralists and other vulnerable groups are facing an extremely unfavorable market conditions. Overwhelmingly these indicators are signs of severe and worsening crisis in the areas resulting in low purchasing power and food insecurity of most pastoralists

In addition to large number of destitute pastoralists from previous droughts (e.g. the 2000-2004 drought), more pastoralists drop outs are entering villages on a regular basis

At the end of June 2009, an estimated one-third of the livestock had already perished (particularly lactating camels and sheep). The body condition of the remaining livestock is very weak either for the purpose of internal household consumption (milk and meat) or for the market. Furthermore, the local pastoralist experts predict that, as it stands now, 70% of the livestock will perish before the next Deyr rains (by the end of September)

The acute water crisis and the lack of adequate pasture has also affected almost all regions surrounding the Sool Plateau as in far as Eastern Togdheer in Somalilad and Bari region in Puntland are concerned. This fact prevents the affected pastoralists to deploy the age-old copying strategy of the mobility and migration from one place to another place.

While natural pasture is not available for the livestock, in the short medium term, there is no other alternative fodder or supplementary feeding source in sight
Other important supplementary sources of income such as the remittances or alternative employment opportunities are also under stress because of the current global recession and weak overall local economy
Despite the livelihoods crisis of the pastoral sector, the prices of the stable foods and other essential Non-Food Items (NFI) remain high in relation to the fast declining purchasing power of the pastoralists

The presence on the ground of the humanitarian agencies in the assessed areas is very low. Given the magnitude of the crisis, it will not be easy to intervene in a comprehensive way to prevent further deterioration of the emergency situation in a timely fashion nor will it be possible to mitigate effectively the already far reaching and multiple negative impacts of the current emergency. However, the above described situation calls for an urgent, comprehensive and multi-faceted response to avert a major humanitarian disaster.

8. Recommendations

1. More sustained and extended emergency water trucking is needed urgently to cover more areas, more people and more livestock

2. Due to poor purchasing power, poor pastoralists and destitutes have no income to meet basic food and non food needs. Therefore, it is recommended that an emergency cash intervention take place immediately. The increased debt burden that is threatening the economy of the entire area increases the relevance of the emergency cash transfer as it also boosts the local economy.

3. The provision of water containers alongside the emergency water trucking is necessary as people in remote pastoral areas have been facing difficulties in collecting and storing the water.

4. Greater and more extensive support for the functioning boreholes with new engines and other vital spare parts, and fuel should be granted until the current emergency ceases, i.e. until (normal) Deyr rains.

5. Create alternative livelihoods for the increasing destitute people dropping out from pastoralism. 6. Because of the lack of adequate water and pasture, it is predictable that the common animal diseases will be occurring more frequently. Availing drugs for the treatment of the livestock would also be needed. Furthermore, if rains arrive, further livestock deaths will occur and the need for animal health services is more acute for already weakened livestock exposed to rainy weather conditions.

7. It is imperative that humanitarian organizations and local authorities review critically their current policies and presence on the ground in favor of the “border” regions and pastoralists. The disputed nature of most of the assessed areas results in limited international aid presence and very little or no information on the drought conditions. Thus, due to this lack of information and lack of presence for quick interventions, response is seriously hampered and delayed.


Somaliland is Undermined by Tribal Chauvinism

http://harowo.com, July 30, 2009, By Mohamed F. Yabarag.

From the outset, Somaliland is peaceful, democratic, tolerant, and inclusive; a place where the rule of law is abided by all its citizenry and where people are equal in the eyes of the law. Is it? If you dig deep and explore further, however, you will come up with a different picture, an astonishing picture entirely different than what was portrayed of the country over the years. You will a see a country held back by tribal divisions and whose relative gains in terms of peace and social cohesion over the years is about to be reversed by a combination of events that are the products of its medieval and unjust social and political system – tribal power sharing.

Tribal power sharing should have been a short term solution, but seems to be staying put for a very long period, if not permanently. And this is bad news for all of us.

When most people were expecting Somaliland to take further strides towards democratization and possible statehood, it hit head on a brick wall. A process of undoing of what was achieved over the past 18 years seems to be under way in earnest. All those achievements made over this period with the support of perhaps the most peace-loving but clan-sensitive people in all Somali-inhabited territories are about to be reversed by an incompetent government and a society that failed to realize time and again the perils of tribalism.

Nowadays, tribalism is the buzz word in Hargeisa and elsewhere in the country. You look no further than the tribal websites of Somaliland to see how things are bad and getting nastier by the day. Somaliland may have been in relative peace for a long period of time, but it was never at ease with itself. The system on which it based its short and long term strategic policies - a power-sharing based entirely on tribal quota - is untenable and fragile to say the least.

Every clan is suspicious and will always be about the intentions of the other, hence prepared to defend its ground and beliefs to the bitter end at the expense of national unity. For instances, if a government minister is relieved from his post, his replacement will come straight from his immediate clan or sub-clan, even if a better candidate for the job is available elsewhere. Even the educated class is not immune from this craze. Either they are overwhelmed by the majority nomads, or have become willing partners of this tribal madness. They are at the center of this lunacy. There is no social cohesion in Somaliland; only fragmented tribes who are all jostling for privileges and political posts, often unfairly.

The fact that we put more faith on tribal power sharing than effective government institutions exacerbates our problems further. What we have now and seem to be proud of is tribal quota. Those with smaller and insignificant tribes (insignificant only in the eyes of big tribes) will never be able to reach their potential highs under this unjust system. Government institutions exist only in name and serve the interest of the ruling party as well as a few tribal chiefs who switch their allegiances depending on who has more money than the other. Despite the good name they amassed over the years, the un-elected and mostly illiterate Guurti are currently the worst of all.

The over-dependence on tribal power sharing system and the lack of trust in the existing government and civil institutions makes all clans edgy, suspicious and fearful of losing their standing in the tribal hierarchy that is part and parcel of Somaliland’s social system.

As we have seen on many occasions in many parts of the country, the simplest of incidents can trigger a tribal skirmishes which sometimes leads to all out war between communities in the same locality, often leading to the demise of innocent bystanders who are not part of the conflict like those murdered between Gabiley and Dilla road in a broad day light. The fact that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are still at large and protected by their members in higher places in Gabiley and even in the central government is an illustration of how tribalism is effectively shielding criminals from justice in Somaliland. According to the latest reports from Ruqi, a village about a few miles from the disputed area, local farmers are constantly being terrorized and harassed by Gabiley militia that has the full support of the local government officials to the extent that they did not plough their farms this year.

Even the leader of the opposition Kulmiye party, Ahmed Siilaanyo, has shied away from condemning these murderers outright for fear of losing votes in Gabiley region. In an interview with the BBC’s Ahmed Saeed Egeh, instead of condemning the Gabiley murderers, he waffled on the issue and blamed everything on the government, not because they failed to apprehend the culprits but because of what he perceives a government’s failure to implement an earlier arbitration which favoured the Gabiley militia. This land dispute between the brotherly communities in Ceel Bardaale is a typical example of what is in store for Somaliland and how such incidents can break up the country into tribal fiefdoms. If people in Somaliland think they are immune of what is happening in other parts of Somaliland, notably Mogadishu and its immediate environs, they are living in cloud cuckoo land. There is potential banana skin everywhere.

Despite the efforts of Somaliland elders to diffuse the conflict between the aforementioned communities, the next battleground is already drawn as other clans, who are not part of the dispute, have already been drawn into the conflict to support their clan kinships. This may even further escalate if not properly addressed.

The recent national registration system in which all Somaliland regions have swelled their ranks to a ludicrous level is another example of how the whole Somaliland society prefers to gain favours through a fraudulent tribal means. The head of Inter peace recently admitted in a BBC interview that they will never be able to correct the “server problem” in the same way crimes cannot be eliminated from streets. Disappointing but true statement! The next presidential election may further be delayed because of the inability of Somaliland government and its institutions on one side and the uncompromising attitude of certain die-hard regions who want the continuation of the status quo on the other.

On the other hand, the so-called political parties are divided along tribal lines. There are no ideological and political differences as such between the three main parties. The only differences being which tribe supports which party i.e. tribal allegiance. The chairmen of these parties will never allow to be challenged for the leadership of their respective parties until they retire or bow out for their own sake.

Ahmed Siilaanyo fought tooth and nail to avoid challenge for Kulmiye leadership, while President Rayaale has won the Udub leadership without facing a single contestant. He simply walked away with it. Faisal Ali Waraabe reiterated on more than one occasion that he will not allow anyone to challenge him because he “built the party from scratch and would not allow an outsider to walk into the leadership”, his words. In effect, he is saying over my dead body! An attempt to form alternative political parties for the disenchanted and disgruntled has exhausted following government insistence that no such parties are allowed by the constitution in spite of Somaliland lawyers saying on the contrary. Somali Landers are in a vicious cycle. In this perspective, their current choice is “take it or leave it”.

So, what is the solution to this immediate and acute problem? Although I would continue and make a few comments of my own about what the possible solutions may be, I would also appreciate if the reader takes time and makes his/her say on this.

First and foremost, whichever government comes to power in the next election (if there is an election) should make institutional-building as its priority number one in order to minimize the over-dependence on the unfair tribal power-sharing system. Not only the country badly needs institutions, but it needs independent and effective government and civil institutions that are free from tribal bias and government manipulation. If citizens know government institutions such as police and others will do their job effectively and bring criminals before a court of law that is not only independent but seen to be fair and independent in the eyes of the public, the role of tribal arbitration will be minimized.

Somaliland government should empower its institutions and minimize the role currently played by its growing number of tribal chiefs, who seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. Tribal chiefs have become a de facto institution in Somaliland and have almost taken the roles normally reserved for government and civil institutions. How can someone who declared his allegiance to his clan can be trusted and be fair? Highly unlikely!

Moreover, the country’s growing intellectuals, both in and outside the country, should take a lion’s share in this effort by educating the public about the pitfalls of tribalism and how relying on it heavily can be catastrophic and create more divisions. There are so many social problems facing us today, but I believe tribalism is the deadliest of all.


Time to remake Somaliland’s political parties: Maintaining the Guurti’s traditional conflict resolution

29 July 2009, http://www.somalilandnation.com/

Various positive descriptions and adjectives, such as the following, have been attributed to Somaliland: “Africa’s untold success story’, ‘Oasis of peace and democracy, ‘The healthiest democracy between Israel and Tanzania’, etc. All these positive attributes reflect the progress made by this country. They signify achievements that are appreciated and welcomed worldwide, which are based on attestations by scholars with human hearts and representatives of democratic consciousness of our time.

However, these positive reactions, responses and admirations from democratic minded world personalities should not take Somalilanders to the far edge of optimism and self-complacency. Life is a continuous process and the need to realize more progressive and profound successes is ‘essential today than it was yesterday’. Therefore, the need to continue endeavoring on the same path and to stay on course is more imperative today than ever. The way to move in the right direction is to reflect on the experiences of the courageous and definitive efforts made by the Somaliland people and government and the sacrifices made for the peace-building and democratization that earned them international appreciation. Indeed, there are clear signs of shortcomings that need to be reviewed and reconsidered, with the aim of coming up with strategies for new solutions and remedies.

The recent political predicament and its frustrating effect on Somaliland’s ambition to hoisting the banner of the first multiparty democracy in a Somali soil, followed by amicable agreement based on consensus, has uncovered conflicting aspects and tendencies in the political process by revealing both strong points and weaknesses of the system. This contradictory thesis poses questions that need to be addressed in order to elevate the experience gained to a higher level of awareness.

These conflicting tendencies do not denote retreat or relapse, but apparently they reflect the progress achieved as well as the downsides of the process of the transition to democracy. Moreover, it is an affirmation that multiparty democracy is a historical choice dictated by universally accepted truth. This also confirms the need to react to challenges ahead and to seize attainable opportunities. It is also an expression of the eminent aims and objectives of the people and leadership to be part of a world in which conflicting but increasingly interdependent interests become basic norms of daily life.

Consequently, to speak the language of the 21st century, that reality of co-existence and interdependency is seen as imperative for a better and balanced integration into the global economy and culture of Contemporary Civilization of mankind.

However, ambitions are something and actual realities independent of man’s willingness and his desires are quite something else. The socio-economic and political conditions that we intend to change can not be done overnight. It would require time and effort, particularly if the aim is to bridge the gap between two historically different ideals and value systems; conventional pre-industrial types and contemporary patterns.

This is where Somaliland was trying to combine these two systems in one main stream. And although a lot have been achieved, the disparities between the two lay far beyond the possibilities of one generation to accomplish such tasks, taking the historical complexities and implications into consideration, irrespective of the high expectations involved in realizing democracy and modernity all-at-once.

However, the temptation to move in that direction was unavoidable, but it signaled an attempt on our part to bridge the gap between Nomadic-Pastoralist mores of Customary Law, an unwritten Code of Conduct, and globally accepted one-man-one-vote ideals based on Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Kant and David Hume ideas about ‘Social Contract’. This marriage of two distinctively different ideologies gave Somaliland’s political system a unique feature.

What went wrong is convincingly related to the weaknesses and downsides of the democratization process, not as an idea, but as the way people have practically behaved. Whether these weaknesses represent structural drawbacks or are simply warning signs about difficulties caused by the transition from nascent to more mature phase in the democratization process is a question that needs to be answered. In my view, they are true to both. Structural because of the dynamics at work in the underdeveloped realities we live in, and transitional because of the problems induced by the move from traditional system of governance (Shir-Beeleed) to multiparty democracy.

Therefore, the source of these difficulties, although generally related to these objective realities, still reflect internal constraints in the political system embodied mainly in the existing political parties, their essence and forms, and the complexity of their tasks.

Where transformations are needed most

Somaliland institutions, like any other post civil war situations, are still fragile and need to be fostered and nurtured like an infant, which is an important reason why an early warning and timely actions are required as key to institutional renovation. To sort out and identify the sources of difficulties as well as the means and ways to adjusting them, in order to avoid repeating them, constitutes a critical responsibility. Awareness to this responsibility would open the way to renovation in the area of democratization and institutional building.

Political parties in the modern nation-state societies are the brain and central axis of the political system. Experience of the post-colonial African political history confirms that the degree of success of democracy depends on the extent of maturity and sophistication of the political elite. In this regard, the idea of party building takes in to account the fact that political party is a living organ whose life begins as a baby and whose growth passes through different stages of development. Party should be built, not only by investing effort and money, but through knowledge and by studying other experiences, in order to learn from mistakes made by others rather than your own.

Requisite conditions to realizing democracy also depend on the degree of leadership qualities, vis-à-vis honesty, integrity and wisdom. “Without developed political parties, democratization would look like an attempt in building a castle at the sky”. This is an established fact of life. One cannot expect from a party which itself does not practice democracy to bring about democratic order. The Arabic proverb “One can not deliver what himself is lacking” is very much in point here.

With regard to Somaliland, the following areas would be the issues where party building policy should take into account or consideration:
?Avoid confusion between clan and party, a matter that creates party identity crisis and contradictory allegiances and loyalties, and as a result leads to puzzlement of choice between partisanship and kinship.
?Give appropriate attention to the realization of internal party democracy. This is central to the existence of a party as a popular and grass-root institution.
?Party structural organizations need to be esteemed and strengthened and their independence respected, regionally and at the district level. This would help promoting self-motivation and strengthen their initiatives and decisions as party institutions.
?Parties should be connected to the people, not only through clans and sub-clans, but through the creation of true party alliances through organizations, such as women, youth, trade unions and businesses etc.
?Parties should give confidence to their constituencies that they are consciously committed to protecting and promoting their interests.
?Avoid confusion between strategy and tactics, general and specific, national and regional, clan and nation.
?Minimize the role of the individual in the party leadership in order to promote a culture of collective leadership, and to educate young generations with democratic consciousness. The party should not be a battle for power struggle only, but should act as a school of thought and forum for ideas.
?Define the ways and means to democratic changes required (through violence or peaceful means?).
Most of the political mistakes committed by political parties in Africa are based on confusion in relation to forms and instruments of democratic change. Worthy to mention here is that in this juncture of history, democratic changes are acceptable only through peaceful means. Bloodshed or even bloodless military coup d’etats should be ruled out.
?Develop clear, pragmatic and credible foreign policy based on equality of all nations and their interdependency of interests.

Conclusion:

Next year, on 26 June, Somaliland will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain. This important event will signify a national landmark in the history of this country, its achievements as well as the setbacks and holdups experienced by its people throughout these years. However, the wisdom that “history has been made in the way people have acted” is very much in point here. Our mistakes and successes have contributed in making this history. The best way to honor this historical anniversary would be to highlight the lessons learned and to address the most pressing and relevant questions, particularly in light of the outcome of the most recent experiences.

In the short term, in order to build a national consensus, it is of paramount importance to carry out a free and fair presidential election. This is a small step towards a one thousand miles long journey and a tough evolutionary transformation to the modernization of the country. The key to this missionary task is to engage in a real battle, an all-out war against all negative phenomena that emerge on the way.

The issue of who should lead the strategic mission of democratization and modernization has also an outmost importance, and needs to be taken seriously. The fact that the ruling party is the one who was given mandate by the voters, and whose credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the people is always at stake, everywhere in the world, dictates that the process of creating an environment of tolerance and maintaining national consensus rests wit it. The opposition parties have no lesser responsibility in taking up their part of the national task of creating constructive approaches and attitudes necessary to playing the political game in a civilized manner.

The central point of my argument is that there are a number of detrimental tendencies that are enough to destroy the achievements gained since 1991, and which are able to generate serious obstructions and stumbling blocks against progress. We must face these challenges seriously and with determination, because remaking the history of this country depends on the extent of our awareness and sensitivity to the transformations that are necessary for overhauling the political system of Somaliland. This will necessitate a concerted effort on the part of the political parties to make Somaliland’s fledgling democracy a success, while at the same time maintaining the traditional mechanism of conflict resolution and crisis management of the Guurti.

Adam Musse Jibril can be reached: adamjibril@hotmail.com


Somaliland Government Expel Inter-peace Representative

Hargeisa, 30 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somaliland government expelled the representative of Interpeace from country. A group of Somaliland police arrived at Maansoor hotel where the representative was staying and guided him to the airport where he is flown out of the country.

Armed forces have been seen inside and around Maansoor hotel this morning during the operation. Witness says the representative was prevented to have any contact with the media as well as members of the electoral commission.

This comes after the government said opposed the list of the voters proposed by the organization.


Ethiopia, Somaliland Envisage Exploiting Berbera Port

Hargeisa, 30 July 2009 (Somalilandpress, Source: ENA) – Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said ongoing talks between Ethiopia and Somaliland on the use of the port of Barbara are well in progress.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tekeda Alemu on Wednesday held discussions with Somaliland Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdulahi Mohammed Duele.

The discussions between the two officials were focused on the ongoing consultations to enable Ethiopia to utilize Barbara port.

The two ministers also discussed ways of further bolstering economic and trade relations between the two sides.

Ethiopia’s use of the port is believed to further strengthen existing economies and trade ties between the two nations, according to Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency’s Website.


Five Somalis sentenced to death in absentia for bombs

HARGEISA (Reuters Jul 29th, 2009 ) – A court in breakaway Somaliland sentenced five men to death in absentia Wednesday for masterminding suicide bomb attacks in 2008 that killed at least 24 people.

The synchronised blasts in October 2008 — at Ethiopia’s embassy, the local president’s office and a U.N. building — were blamed on Somalia’s militant insurgent movement al Shabaab, which has links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

The blasts in the northern territory, which has been relatively stable since declaring itself independent in 1991, showed the militants could operate beyond their southern strongholds and were one of Somalia’s worst suicide attacks.

Officials at the Regional Court of Hargeisa, capital of the enclave, said the five convicted Somalis were on the run in other parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

Somaliland carries out the death sentence by shooting.

Of 11 men in its custody, all from Somaliland, nine were released then re-arrested following a prosecution appeal, officials and witnesses said. That angered relatives who had to be dispersed by police firing in the air outside court.

Two were sentenced to 18 months’ jail for obstruction of justice, court officials said.

Unlike anarchic southern Somalia — where hardline Islamist rebels are battling a weak government and chaos has often reigned for the last 18 years — Somaliland prides itself on having a working judiciary and government structure.


List of the Problems That Have Consistently Plagued the Somaliland National Voter Registration Project.

Inter-Peace, July 29, 2009

1. The National Electoral Commission (NEC), and the political parties insisted on a sophisticated biometric (fingerprint identification) system, against the explicit advice of Interpeace and the donors; both recommended using a simpler manual system in order to avoid potential delays from an electronic one that Somalilanders would not be familiar with and that would require recruiting extra personnel and obtaining materials from abroad.

2. Donors provided about $10 million for the development and implementation of this ambitious system, of which over $ 5 million was directly contracted to Somaliland vendors and the employment of thousands of Somalilanders to implement the programme.

3. The Voter Registration system was seriously abused during its implementation, with widespread corruption and systematic fraud, resulting in the failure to record the fingerprints of more than half of all registrants. In other cases, over 150 registrations were made with a single fingerprint at the same registration centre, or through photographs instead of in person.

4. NEC refused to accept additional oversight support in the field or to implement proposed measures to curtail abuse of the registration system. These abuses are illegal and those responsible should be held to account but not a single case has been brought to court despite ample evidence.

5. In order to rescue the voter registration exercise, a second back-up facial recognition system (FRS) was introduced for which the system was not originally designed. This is an unprecedented and technically complex exercise, which was undertaken in order to rescue this unique opportunity for Somalilanders for both voter registration and a national identity card - as well as to protect the huge investment and effort incurred. All political parties agreed that the system must be saved and the complex FRS system was developed to do that.

6. The technical challenges in addressing the abuse of the voter registration system were aggravated after the 29 October 2008 attack in Hargeysa, which led to the withdrawal of the Indian IT company that was developing and supporting the implementation of the system.

7. New technical experts took their place and enormous efforts have been made to identify and eliminate the most flagrant violations, and to produce a Final Voter List that is credible and technically sound.

8. There is no National Registrar in post because the NEC and the parties have failed to reach agreement on this for the past 16 months. The acting National Registrar has been fully trained by Interpeace and intimately involved in the development of the Final Voter List.

But, as the acting official, he cannot build a team of qualified Somaliland technicians to run the Server and the Final Voter List process, which were the original intent and the commitment of NEC. Interpeace has serious concerns about management of the Server after the Voter List is produced in the absence of a National Registrar and trained staff to manage it.


Livelihoods at risk as drought worsens in western Somaliland

IJARA, 29 July 2009 (IRIN) - A prolonged drought is causing large-scale livestock deaths, increasing the vulnerability of residents living in the mid-western Gabiley region of Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland, local officials say.

"We have not experienced such drought before," Mohamed Ahmed Abdi, Gabiley governor, said. "Before, the drought affected either the people on the farms, or the animals, but now it is affecting [both]."

Abdi said agro-pastoralists living south of the main road connecting Gabiley to Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital, and neighbouring Kalabait area, may have lost up to 70 percent of their sheep to the drought.

Dahir Abdillahi, a resident of Ijara village in Gabiley, told IRIN: "I had 50 sheep two months ago but they started dying off one by one; when it rained a week ago, another 10 died, leaving me with only 10 sheep."

Abdi said carcasses of dead cows littered most of Ijara; camels are better adapted to drought.

According to the Food Security and Nutritional Analysis Unit (FSNAU Somalia) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an acute food and livelihood crisis was emerging in parts of Somaliland due to recent rain failure, compounded by three previous seasons of poor rainfall.

In its June quarterly food security and nutrition brief, FNAU said pasture resources in areas that experience moderate rains had been quickly depleted due to large livestock in-migration from neighbouring rain-deficit areas.

"There is a high level of livestock off-take, as well as high abortion rates, culling of kids/lambs, and drought-induced livestock diseases," FSNAU stated.

Food availability

According to Ijara resident Mohamoud Mousa Warsame, the village has lost some 1,500 sheep and more than 600 cattle.

"I am in my 60s [yet] this is the first time we [have] experienced such drought," Warsame said. "I had more than 50 sheep, but 20 died in the drought; two of my cows have also died."

Warsame said sheep were the most affected due to a lack of pasture and the start of the cold weather had escalated the deaths.

The region has suffered two consecutive failed Gu [long] rains seasons.

According to Warsame, about half of Ijara residents have run out of food reserves and were surviving on one meal a day or skipping meals altogether.

Sharing food among neighbours has increased as has the sharing of reserve food with the animals.

"Villages such as Taysa, Bodhley and Boqor have also been affected by the drought," said Mohamed Da'ud Ahmed, chairman of the Ijara village elders, adding that there was a need for food aid to help cope with the drought, which has lasted about 10 months.

According to Amina Mohamoud, a mother of six from Ged-abeera village near the border with Ethiopia, the drought was increasing food hoarding.

"I came from Ged-abeera to Ijara looking for food to buy but because of the drought, people who have some sorghum or maize are refusing to sell," Mohamoud said.

Food prices have soared. "Before, we used to buy 1kg of sorghum and maize for 2,000 Somaliland shillings each [US$0.28] but now this has doubled to 4,000 shillings [$0.57] - if you can find a place to buy it from," Mohamoud said. "We used to sell our animals to buy food, but nowadays all our animals are dead."

Desperate to feed their surviving livestock, residents are collecting grass loosened during ploughing in the fields for their animals.

"I have come to look for food for my animals," an elderly Indha-Deeq Mohumed Ahmed, told IRIN in the Galolay area, southeast of Gabiley. She has been left with three cows out of a herd of 30.

Ahmed, who was collecting grass, said: "My son went to town to work... and you can see me working at this age."

More people are moving to the towns. "We do not have the exact statistics, but we know that several hundred agro-pastoralists have moved to the urban centres where they are living with relatives," said Aden Muhumed Badde, mayor of Gabiley.

He said the region's residents had been living in difficult conditions for almost two years with little support.

"We do not have the facilities to support these people. We are calling on the government and the international community to send food and medicine for the people and the animals affected by the drought," Badde said.


SOMALILAND UPDATE: Radio Journalists Arrested Two Weeks Ago For Allegedly Inciting Inter-Clan Violence in Broadcast Appear in Court for Third Time

Witness in Trial Says Nothing in Broadcast Caused Violence

29 July 2009, http://www.freemedia.at Two Somaliland radio journalists arrested on 13 July for allegedly inciting inter-clan violence with a broadcast appeared in court for the third time on Tuesday, Hargeisa-based Media Rights Somaliland (MeRiS) told the International Press Institute (IPI) on Wednesday. At the hearing, witness Mohamed Nur Kaahin, a Gebilay province elder, testified that nothing in the defendants’ 10 July radio broadcast was responsible for inciting the inter-clan violence that occurred the next day.

Mohamed Osman Mire and Ahmed Suleyman Dhuhul, the director and news editor of Radio Horyaal, respectively, were arrested at the radio station on 13 July after covering incidents relating to clan violence on the border between the Gabiley and Awdal provinces in west Somaliland. Radio Horyaal had covered failed talks between Gebilay elders and the president.

Two days later, Somaliland’s attorney-general successfully requested that the courts shut down Horn Cable TV for its coverage of the ensuing violence. HCTV was closed down for allegedly “inciting violence” and “spreading false information.”

The officers who arrested the two Radio Horyaal journalists reportedly did not have a warrant, and the men have not been charged with any crime – which makes their detention illegal under the Somaliland press law, according to Media Rights Somaliland (MeRiS) director Mukhtar Hassan.

According to MeRiS, several journalists and human rights activists were in attendance in court Tuesday. Mohamed Nur Kaahin, one of several witnesses called, is a Gebilay elder who was present during the meeting with President Dahir Riyale that preceded the inter-clan violence.

After giving details of the presidential meeting, Mohamed noted that the discussion had ended without result. He observed that Radio Horyaal’s broadcast was not responsible for inciting violence.

IPI is concerned that the arrest and detention of Mire and Dhuhul, and the suspension of HCTV, are an attempt to clamp down on the independent media in the run up to presidential elections in September. It calls on the Somaliland authorities to immediately release the two journalists and reopen HCTV.


Somalia: Somaliland police shut down Horn Cable TV, detain journalist

HARGEISA, Somalia July 29 (Garowe Online) - Police authorities in Somalia’s breakaway republic of Somaliland shut down an independently owned television station and arrested a journalist, Radio Garowe reports.

Ms. Nimo Samriye, a reporter for Horn Cable TV in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, told Puntland-based Radio Garowe that heavily armed police units raided the TV station’s offices “without warrant.”

She stated that Mohamed Abdi Illig, the head of news section, asked the police officers if they had a warrant.

“They [police] then arrested him [Illig],” Ms. Nimo said. No officials from the Somaliland administration have spoken publicly about the raid or the journalist’s arrest.

Somaliland authorities have accused local media of misreporting clan violence in the region and therefore "threatening the peace." But journalist watchdog groups have accused Somaliland President Dahir Riyale of power abuse ahead of the September presidential election.

Meanwhile, two journalists with Radio Horyaal remain in jail and have not been brought to court yet.


The Delay Is Not Due To The Production Of The Voter List.

Interpeace Press Statement, July 28, 2009 - 09:02 Hargeysa, Somaliland,

Following a series of recent accusations reported in the Somaliland media, Interpeace is compelled to clarify a number of points.

In 23 July 2009, a newspaper reported comments by an official of the Ministry of Planning, accusing Interpeace of working illegally in Somaliland because it is not registered under the Ministry. Under Somaliland law, Interpeace is not required to register as it is present only as a PROJECT with contracted consultants and does not have or intend to have a permanent presence on the ground. Interpeace does not have its own premises and its consultancy work is carried out from the National Electoral Commission (NEC) offices; its status is that of a consultant (not of an international organization established in Somaliland). Furthermore, Interpeace is present at the invitation of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC) and supported the successful parliamentary elections in 2005 and the construction of the Parliamentary Building under similar terms. Interpeace has asked for an official citation from the Ministry of Planning to clarify these points.

There have been other media reports (for example on 20 and 21 July 2009) of accusations against Interpeace with respect to the Voter Registration System and the Voter List. While every effort is being made to address the massive abuse of the system during the registration period - and to finalize the Voter List for 27 July 2009, Interpeace notes for the record that any delays in technical preparations for the presidential election on 27 September 2009 do NOT relate to the production of the Voter List.

Background on the voter registration system,

1. The National Electoral Commission (NEC), and the political parties insisted on a sophisticated biometric (fingerprint identification) system, against the explicit advice of Interpeace and the donors; both recommended using a simpler manual system in order to avoid potential delays from an electronic one that Somalilanders would not be familiar with and that would require recruiting extra personnel and obtaining materials from abroad.

2. Donors provided about $10 million for the development and implementation of this ambitious system, of which over $ 5 million was directly contracted to Somaliland vendors and the employment of thousands of Somalilanders to implement the programme.

3. The Voter Registration system was seriously abused during its implementation, with widespread corruption and systematic fraud, resulting in the failure to record the fingerprints of more than half of all registrants. In other cases, over 150 registrations were made with a single fingerprint at the same registration centre, or through photographs instead of in person.

4. NEC refused to accept additional oversight support in the field or to implement proposed measures to curtail abuse of the registration system. These abuses are illegal and those responsible should be held to account but not a single case has been brought to court despite ample evidence.

5. In order to rescue the voter registration exercise, a second back-up facial recognition system (FRS) was introduced for which the system was not originally designed. This is an unprecedented and technically complex exercise, which was undertaken in order to rescue this unique opportunity for Somalilanders for both voter registration and a national identity card - as well as to protect the huge investment and effort incurred. All political parties agreed that the system must be saved and the complex FRS system was developed to do that.

6. The technical challenges in addressing the abuse of the voter registration system were aggravated after the 29 October 2008 attack in Hargeysa, which led to the withdrawal of the Indian IT company that was developing and supporting the implementation of the system.

7. New technical experts took their place and enormous efforts have been made to identify and eliminate the most flagrant violations, and to produce a Final Voter List that is credible and technically sound.

8. There is no National Registrar in post because the NEC and the parties have failed to reach agreement on this for the past 16 months. The acting National Registrar has been fully trained by Interpeace and intimately involved in the development of the Final Voter List. But, as the acting official, he cannot build a team of qualified Somaliland technicians to run the Server and the Final Voter List process, which were the original intent and the commitment of NEC. Interpeace has serious concerns about management of the Server after the Voter List is produced in the absence of a National Registrar and trained staff to manage it.

Independent evaluation of the voter registration system and production of the Voter List

The independent experts who evaluated the voter registration system and production of the Voter List briefed the technical representatives of the political parties on Tuesday 22 July. Some key points as follows:

1. The voter registration system is transparent and the database is sound
2. There is almost no exclusion (disenfranchisement) of genuine registrants, which is impressive, significant and important.
3. The Automated Fingerprint Identification (AFIS) and Facial Recognition (FRS) systems are both sound but not operating together as well as expected.
4. This is because the introduction of the secondary system (Facial Recognition) introduces huge complications into the programming, which was done to rescue the voter registration after the abuse of the Fingerprint Identification System.
5. No system can catch all fraudulent registrations [just as no justice system can catch all criminals and perpetrators]; but the system is allowing through too many double/ multiple registrants, resulting in an unrealistic total of 1.2 million registrations
6. This can be dealt with by adjusting one of the parameters. On 23 July, NEC approved the adjustment of the parameter to produce a more accurate and robust Voter List that eliminates more of the double/ multiple registrants. The Company that devises the program has already presented the corrections and the server is running the new program.

While the Somaliland media is commended for its intention to inform the public of current dynamics, it is unfortunate when Somaliland’s official business is addressed primarily through the newspapers rather than managed by the wisdom of its institutions and leaders, as entrusted to them by the law of the land and on behalf of the people.

Interpeace reiterates to the Somaliland people that any delay in holding the presidential election is not due to the production of the Voter List. The real problem is the fulfillment of the necessary preconditions to hold the election, summarized in the donors’ communication of 27 May 2009. If the Somalilanders are going to exercise their right to vote on September 27, it is essential to start the preparation NOW but this is not possible until the foundations for a credible election are put in place by the Somaliland stakeholders.


Somaliland: Press Release By Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Written by Foreign Affairs, Jul 28, 2009
Somaliland Liaison Office, Washington DC
Ministerial visit, July 13—24, 2009
Press release

Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Abdillahi Mohamed Duale was in a working visit in the U.S. during the period of July 13—24, 2009. The visit was in line with a periodic review of the relations between the two countries comprising a follow-up on pending issues and consultations on areas of mutual interest. The Minister was joined by Dr. Saad Noor, Somaliland’s Representative to the U.S.

The Somaliland delegation was received first by the President Obama’s advisor on Africa in the Executive building of the White House. It was followed by a substantive meeting with Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs and his senior staff including Deputy Assistant Secretary for East and Central Africa. The meeting was also attended by a high level official from the Department of Defense.

The two sides explored the current situation in the Horn of Africa region as well as the sub-region. Threats to security, i.e. religious extremism, terrorism and piracy were thoroughly discussed. The Somaliland side presented a comprehensive review of the challenges Somaliland faces in this regard as well as its needs to safeguard its security. Furthermore, the two sides discussed in detail Somaliland’s need for social and economic development and the role the U.S. may play to assist. Progress made thus far in Somaliland’s democratization program was commended, and the two sides agreed on the need for its successful completion. The U.S. side underlined the importance of holding the presidential election scheduled to take place in Somaliland in September 2009 on time. The Somaliland side concurred.

The Somaliland delegation is pleased to note that the above discussions were among friends. They were cordial and constructive. The two sides were in agreement; they were on the same page on all the issues discussed. Therefore, contacts, consultations and visits will continue.

On the economic front, the delegation met with the Deputy Administrator of USAID and his East Africa staff and the World Banks’ Director of Operations and Strategic Planning. The purpose of the meetings was to review assistance from the two donors with the view of having them coordinate their programs for better results.

The delegation also met congressmen and senior advisors in the House and the Senate. Likewise, it held meetings with a critical mass of policy and development specialists including strategic planners, legal scholars, academics and journalists.

At the end of its activities the delegation was the guest of honor in a dinner and discussion event hosted by the Ambassador of South Africa in Washington. Other guests included the ambassadors of the countries of the South African Development Community (SADC). Earlier in the day the delegation had a meeting with Uganda’s Foreign Minister and his country’s ambassador to the U.S.

Dr. Saad Sheikh Osman Noor, Somaliland’s Representative to the U.S.


New book on Somaliland hailed a major scholarly success

Source unisa.ac, Jul 24, 2009

The South African Institute of International Affairs (Wits University) and the Nelson Mandela-initiated Institute for Global Dialogue have co-published a new book entitled Somaliland: an African struggle for nationhood and international recognition.

Authored by Unisa’s Prof Iqbal Jhazbhay of the College of Human Sciences, this book has received a number of accolades.

Internationally-acclaimed father of African studies, Prof Ali Mazrui, in his foreword to the book, describes this newly-published book as "a major scholarly success". Founding President of the Somali Studies International Association, Prof Hussein Adam, refers to this inter-disciplinary study as "the first substantial study covering both the domestic and international dimensions of Somaliland’s quest for nationhood and recognition … a timely and brilliant analysis."

This new published manuscript stands out as the first South African authored study of the Somali predicament. Prof Jhazbhay "contributes significantly to our understanding of the Horn of Africa in the context of wider international forces. It also contributes to a number of different theoretical concerns --- ranging from the role of culture in nation-building to the emerging forces of radical Islam, and from the nature of post-war reconstruction to the dilemmas between self-determination and regional integration."

Unisa’s Department of Religious Studies and Arabic is the only South African academic department which offers a graduate module and advanced research on Islam and politics in the Horn of Africa.


Somaliland:An African Struggle For Nationhood And International Recognition

Written by Professor Ali Mazrui, Jul 26, 2009

This study contributes significantly to our understanding not only of Somaliland, but of the predicament of the Somali people as a whole. Today, they are scattered over what used to be British Somaliland (capital Hargeisa), former Italian Somaliland (capital Mogadishu), former French Somaliland (now Djibouti), Ethiopia (the Ogaden), and Kenya. These are the five fragments they have been split into following the European scramble for Africa in the 19th and early 20th century.

In 1960, amid considerable euphoria, the former British Somaliland united with the former Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic. This emerging post-colonial state was widely regarded as the closest an African country could be to a classical nation-state. The new Somali republic was homogeneous in language (almost everybody spoke Somali), homogeneous in religion (almost entirely Muslim), homogeneous in political culture (based on a system of clans), and almost homogeneous in economic lifestyle (mainly pastoralist, but reinforced by fishing along the coast).

In the course of this study, we retrace some of the steps taken by Somalia during the first 30 years of independence (1960 to 1990). The earliest years promised the evolution of a pastoral democracy. Somalia was close to being the most open society in postcolonial Africa. There were high levels of political participation, open debates, and impressive political eloquence in the emerging parliamentary culture.

Against such a background, it would have been tempting to study the Somali story not as a case of nation-building but as one of national demolition, not as a case of political development but as one of political decay. Part of the originality of Iqbal Jhazbhay’s approach has been to transform this agenda. Instead of focusing on the disintegration of the Somali Republic, he has turned his attention to the resilience of Somaliland, which pulled out of the union in 1991.

The Somali Republic can be studied as a case of national disintegration, but Jhazbhay draws lessons from the experience of Somaliland as a case of national integration. The wider Somalia illustrates political decay, while Somaliland is an experiment in political development – what Jhazbhay calls a ‘bottom-up approach to nation-building’. Because of high levels of poverty among people such as the Somali, social scientists have often been drawn to political interpretations based on economic Somaliland Prelims.

causality – indeed, some scholars studying developing countries have been drawn to neo-Marxist forms of economic determinism. Jhazbhay has resisted the lure of economic explanations. He has opted instead for the primacy of culture as the central determinant of Somali behaviour. Thus he regards the main social forces at work among the Somali as ‘culturally rooted, and internally driven’.

The pre-colonial legacy inherited by all Somali people was a culture of rules rather than rulers. According to scholars, before Europeans arrived, Somali society was one of ‘ordered anarchy’. Governance was ultimately based not on a state’s monopoly of physical force but on consensus-building within and among clans. There were no kings, sultans or emirs.

The imposition of European colonial rule interrupted the tradition of ‘ordered anarchy’. Nascent statehood was initiated. The colonial state certainly insisted on a monopoly of physical force. When the British and Italians departed, and their two former Somali colonies united into one republic, there was, for a while, ‘order’ without the ‘anarchy’. This stable ‘order’ was soon undermined by what Jhazbhay calls ‘the interplay of internal and external forces’. Mogadishu and its surroundings became increasingly militarized. The pre-colonial tradition of consensus-building within and among clans was rapidly eroded. For a while, the Somali people experienced not ‘ordered anarchy’ but ‘ordered tyranny’, especially under Siad Barre. But the element of ‘ordered’ declined, and was replaced by ‘tyranny and disorder’.

The situation was exacerbated by the ‘interplay between internal and external forces’ during the Cold War. While the United States and Soviet Union competed for the allegiance of Mogadishu, consensus within and among clans was increasingly undermined. Tension between the clans of former British Somaliland and those of former Italian Somaliland escalated, and Puntland was caught in the crossfire. In the course of the 1980s the Somali Republic descended into chaos – a condition of post-colonial anarchy without pre-colonial order.

Jhazbhay takes us through the different stages of resistance, collapse, and conflict – illustrating what Ahmed Yusuf Farah has described as a ‘culture of locally based reconciliation-processing’.

After Northern Somalia’s withdrawal from the Union in 1991, the Horn of Africa experienced ‘A Tale of Two Somalias’. The Somalia of Mogadishu continued to be a case of anarchy without order, while the Somalia of Hargeisa was gathering momentum as a case of ‘bottom-up nation-building’, rooted in culture and energized from within.

To what extent were the differences between the Somalia of Mogadishu (chaotic) and the Somalia of Hargeisa (relatively stable) due to the differences Somaliland Prelims. between their former imperial powers (Italy and Britain)? Was the Italian legacy part of the explanation for Mogadishu’s chaos? Was the British legacy part of the explanation for the relative stability of the Somalia of Hargeisa? Jhazbhay does not buy such a simplistic explanation; instead, he ascribes the relative stability of Hargeisa to ‘the efficacy of Africa’s approach to bottom-up nation-building’.

Some Somali analysts in Hargeisa regard the British legacy as relevant for relative stability, and the Italian impact as contributory to chaos. But this was not because British political culture in the United Kingdom was more stable than Italian political culture in Rome. Hargeisa analysts have argued to me that British rule interfered less with indigenous clan culture in Hargeisa than Italian assimilationist pretensions had done in Mogadishu. British rule had therefore been less culturally intrusive than Italian imperial rule.

Jhazbhay has not tapped these issues of comparative colonial policy as much as he might have done. But he does allow for their relevance in ‘balancing tradition with modernity’, and in ‘comparative elite formation’ under different colonial powers.

The Somali have a love--hate relationship with the Arabs, but a great commitment to Islam. I am delighted that Jhazbhay found my concept of ‘Afrabia’ useful in the Somali context. He is also fascinating on what he describes as ‘the Global Islamic Civil War’ in relation to the ‘War on Terror’. Although the Somalia of Hargeisa has been less fundamentally affected by the politics of Islamism and Al-Qaeda than the Somalia of Mogadishu, Jhazbhay has confronted these issues of radicalized Islam frontally. These are forces affecting all Somali in one way or another.

Jhazbhay’s study of the people of Hargeisa sometimes comes close to being a case of participant observation in the tradition of British social anthropology. He has conducted wide-ranging interviews both within Somaliland and outside, and socialized with the people to get to know them better. He has also agonized with them about the stressful politics of international recognition.

Hargeisa people have often complained that the international community is ready to spend millions of dollars on Mogadishu because it is chaotic, rather than spending any money at all on Hargeisa, precisely because it is stable. The international community is less interested in investing in the nation-building of Hargeisa than in the explosive tumult of Mogadishu. Jhazbhay has sympathized with these lamentations. This study contributes significantly to our understanding of the Horn of Africa in the context of wider international forces. It also contributes to a number of different theoretical concerns – ranging from the role of culture in nation-building to the emerging forces of radical Islam, and from the nature of post-war Somaliland Prelims.

We salute it as a major scholarly success.

Professor Ali Mazrui, Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities, Binghamton University


Somalia: U.S. Congressman rejects to meet with Somaliland official

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 25 (Garowe Online) - U.S. Congressman Donald Payne has refused to meet with an official from the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, inside sources tell Garowe Online.

Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Du'ale, Somaliland's foreign minister, was recently in Washington, D.C., and asked to meet with the U.S. Congressman but he was "rejected" on at least three separate occasions, the sources added.

Congressman Payne, who chairs the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, organized a Congressional hearing on Somalia and invited officials from the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu, and the self-governing regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

The June 25 hearing in Washington, D.C., was attended by Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed "Farole" and a Somali Embassy official read a statement on behalf of TFG Foreign Minister Abdullahi Oomar.

But Somaliland Foreign Minister Du'ale, who initially accepted to attend the congressional hearing, canceled at the last minute after demanding a "separate panel" to focus on Somaliland's separatist agenda.

This demand was rejected by Congressman Payne and the hearing's organizers, who forwarded the argument that "common issues" were covered at the hearing, namely humanitarian aid delivery, the counterterrorism effort and the anti-piracy campaign.

Meanwhile, Somaliland opposition parties have accused President Dahir Riyale's administration of failing to take advantage of a venue in Washington, D.C., to present Somaliland's case for independence.

President Riyale continues to face domestic pressure and international criticism, including charges that the Somaliland administration has violated press freedoms by arresting two radio journalists and shutting down an independent television station this month.


The Bum and the Khat Affect (Short Story)

Hargeisa, 26 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – In khat circles there is a well known argument that once a man finishes chewing he suddenly gets an uncontrollable urge to be with and around beautiful women (they call it the kac sii tuf theory). For most chewers, of course, this is a simple fantasy that is unlikely to ever be fulfilled. But for Ali BM things were different.

In Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland as in many other parts of Africa, men that drive their own cars and are known to have a bit of money are always popular with the ladies. Ali BM was such a man.

Today, like every day, he was chewing in his usual place. He looked at his bag of Khat and noticed that he was almost running out. He wanted to top up his khat and maybe stick around for an hour or two more. Alas he knew his reputation and good name would suffer if he were spotted still chewing at such a late time! After struggling with his thoughts and cravings for a few minutes he finally decided to give up and head home.

Once home, he had a quick bath, changed into his nicest pair of trousers, put on his best shirt then showered himself with his most expensive bottle of perfume. Ali was planning to go out to dinner with a beautiful lady. Initially, It was not clear if this was due to the K.S.T theory or if Ali had planned this dinner in advance! However, once he was in his car and started to drive aimlessly around the Hargeisa streets, it became obvious that Ali was planning to randomly pick his queen tonight.

This was Ali’s lucky night. It was dark, cloudy and rainy. People were scampering along the sidewalks and trying to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. Ali, on the other hand, was cruising and looking out for suitable prey. Since all the people were walking ahead of him and he had no chance to check out their faces on such a dark night, Ali had to adjust his criteria for choosing his lady tonight. ‘They’ll all have to be judged on the state of their bottoms’, he said to himself and started chuckling.

The rain was a godsend and Ali had a perfect chance to assess all the candidates as they scurried to the nearest shelter. Some resembled flags fluttering in the wind. Others reminded him of wobbling jelly. Some bottoms looked like a couple of badminton shuttlecocks whilst others looked like a pair of satanic pumpkins!

Finally, as he scanned the roads ahead and considered the various bottoms ambling about, Ali noticed a beautiful pair of bottoms gliding around in unison. They were beautifully similar and they moved to the beat of the hip-hop song Ali had blaring from his car sound system. Left, right, left right left. Left, right, left right left. It was beautifully mesmerising and Ali wondered if he was still slightly intoxicated from his earlier khat session.

He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him and that he was suffering from some sort of optical illusion. Surely nothing could be so perfectly round, so symmetrical and move with such grace. What’s more, it was not just one bottom but TWO! The hallucination was still continuing and Ali thought he spotted beauty, wisdom, virtue and intelligence in the way those two bottoms were bouncing around in the air as their owners distantly walked to their destination.

Ali started to slow down as he drew parallel with the owners of the heavenly bottoms and shouted the words “inakeena aan roobka idinka sii qaadee”! One uttered an incomprehensible exclamation and, upon hearing her gruff voice, Ali got ready to hear some endless insults. Instead, she commenced to pray for him and praise him for being so kind and helpful. Ali was still uncomfortable with her husky voice and told her (and her friend) to hurry up and get in the car.

He was looking in his rear-view mirror as the car doors opened and the two new passengers got in. Ali almost chocked on his own saliva! The heavenly bottoms had beards and what he thought were dresses and hijabs turned out to be white robes and head coverings! Ali took a real good look at both men then commenced to slam his hands against the steering wheel and laugh at his own foolishness. ‘Take us to the mosque at the end of the road, brother’, said one of the heavenly bottoms. Ali nodded his head and started the car as he carried on loudly chuckling to himself.

This was a few years ago. Ali had proven that the K.S.T theory actually works but has not touched one stick of khat ever since.

By: Rooble Mohamed, Hargeisa, Somaliland


Hargeisa: Of Goats and Great Hope

Fiona Moola

African Cities Reader, http://www.africancitiesreader.org.za/reader/chapters/21_FM.pdf

Hargeisa is a city where the streets have no names and the houses have no numbers. But no one here is lost. Of course this precludes a postal system; but snail mail seems particularly passé. Hargeisans are at the cutting edge of the information age and are highly connected both locally and globally. In bizarre pastiche, apparently ‘pre-modern’ nomadic pastoralism meets ‘post-modern’ cyber-connectivity. Most Hargeisans carry a mobile phone or have access to one. The tallest building in Hargeisa is the seven or eight storeys of the mobile phone network provider. And tall glass buildings, like obelisks before them, seem to be some kind of phallic index of power and progress. Make what you will of the happy coincidence of cyber-connectivity and multi-storey development. The number of internet cafés by far exceeds the number of traffic lights – there seems to be only one malfunctioning set. But hang on to your handbag if you get googled by a goat. Hundreds of goats appear to have the freedom of the city; along with stray dogs, skunks and baboons which venture in for scraps from a countryside which, for a number of reasons, faces gradual desertification. (Unlike other urban spaces, the border between country and city in Hargeisa is porous.) The goats, incidentally, are pets kept not for slaughter, but for the pleasure of children who also drink their milk. So goat milk in a sense is on tap, while water for most people is not. Water in Hargeisa is a precious commodity.

Well water is supplied from metal drums drawn by mules. Piped water is something of a luxury enjoyed by the elite and the well represented NGO community. Banking Hargeisa-style is an absolute cinch. Apart from the state bank, the only operator in town is the money remittance company, Dahabshiil. ( The other company was put out of business in the early, excessively zealous days of the paradoxically named War on Terror.) Here you can enjoy a limited range of banking services at a fraction of the cost of the service charges of ‘proper’ banks. Apart from livestock, the Somaliland economy relies on remittances of Somalilanders in the diaspora, for whom the call of kinship (at the moment) remains strong. The money remittance company has branches in eighty countries in the world and operates based, believe it or not, on trust in the largely non-literate nomadic regions of Somaliland. If you’re inclined to do your banking outdoors, buy foreign exchange from the currency hawkers on the street – pronto! – with no filing through x-ray security doors, no tellers behind shatterproof windows and best of all, no queues! (Not that they need any of this in Dahabshiil either.) They use wheelbarrows here for cash in transit. There are no heists. At worst the wheelbarrow, loaded to twice its height with banknotes, can overbalance in a pothole. Potholes occur with an alarming frequency and an even more alarming magnitude. Old women also hawk thousands of dollars’ worth of gold jewellery in the street with only plastic sheets to guard against the rain. Hargeisa experiences some petty crime, and the rate of violent crime is extremely low. The security checkpoints at the main routes into the city are a safeguard mainly against the political banditry of the south which threatens to spill into Somaliland. The Somaliland judicial system mirrors the political system, which is a dynamic (and sometimes uneasy) equilibrium of state, Islamic and traditional law.

If, in other African cities, the 4×4 is frequently the only accessory which offsets with adequately garish consumerist verve bling-bling jewellery and his-and-hers pointy shoes, in Hargeisa the 4×4 is an absolute necessity. Most city streets constitute rugged terrain and where the roads are ‘tarred’, often they are the product of community initiatives and community funding. The city is intersected at two points by a river. There used to be two bridges which spanned the river at these points; now there is only one. The other bridge was bombed by the dictator, Siyad Barre, in the late 1980s. To reach Hargeisa University one needs to cross the riverbed, which becomes something of a survivor challenge after rains which have been coming less and less frequently.

They say that the city never sleeps. If cities are man-made spaces which fundamentally flummox diurnal rhythms, rendering day-time and night-time indistinguishable, Hargeisa by contrast is very different. By about lunchtime, most of Hargeisa grinds to a business but not social halt. By the early afternoon, most Hargeisan men seek the sociality of the little green leaf called qaat. Qaat is flown into the city daily and constitutes a significant percentage of trade with Somaliland’s big neighbour, Ethiopia. Qaat-chewing suppresses the appetite, slows down the body and focuses the mind. Qaat has since time immemorial been used by Somalis, but what has changed are the social rituals and economic context of its use. It is reported that ninety per cent of Hargeisan men chew qaat, with the habit growing in the shadows among increasing numbers of young women. Qaat is sold openly in the streets at little stalls. There are tea shops and dedicated qaat-chewing dens where men assemble in conviviality and conversation. If this sounds like a latter-day version of the coffee shops of Habermas’s eighteenth-century public sphere, perhaps it is, but at a disturbing social cost. The prevalence of qaat-chewing means that the working day in Hargeisa essentially ends at lunchtime, with chewing and talking going on late into the night and the hangover lasting until late the next morning. A large part of breadwinner income also goes into supporting the habit, creating family discord and domestic abuse. Significant health risks also attend continuous qaat use. To return again to the ubiquitous city goats; stalks and tough qaat leaves are frequently fed to the goats to increase milk production. The milk is fed to the children … say no more.

The ‘public sphere’ centred on the tea shops is extended by the relatively lively print media and somewhat constrained electronic media. Three daily Somali-language newspapers are published in Hargeisa, and one weekly English-language paper called the Somaliland Times – a remarkable achievement for a society that is predominantly oral, with a script and orthography for Somali standardised fewer than four decades ago. Interestingly, all four Hargeisa papers, which are distributed throughout the country, have the same editor who appears signally unafraid of courting controversy. The electronic media exist through state subsidy, perhaps explaining a noticeable failure of imagination. In the post-World War II era, Hargeisa was a renowned Somali cultural centre, with a thriving theatre. The bombing of the Hargeisa theatre in 1988, together with the ravages of the civil war, brought theatre culture to an abrupt close. Theatre has not been revived, but will hopefully be resuscitated in a few years’ time on completion of the theatre building on its original site, a project undertaken by the Somaliland Ministry of Culture and Tourism in conjunction with a philanthropist in the Somaliland diaspora. The theatre structure at present is about waist-high. (Incidentally, apart from self-help, the philanthropy of Somalilanders who have managed to make it accounts for most successful Hargeisa projects.) The Hargeisa of about five decades ago was also the Camelot of oral poetry. In fact, the most important ‘modern’ genre of Somali oral poetry, the heello, developed in Hargeisa. Most Hargeisans lament the decline in orature which, they claim, had its golden age about twenty years ago in the resistance to the authoritarianism of the Barre regime. Clearly, the art–politics dichotomy is not a consequence of the way in which poetry figures in this society. There is also in Hargeisa a handful of poets and novelists who quite mind-bogglingly write in English in a society mainly Somali-speaking and oral. English, for these writers, appears more suited to represent what is styled ‘modern’ experience and is an escape from the sometimes rigid strictures of traditional art and political criticism. In other words, these young artists can say what they like in a language their elders don’t understand. These self-reliant young writers create their own opportunities where none exist. Not only do they self-publish, but they also organise social gatherings (much like big and festive weddings) to read their work. And on the topic of weddings, weddings among the Hargeisa elite are much the same interface of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ as elsewhere in Africa, with bride and groom constrained in sweaty satin and razor-sharp suits, looking like they’d much rather be on a trek across the desert in jilaal, or the dry season. As almost everywhere else, the most widespread entertainment (apart from qaat-chewing, that is) is satellite television – and, yes, even in Hargeisa the regime of Hollywood is challenged only by the coup staged by Bollywood.

Hargeisa is a relatively young city, having been founded only in the late 1800s by a Sufi sheikh. It had to be rebuilt in the 1990s, quite literally out of the ashes of its 1988 bombing by Siyad Barre, based in Mogadiscio in the south. The city’s inhabitants have felt the fallout of the Ogaden war in 1977, which witnessed so many refugees fleeing into Somaliland that Somalilanders themselves were obliged to seek refuge elsewhere. Many of the refugees of the Ogaden war remain housed in Hargeisan school and municipal buildings. Hargeisa has endured the economic and political domination of the south, culminating eventually in brutal persecution. Most Hargeisans tell of life in a refugee camp, or of a family member killed or incarcerated. All Hargeisans know about the ‘Hargeisa Group’, a group of twenty-eight professionals whose initiatives to improve schools and hospitals were deemed seditious by Siyad Barre. They were tortured and held in solitary confinement for a period of almost seven years, during which one of their number tapped out in a kind of Morse code for his troubled neighbour in the adjacent cell all of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, his copy of which had not been removed by the guards. They have known resistance, insurgency and civil war.

Hargeisa is a city which has been reconstructed by Hargeisans upon mass graves of their kin. It is the capital city of a country which is a testament to a peace negotiated wholly through autochthonous Somali conflict-resolution techniques. Since self-declared independence in 1991, it has with varying degrees of success sought to integrate traditional principles of egalitarianism and pastoral democracy into the inevitability of a modern state formation. Class differentials have been inescapable. It is not internationally recognised, so has not enjoyed any of the benefits of bilateral aid and has not been able to develop the economic foundations of the modern state it seems it must become in order to survive.

What one sees on the streets of Hargeisa may not be much, but it is the product of the initiative, will and co-operation of Hargeisans, the people themselves. But Hargeisa, for various reasons, has reached an economic impasse. The position of Somalilanders in the international community is dependent upon the African Union, which has been put in the position of gatekeeper. Ironically, the policy of the African Union is to respect colonial boundaries to which Somaliland does conform. Hargeisans are holding their breath for change. But, as the self-reliant people of this city like to say … God willing.


SOMALILAND: Government increases attacks on press

New York, July 22, 2009. —The Committee to Protect Journalist condemns the government’s growing crackdown on the independent press in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland as September presidential elections near.

On July 13, Somaliland police arrested private Radio Horyaal Director Mohamed Osman and News Editor Ahmed Suleiman at the station, accusing them of inciting violence. The two were remanded in custody on Tuesday after a court hearing in the capital, Hargeisa, local journalists told CPJ. Osman and Suleiman are being held at the Criminal Investigation Department awaiting the next court hearing, Mustafe Abdi, president of the Somaliland Journalists Association said.

Police arrested the journalists after the station covered a July 9 meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and 25 elders over a land dispute between two clans, local journalists reported. Authorities claimed the broadcast sparked interclan violence the following day, the journalists’ association said.

On July 15, Judge Sheikh Hussein Warfa banned private radio and TV station HornCable, local journalists told CPJ. This decision reversed a previous verdict by the regional court that had rejected the attorney general’s petition to ban HornCable for “inciting violence” and “spreading false information,” said the station’s owner, Farhan Ali. The broadcaster has defied the ban and will appear in court on July 28, Ali added.

“As the September elections approach, it appears the Somaliland authorities are attempting to silence critical reporting,” said CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. “The Radio Horyaal journalists should be freed immediately and the charges dropped, and the ban on HornCable lifted immediately.”

HornCable Program Manager Abdu Hakim said he believes the government is trying to suspend his station after it covered violence that erupted on July 10 between two clans in El-Bardaleh. The attorney general accused HornCable of inciting further violence by airing footage the following day, HornCable Chief Editor Mohamed Abdi Ilig said.

Six soldiers were reportedly detained for listening to Radio Horyaal last week, the online news site Somaliland Globe reported. The soldiers allegedly disobeyed an order from the Somaliland Military High Command calling for all members of the armed forces not to listen to Radio Horyaal.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.


Approaching Somaliland Elections Signal Threats of a Media Clampdown

By Howard Lesser, Washington, DC, July 24, 2009

Tensions have been rising in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the period leading up to an election campaign and a 27 September presidential vote. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is condemning recent media arrests and government banning orders on a radio and TV outlet

CPJ warns that unless the courts dismiss the charges later this month and free two broadcast executives, a full-fledged crackdown by authorities may be gearing up in the breakaway territory.

“They see the independent press as being opposed to the president. And they’re afraid of any sort of criticism, so they’re trying to quash it down,” explained CPJ Africa program coordinator Tom Rhodes.

On 13 July, police in the capital Hargeisa arrested the director and news editor of private station Radio Horyaal on charges of inciting violence. The broadcasters continue to be held at the Criminal Investigation Department.

Clan violence broke out three days earlier after the station broadcast coverage of a land dispute between two clans, involving republic President Dahir Rayale Kahin and one of the republic’s two legislative bodies, a 25-member clan council known as the House of Elders. The CPJ’s Tom Rhodes claims the incitement charges, which try to connect the disturbances with sensationalized radio coverage lack substance

“I believe this is a directive made by one individual. I wouldn’t want to blame the entire Somaliland for this directive. But it does give you the impression of how they view Radio Horyaal as an opposition radio and an enemy to the government,” he observed.

Somaliland is an autonomous region of the Somali republic, which declared independence from the Somali republic in 1991 after the dissolution of Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre’s government. It has succeeded in establishing trade ties with neighboring Ethiopia, but Hargeisa’s sovereignty has not been recognized by any countries around the world.

“Somaliland is quite sensitive to international opinion, largely because they want that recognition of independence. They’ve come a long way compared to the rest of the country (the Mogadishu-ruled Somali Republic) in establishing a working government and a working, viable system. And so whenever there is criticism, it jeopardizes their chances of actually reaching their status of independence,” Rhodes explained.

He believes that domestic violence is a very sensitive issue for President Kahin since he represents one of the two clans in the current land dispute. The president was elected to his first five-year term in 2003, after assuming office the previous year on the death of Mohammad Hajj Ibrahim Egal. Presidential elections set for 31 August, 2008 had to be postponed until this September due to instability in Somaliland’s eastern regions.

CPJ is warning that as the elections approach, authorities are trying to silence critical reporting. Nine days ago, Judge Sheikh Hussein Warfa banned private radio and TV outlets HornCable in support of a petition by the country’s attorney general for reportedly inciting violence and spreading false information. The broadcaster has defied the ban and will attend a court hearing on July 28.

Meanwhile, Britain and Sweden reportedly have threatened to withhold funds for September’s vote if Hargeisa cannot resolve a corruption dispute within the territory’s electoral commission.


Appeal for release of Radio Horyaal journalists

Hargeisa, 24 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — On 13 July, two broadcasters from independent radio, “Radio Horyaal” were detained by police on orders from the attorney general and were taken to the Criminal Investigation Department for questioning – they remain locked up without charges.

Radio director, Mr. Mohamed Mire (Sayid) and news editor, Ahmed Suleiman (Dhuhul) both work for Radio Horyaal, an independent radio station in the capital, Hargeisa. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the government claims to arrest them for inciting clan violence in the Bardale farmlands.

The government, in its efforts, to stifle the free press and control the air waves has been actively weeding out all independent media organizations by harassing, beating and arresting them. The two highly respected reporters are the latest casualty of a campaign against media criticism by the government of Somaliland.

We demand from the Government of Somaliland to immediately release these two journalists who have not committed any crime but were merely performing their duties as journalists when they were arrested.

We, also, appeal to all human right organizations that advocate for the protection of human rights, free press and freedom of expression to join us in condemning the government’s crack down on free press. We demand the release of the two reporters without any further delay from this unlawful detention.

Democracy cannot exist in Somaliland without free empowered media.

Sources: Medeshi Media Group + Somalilandpress


Somaliland government increases attacks on press

New York, July 22, 2009. http://cpj.org --The Committee to Protect Journalist condemns the government's growing crackdown on the independent press in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland as September presidential elections near.

On July 13, Somaliland police arrested private Radio Horyaal Director Mohamed Osman and News Editor Ahmed Suleiman at the station, accusing them of inciting violence. The two were remanded in custody on Tuesday after a court hearing in the capital, Hargeisa, local journalists told CPJ. Osman and Suleiman are being held at the Criminal Investigation Department awaiting the next court hearing, Mustafe Abdi, president of the Somaliland Journalists Association said.

Police arrested the journalists after the station covered a July 9 meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and 25 elders over a land dispute between two clans, local journalists reported. Authorities claimed the broadcast sparked interclan violence the following day, the journalists' association said.

On July 15, Judge Sheikh Hussein Warfa banned private radio and TV station HornCable, local journalists told CPJ. This decision reversed a previous verdict by the regional court that had rejected the attorney general's petition to ban HornCable for "inciting violence" and "spreading false information," said the station's owner, Farhan Ali. The broadcaster has defied the ban and will appear in court on July 28, Ali added.

"As the September elections approach, it appears the Somaliland authorities are attempting to silence critical reporting," said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. "The Radio Horyaal journalists should be freed immediately and the charges dropped, and the ban on HornCable lifted immediately."

HornCable Program Manager Abdu Hakim said he believes the government is trying to suspend his station after it covered violence that erupted on July 10 between two clans in El-Bardaleh. The attorney general accused HornCable of inciting further violence by airing footage the following day, HornCable Chief Editor Mohamed Abdi Ilig said.

Six soldiers were reportedly detained for listening to Radio Horyaal last week, the online news site Somaliland Globe reported. The soldiers allegedly disobeyed an order from the Somaliland Military High Command calling for all members of the armed forces not to listen to Radio Horyaal.


Somaliland Cracking Down On Independent Media - Watchdog

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP)--Media freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned a growing crackdown on independent media by authorities of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland.

Two journalists of private Radio Horyaal were detained and a television station banned from broadcasting last week on accusation of inciting violence, the group said in a statement.

"As the September elections approach, it appears the Somaliland authorities are attempting to silence critical reporting," said Tom Rhodes, CPJ's Africa coordinator.

Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. Media houses have been routinely shut down by the authorities and many reporters, Somali and foreign, have been kidnapped by armed groups.


Somaliland: Faisal warns ‘danger within’

Helsinki, 22 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Chairman of Somaliland’s second largest opposition party, Faisal Ali Warabe, expressed concern over Somaliland’s current uncertainty while on tour in the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

He warned Somaliland could be in for difficult times unless President Rayale backs off from his current position and leads the nation in a new direction.

The chairman accused the president of economic mismanagement and weak leadership. “The President has carefully orchestrated a criminal corruption scheme and exploited the nation’s limited resources. As a direct result of the weak leadership, inconsistency and vacillation he is directly responsible for the unrests in the West since it falls directly under his leadership and administration” he told reporters.

Mr Faisal declared that he had spoken about the dangers in the horizon in the past and that there is no imminent threat from outside the country; he worries Somaliland is fast deteriorating under the strain of the present “debauched” regime. He said the only danger threatening Somaliland is the one within.

“Today, President Rayale has clashed with the international community after he refused to respect his people, his unwillingness to abide by the constitution, will not spare those that elected him, he crippled the nation and he refuses to replace corrupted commissioners as suggested by the donors” he added.

He signaled that he would not go quietly into the night if Rayale fails to meet election date-line and donors demand. He warned if funds for the election are suspended or frozen, “this would be the end of him.”

He concluded President Rayale will follow Abdullahi Yusuf and late dictator Siad Bare’s suit if he fails to meet election expectations as increasingly people are tired of his seven years of disastrous rule.


Doubts Grow Over Somaliland Elections

Hargeisa, 22 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Somaliland’s biggest donors have warned the country explicitly or implicitly that aid assistance for the election may be cut or ended unless there is a satisfactory outcome to the post-election crisis including the replacement of at least two members of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The UK, the biggest donor, Sweden, the second biggest donor, and number of other Western nations are currently in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to deliberate whether or not to release the funding for the Presidential election scheduled for 27 September.

The donors came under pressure after President Rayale failed to remove NEC chairman, Mr Jama Mohamoud, and his deputy, Mr Ali Bikalo, who had been accused of corruption and believe to be “inept and incompetent” for the job.

The British ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr Norman Ling, a Norwigian delegation and Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Anna Brandt are expected to travel to the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa today to deliver their decision to President Rayale, leaders of the opposition parties and the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament.

Many suspect President Rayale of stirring up political crisis and unrests in the young democratic state after failing to fulfill election premises for the third time. Recent tribal conflicts in the West and the arrest of independent journalists may have also left donors furious and alienated.

Now, the donors are reluctant to give, having in the past made mistakes of funding African states that never deliver the promises.

Donors expressed the importance of ensuring their money is put to good use and that Western taxpayers have right to know where their money is spent. The dilemma for donors is that cuts in aid certainly first hit those they’re intended to help: democratization in Somaliland and possibly stability.

When they meet later today, the donors will demand the removal of the two commissioners; who they feel can not be trusted with their money but most analysts believe President Rayale, would properly refuse and insist his government will fund 80 percent of the election.

More Somalilanders are getting frustrated with the current regime and the continues Presidential term extensions.


Somalia: 'Terror suspects' arrested at Somaliland airport

HARGEISA, Somalia July 21 (Garowe Online) - Two men suspected of being involved in Somalia's insurgency have been arrested at the airport in Somaliland, a breakaway republic in northern Somalia, Radio Garowe reports.

Gen. Mohamed Dubad, Somaliland's police commissioner, told reporters Tuesday that the two suspects were arrested after being found inside airport grounds without reason or permission.

The two suspects were immediately transferred to the Central Investigation Department (CID) in Hargeisa, where they were being questioned by local police, the commissioner added.

Somaliland authorities have been on high alert since suicide bombers targeted key government buildings in Hargeisa that killed 20 people in Oct. 2008.

Insurgents are waging a bloody guerrilla war against the U.N.-backed interim government in Mogadishu, and are increasingly using Iraq-style insurgency tactics.


Two Somaliland Journalists Arrested, Horn Cable TV Banned

Hargeisa, 21 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somaliland, two journalists working for Radio Horyaal were arrested on 13 July, for allegedly inciting clan violence, and local independent Horn Cable TV (HCTV) has been banned. The International Press Institute (IPI) is concerned that this signals a media crackdown in the autonomous region of Somalia, in the run-up to presidential elections in September.

On 13 July, Radio Horyaal’s director and news editor, Mohamed Osman Mire and Ahmed Suleyman Dhuhul, were arrested at the radio station in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. The journalists have been refused bail, and are currently being held at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). They are expected to appear in court on 21 July.

The arresting officers reportedly did not have a warrant, and the men have not been charged with any crime – which makes their detention illegal under the Somaliland press law, according to Media Rights Somaliland (MeRiS) director Mukhtar Hassan.

Two days after the arrests, independent broadcaster HCTV was banned in a judgement by Sheik Hussein Warfa Sigad, reversing a decision taken the day before by the Harseiga Regional Court. IPI sources in Hargeisa report that, as of last night, HCTV continued to broadcast despite the ban.

On 14 July, Somaliland’s attorney-general asked that HCTV be shut down for “inciting violence” and “spreading false information.” The request was denied in the first instance and approved on appeal.

Suspicions abound that the arrests and ban are politically motivated. Mukhtar Hassan told IPI: “Many people, including opposition parties, are saying this is a sign that the government would like to suppress independent media before the September elections.”

“The arrests of Radio Horyaal’s director and news editor and the ban on Horn Cable TV are a blatant attempt by the Somaliland authorities to consolidate control of their public image in the weeks prior to the election,” said IPI Director David Dadge.

“The government of Somaliland must immediately release Mohamed Osman Mire and Ahmed Suleyman Dhuhul and lift the ban on HCTV. When the media reports news it is fulfilling its public interest duty, even if the news is embarrassing for the president and the government.”

The arrest of Radio Horyaal’s journalists and the ban on HCTV came after the broadcasters covered incidents relating to clan violence on the border between the Gabiley and Awdal provinces in west Somaliland.

On 10 July, 25 elders from Gabiley were invited by President Dahir Rayale Kahin to the presidential palace to discuss an ongoing dispute between clans in Gabiley and Awdal – where the president’s home is. The elders were reportedly unhappy that a June ruling made by the Guurti (upper house), giving their clan certain land rights, had not yet been implemented by the President.

The session reportedly ended in dispute, and inter-clan violence broke out again the next day.

Police arrested Mire and Dhuhul because Radio Horyaal’s coverage of the meeting allegedly misrepresented events and incited the violence, the police chief commander told Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA) representatives on 14 July. But SOLJA’s Ahmed Mohamed Omar told IPI that Radio Horyaal had reported only that there “was no positive conclusion” to the meeting.

The attorney general, in turn, accused HCTV of having incited further bloodshed through its 11 July programming, which showed footage of that day’s violence between clan members.

Meanwhile, President Rayale’s office last Wednesday circulated a statement urging caution when reporting on the clan conflict. The statement accused some media of inciting violence and said that the sources behind media reporting on the conflict may be investigated.

Somaliland is a breakaway territory of Somalia, on the coast of the Gulf of Aden. It declared independence after the overthrow of Somali dictator Siad Barre in 1991 but its independence is recognized by neither Somalia nor the international community.

Somalia remains a notoriously dangerous place for journalists. According to IPI’s Death Watch, 18 journalists have been killed in the country since 2005. Several have been kidnapped or imprisoned. Among the journalists still being held are Canadian freelance reporter Amanda Lindhout and Australian freelance photojournalist Nigel Brennan, who were taken hostage in August 2008.

On 15 July, security guards in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region within Somalia, reportedly beat up Aweys Sheikh Nur, a reporter with Netherlands-based Horseed Media. According to sources, the guards attacked Nur with the butts of their AK-47 rifles after he took pictures inside a courtroom in the port city of Bosaso.

On 14 July, two French security agents reportedly posing as journalists were kidnapped from their Mogadishu hotel. Although IPI condemns the kidnapping, it is concerned at the reports that the men were pretending to be journalists.

“While the two hostages should be released immediately, it is unfortunate that they chose to pose as journalists. In a country where the lives of journalists are routinely at risk, actions such as this undermine the credibility of the profession and expose reporters to unnecessary risk,” said IPI Director David Dadge.


Somaliland: A Trip To The Unknown Part Five

Emily will be writing to Somalilandpress about her experience in Somaliland and will be offering tips to anyone who may want to visit the unrecognized republic along the way – discover Somaliland from a Non-Somali perspective. This is her fifth article – adopting their way.

Hargeisa, Jul 19 2009 (Somalilandpress) — I finally feel like I’m living the good life here in Hargeisa. It took a little while, but I’ve gotten used to calling people walaal [brother] and learned not to smile when negotiating a price since it foils my bargaining skills. I’ve adapted to changing my shower schedule to the afternoons when the power is off and I have all the time in the world, from the mornings when the water’s colder and I’m in a rush. From Borame to Berbera I have had the pleasure of swimming in the Gulf of Aden (wearing a dirac of course) and eating freshly plucked peppers which I didn’t know were spicy until my eyes welled with tears. Being here I have begun to feel more like an anthropologist than anything else. My favorite thing to do is hang out with whoever I can, and try to understand life here from their perspective.

I’ve also recently started taking Somali classes every day which I enjoy very much. Before coming here I had learned some Somali in the U.S. but at the time I didn’t realize how vastly different the dialects are in the south of Somalia versus in Somaliland and other regions. Most of my Somali friends back home are from the south, or as they call it here, “Xamar”. As a result, I speak using words from xamar, so people here that do understand me (and many do) like to tease me for it, and then a great many people just plain don’t understand some words which I worked hard to learn and have rendered themselves quite useless. Needless to say I now have a much better sense of the different dialects and also different clothes from different regions, so I’ve smartened up a bit.

A few weeks ago I stayed in the famous coastal town of Berbera, home to a huge port and as black and brown sand beaches whose shores host more camels than people. In Berbera I learned about the painful love story of Elmi and Hodan, and visited the bakery where Elmi used to work (“Father of Love Bakery”). Berbera felt peaceful, intensely hot and generally abandoned, so that the town was a sort of carcass of old buildings, rusted cars, and lackadaisical inhabitants.

I’ve had the chance to spend more time at the University of Hargeisa recently, and have included a picture here in case you’re curious. The students I’ve met are very eager and capable scholars and new programs are constantly developing. There is, however, a shortage of books in the library and for classes. Luckily online libraries help, but the classes are all held in English, the books need to be imported, and with no proper mail system here and the huge expense of DHL and Cargo for sending items, the lack of books is palpable. Nonetheless I have been very impressed with the caliber of the programs and curricula, and both the students and faculty are doing excellent and meaningful work. This weekend there is actually a literary festival here in Hargeisa which will feature poetry, theatre, and a book expo.


Somaliland and the “TFG mercenaries”

20 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) Unfortunately, in all societies you will find political mercenaries and Somaliland is not immune from this affliction. The recent arrest of a fleeing “MP from Somalia ’s TFG parliament” in Berbera is but one case. But, before I digress let me clarify a couple of points.

First of all, in this case, the term MP is being severely abused. This particular “MP” was neither elected nor did he perform any service to any constituents.

Secondly, the use of “parliament” in this case is another fallacy. This “parliament” is another concoction, formulated overseas. It was not directly elected nor is it democratic, nor has it ever drafted, debated or passed any laws.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly the so-called “Transitional Federal Government” has no jurisdiction over Somaliland , never has and never will.

So, let us return to these mercenaries who are out for their own personal agenda, whether it is for money, ideology, or power. No, not power, because these mercenaries from Somaliland are never given any power, they either become mouthpieces or tokens.

There are many of these mercenaries, there were some in 1991 and there still others in 2009, but they all have one thing in common, sooner or later, they have a strong desire to come back home to Somaliland. I wonder why?

It is a curios thing; off they go to Somalia , either lured by the dollar or some ideology based on the myth of “Greater Somalia”. To be fair, the latter ones have certain beliefs and in some way deserve a modicum of respect, but, they are a minority. The majority are basically for hire. Going back to the curios aspect, almost all of them have either fled Somalia and some were unfortunately murdered there. Better to be beggar in your homeland, than a corpse in a strange land.

Off they go to Somalia , either in Baidoa or Mogadishu , seeking dollars and expecting to made minister, MP’s etc, except what they fail to understand, is that there isn’t and there won’t be for a long time something resembling law and order and a political structure in Somalia.

Even more importantly, they don’t represent the people of Somaliland . They don’t speak for the people of Somaliland , they can’t consult the people of Somaliland , and since they were not elected by the people of Somaliland , they can’t enact any laws. In a so-called “parliament” of over 550 hollow “parliamentarians”, the ones said to be “representing” Somaliland are particularly superfluous.

To these mercenaries, whether they are “dollar seekers” or “ideologues”, here is some free advice; the mirage of “Greater Somalia” has dissipated. These days’ sovereign nations solve issues through dialogue and diplomacy. The union between Somaliland and Somalia has ended. It is time to accept the realities on the ground, Somaliland has reverted to its borders of June 26, 1960, and it is time for Somalia to get its house in order.

There are Somalis in Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia and all over the globe. There are cultural, social, economic links between all Somalis, and that will always be the case between Somaliland and Somalia , but a political union, never again. It is a sincere belief that the people of Somaliland have held for the last eighteen years and will continue to do so.


Somaliland police arrests Somalia MP

Berber, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe 20 July 2009)- The Somaliland police arrested and locked up on Thursday a member of parliament (MP) for Somalia on his arrival at the Berbera airport in Somaliland.

Abdullah Haji Ali who is a politician of Somaliland descent and former mayor of Berbera, the capital city of Sahil province is still an incumbent member of parliament for Somalia.

Mr. Ali said on his arrival at Berbera airport that there was no future for Somalia’s hopelessly and inefficient besieged transitional federal government (TFG) and for that reason requested clemency for his return to Somaliland- his native country.

The Somaliland government however has withdrawn his request for clemency upon arrival at Berbera airport because of his failure to completely renounce his membership to the parliament of Somalia to which he still belongs coupled with his failure to make a declaration regarding his unswerving support for the sovereignty of Somaliland as an independent state.

Somaliland (formerly known as North West Region) was part of what used to be Republic of Somalia since 1960 before it broke away in 1991 and restored its sovereignty as an independent state following Somalia’s descent into a lethal civil war, which led to the disintegration of the country into fiefdoms ruled by clan warlords before the rise of Islamists.

On 18 May 2009, the self declared republic of Somaliland marked 18 years since it proclaimed independence from Somalia. Although its sovereignty is still unrecognised by any country, the fact that it is a viable, functioning constitutional democracy distinguishes it from Somalia.

Individuals of Somaliland descent who hold high-level positions in the TFG are routinely arrested and locked up by Somaliland police if and when they set foot on Somaliland soil.


Somaliland: Police Arrest Somali Lawmaker

Berbera, 19 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Somaliland authorities arrested an MP from Somalia’s transitional federal parliament on orders from Somaliland police Commissioner, Mr Mohamed Saqadi Dubad on Saturday.

Mr Abdalla Ali Ahmed, who hails from Somaliland, was also the former mayor of Somaliland’s port city of Berbera and returned after five years in Somalia. MP Abdalla flew from the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Friday after officially resigning from the weak government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.


IN SLAND SHAME FOR THE POLITICAL PARTIES FOR TRYING TO GAIN POLITICAL SCORES FROM COLD BLOODED

http://www.togaherer.com/details.asp?id=1377&dt=articles

In Somaliland, shame for the political parties for trying to gain political scores from Cold blooded murders

For a long time, the people of this country told the international community that peace and stability can be established in a nation without recognized government. From the stand point of the samaroon tribe, such peace was relative when they choose co-existence with the Isaaqs despite inequalities in the ruling system. That means the samaroon were tolerant and they choose to accept a lot of injustices only for the sake of peace. They did not protest when all international aid agencies were asked to move from Borama to Hargeisa; when their only airport was closed from their people in Djibouti; when their boys were stoned in Hargeisa only for scoring the first goal in a inter-regional football game; when none of water digging rigs were refused to dig water wells in Borama; when....when and many more.

That tolerance has today gone beyond limits when their men were slaughtered like animals and country's political parties tried to politicise the cold blood cowardly murders. Political parties only insult to the injury when they relate the murders to land dispute. The victims had nothing to do with any dispute. They were travelling in a public road like any one else in the country. How can any reasonable politician explain such a situation without the least reference to the reality of the issue. The insance political party leaders are either inexperienced or tribally motivated. In either case, they did not understand that their primary role was to address the problem as it was to focusing on bringing justice to the affected people. How can any rational politician ignore the consequences of a problem at this scale? This could result lawlessness and chaos in the country where elections will be possible and where any government will be able to control. In that situation, all politicians will be losers because there will be no seats to campaign for. Obviously, we are learning nothing form the History. It is not long ago when an intrenationally recongnised government went down into ashes and, possibly, we are on that road again.

Mouse Elmi.


MP who says he 'quit' Somalia parliament arrested in Somaliland

BERBERA, Somalia July 18 (Garowe Online) - A lawmaker in Somalia's transitional federal parliament who says he has 'quit' was arrested by authorities after arriving in the breakaway republic of Somaliland, Radio Garowe reports.

MP Abdalla Ali Ahmed, who hails from the Somaliland regions, flew from the Kenyan capital Nairobi and arrived in the port city of Berbera, located in Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland.

He held a press conference at the Berbera airport criticizing the transitional government in Mogadishu, led by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

"I have quit my post as lawmaker," Mr. Abdalla said, with local sources saying the townspeople of Berbera welcomed his public statement.

However, Somaliland police detained the renegade lawmaker a day after he arrived and he is now under arrest at a jail in Berbera, local sources reported.

Somaliland authorities have arrested and sent back officials from Mogadishu, arguing that Somaliland is an independent republic and does not come under the authority of Mogadishu.


Somaliland: Army to Set up New Command Posts in West in an Effort to Resolve Disputes

Gabiley, 18 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Some 17 army trucks and their soldiers rolled into Elbardale farmlands on Thursday, shifted out of Sool region to help restore security following last week’s violent clashes that left five dead and three wounded after a farmland dispute sparked a fresh feud between two rivalry clans in the Gabiley region.

The latest clashes between the Hared and Mohamud Nur clans is the fourth time armed conflict has broken out in the region in the past six months. Both clans claim ownership of the land and efforts to resolve the crisis have failed in the past but now the government plans to establish a military post in the region.

Along with the 17 trucks from Sool, the government also moved army divisions from Burao to Gabiley and Awdal regions as reinforcement as well as fresh police to work alongside the military.

In a related development, Rayale also fired his commerce minister, Mr Osman Qasim Qodah and the minister of the Presidency, Mr Amin Nur Ismael – after they disagreed on the Elbardale conflict.

The government also arrested Radio Horyaal journalists Mohamed Osman Mire and Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul, and has closed Horn Cable TV (HCTV) over their reports on Elbardale on orders from attorney general. The authority accuses both private media of stirring up the rift.

Many accuse the president of fueling the unrests during pre-election period so election can be postponed again for the third time – Somaliland is poised to hold presidential elections on September 27.

Mediation efforts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels are also underway both in Awdal and Gabiley region.

Meanwhile, Somaliland elders, religion leaders, Diaspora communities, opposition parties and the government have all called for calm and both sides to break a ceasefire. Tribal disputes are common among Somalis even in Somaliland.


Somaliland's addict economy

Multimedia: Growth of khat chewing habit drains struggling economy.

By Tristan McConnell GlobalPost/Pulitzer Center - GlobalPost Published: July 17, 2009

HARGEISA, Somaliland — Somalia’s economy is dominated by trade in khat, a narcotic banned in the U.S. and much of Europe.

Eye-popping, head-buzzing khat is loved by Somali men who chew the leaves for their stimulant effect. While most of war-torn Somalia's economy is moribund, khat does a bustling trade estimated at well over $50 million annually. Doctors warn, however, that the drug is not only a drain on limited Somali resources but is also destroying lives.

Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland, the northern territory nominally independent from Somalia which maintains peace and economic activity, especially the khat trade.

Lounging on a rug on the second floor of an ostentatious glass and stone mansion overlooking Hargeisa, Mohamed Yusuf Moge, aptly known as "The Fat Mohamed," lit up another cigarette. In front of him was a pile of leafless khat twigs. His eyes were wide and red-rimmed, a symptom of the leaves that have been chewed.

“We bring in 80-tons of khat every day,” he said. “We have many vehicles and two airplanes for transporting our produce. We control the market: We are the De Beers of the khat industry!”

"We" is "571 Allah Amin," a family business started 15 years ago that has grown to become Somaliland’s biggest khat importer. Moge is 571’s country rep. Although he would not reveal how much the company makes, it is estimated that its revenue is $320,000 a day.

Downtown at the company depot, the second of the day’s trucks arrives from the highland farms of neighboring Ethiopia mid-morning. Thursday is the busiest day of the week because, as one man explained, Friday is the Muslim day of rest so everyone can sleep off their khat hangover.

As the khat truck pulled in, barrow boys and vendors crowded round the tailgate to unload the 70 kg sacks of khat wrapped in hay to keep it fresh. Inside are small bundles of shoots that are bought wholesale for $1 and sold retail for $1.50.

“Business is good!” shouted Omar Hersi Warfa, 571’s depot manager, over the clamor. “We are working hard and people are chewing!”

Khat vendor Shamis Abdullahi Nur, 50, squatting on the ground nearby, agreed.

“Business is very good because of our security and peace,” she said as she directed a sack of khat to be loaded into the back of a beat-up station wagon for the drive across town to her stall. Others pushed smaller consignments away in wheelbarrows.

“I’ve been selling khat for over 30 years and now is the best time. There was a time of war, a time when I was a refugee, but now you can see I am sitting here eating my mango,” she said with a sticky, happy smile.

Street prices are highest in the early afternoon because this is gayiil time when most men chew the khat and shoot the breeze. They can be found sitting on carpets in shady spots close to khat kiosks, with an ashtray, a flask of sweet tea and a jug of water at their feet. Women often sell khat but are not invited to chew.

But increasingly men are also chewing in the morning, the evening and throughout the night. The stoned man in a cotton wrap tottering in a daze along a crumbling potholed road with a fistful of green stems is a common sight.

Some warn the national habit does psychological damage. In the mental wing of Hargeisa’s main hospital, a staff member walked past the patients, many of whom were chained to a bed or a post or sat staring vacantly on the floor. “The majority of the men here are affected by chewing khat, most are schizophrenic,” said Faisal Ibrahim.

Dr. Yassin Arab Abdi, the hospital’s chief doctor, said: “Chewing is part of it although there are many reasons for mental illness. Before they used to chew at a certain time for a few hours now there are four sessions 24-hours a day. These people are addicts.”

Back at the khat mansion, "Fat Mohamed" Moge and his colleagues, however, extolled the virtues of the drug.

“Khat plays a great role in our society. If there’s conflict people have to sit down, chew, talk about it," Moge said. “It is not like a drug which destroys the mind. It is a stimulant. If you chew khat in the right manner it doesn’t affect you.” But, he admitted, “There are some guys who are addicted, this is because they are jobless and have nothing to do.”

Unfortunately this description applies to many Somali men. The last national government — a military dictatorship — collapsed in 1991. Since then the unrecognized state of Somaliland has declared itself independent while Somalia has descended deeper into war and chaos. Isolation on the one hand and war on the other have left the formal economy shattered with many surviving on remittances sent from relatives abroad.

Yet it is not unusual for men to spend $5 or $10 a day on khat, making the habit a huge drain on very limited resources. The government’s entire annual budget is less than $50 million, around $14 a head for each of Somaliland’s 3.5 million citizens.

Such is the love of khat that to outlaw it would be political suicide. Nevertheless a senior Somaliland politician, Musa Behe of the opposition Kulmiye party, said, “The Somali man works less because he chews khat. We won’t ban it but we need to raise awareness of the harm khat does.”

Tristan McConnell and Narayan Mahon traveled to Somaliland on a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting


U.S. Urges Release of Journalists in Somaliland

U.S. Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya, Press Release, July 17, 2009

The United States government condemns the recent arrests in Somaliland of Radio Horyaal journalists Mohamed Osman Mire and Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul, and the suspension of Horn Cable TV (HCTV).

We call for the immediate release of the journalists, and we strongly urge that Horn Cable TV be allowed to resume broadcasting without impediment during this important, pre-election period.

Somalilandpress.com


Two journalists arrested amid growing crackdown on media

Published on 17 July 2009

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the arrest of two journalists and the closure of a TV station in the northwestern breakaway territory of Somaliland and the beatings which several journalists received from police in the northeastern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

“While the international community’s attention is focused on the abduction of two French government advisers who were posing a journalists in Mogadishu, the real journalists continue to be arrested and attacked with complete impunity,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The international community should help Somali journalists, who are exposed to enormous risks.”

Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul and Sayid Osman Mire, both members of the Somaliland Journalists Associations (SOLJA), were arrested without a warrant on 13 July when police raided Horyaal Radio, a privately-owned station based in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa.

Accused by Somaliland President Dahir Riyate of stirring up a tribal dispute that led to the death of four people, they are still being held at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department in Hargeisa.

A local television station, Horn Cable TV (HCTV), has been closed on the orders of the Somaliland attorney general for broadcasting a report about the same dispute.

In Puntland, several journalists, including Aweys Sheikh Nur of Horseed Media Radio, were attacked and beaten by police while attending the trial of a number of Somali pirates in the port city of Bosaso.

The journalists were attacked after some of them took photos of the prosecutor although they complied with a request to delete the photos. The judge and other court officials did not intervene while the police beat them. When the journalists complained, one police officer said: “We do not like what you report; you journalists are against the government.”

Africa’s deadliest country for the news media, Somalia was ranked 153rd out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Kidnappings of journalists and humanitarian aid workers are now common in Somalia and six journalists have been killed since the start of the year.


Journalists arrested, beaten in Somalia's breakaway regions: RSF

NAIROBI (AFP)July 17, 2009 – 4 hours ago— Two journalists were arrested and a television station shut down in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland while several others were beaten in the self-declared state of Punltand, a media watchdog said Friday.

The two Somaliland journalists Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul and Sayid Osman Mire were arrested Monday after police raided a private radio station in the region's capital Hargeisa, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

They were accused by Somaliland president Dahir Riyale of stirring a tribal dispute that killed four people, while the region's attorney general ordered a local TV station shut for airing the same dispute.

In Puntland, police attacked and beat up several journalists covering a trial of pirates in the port city of Bossaso.

"While the international community?s attention is focused on the abduction of two French government advisers who were posing as journalists in Mogadishu, the real journalists continue to be arrested and attacked with complete impunity," the group said.

France has denied reports that the two security advisers kidnapped Tuesday in a Mogadishu hotel were posing as journalists.

Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. Media houses have been routinely shut down by the authorities and many reporters, Somali and foreign, have been kidnapped by armed groups.


Somalia: Somaliland president fires two Cabinet ministers

HARGEISA, Somalia July 16 (Garowe Online) - The president of Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland fired two members of Cabinet on Wednesday, Radio Garowe reports.

President Dahir Riyale issued a decree dated July 15 whereby he fired the Minister of Commerce and the Minister of the Presidency, Mr. Osman Hassan Kodah and Mr. Nur Amin Ismail, respectively.

Mr. Abib Hassan Filfil was appointed as Somaliland's new minister of commerce, while the current state minister for internal affairs, Mr. Hassan Ahmed Du'ale, was temporarily appointed to hold the post of minister of the presidency, according to four presidential decrees issued from Riyale's office.

Further, a new Minister of Parliament Relations, Mr. Hussein Aynan Farah, was appointed following former minister Mr. Abdi Hassan Buni' s death.

President Riyale's decree did not specify why the ministers were fired, but the Cabinet changes come weeks ahead of a highly anticipated presidential election slated for Sept. 27, 2009.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Somaliland's government of failing to hold presidential elections on time and strongly cautioned the Riyale administration against new election delays. The presidential election has been postponed two times since May 2008.


Somaliland: What Somalia Could Be

J.Peter Pham, PhD, July 16, 2009. http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.3752/pub_detail.asp

It came as no surprise when Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace released their “Failed States Index 2009” three weeks ago that, once again, Somalia topped the rankings. What I reported two weeks ago about the country’s “Transitional Federal Government” (TFG) continuing to lose what little ground it has left in the face of an onslaught from Islamist insurgents is even truer as the forces of al-Shabaab (“the youth”), the al Qaeda-linked group formally designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the U.S. Department of State last year, and its allies, including the Hisbul al-Islamiyya (“Islamic party”) group of Sheikh Hassan Dahir ‘Aweys, a figure who appears personally on both United States and United Nations antiterrorism sanctions lists, seize control of more and more neighborhoods in Mogadishu.

At the beginning of last week, Shabaab leader Ahmad Abdi Godane, a.k.a. “Abu Zubeyr,” went so far as to issue an ultimatum to government soldiers to surrender their weapons and leave the front lines within five days or face being tried before an Islamic court alongside TFG leaders after the final collapse of the interim regime. Over the weekend, peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) apparently exceeded their United Nations mandate to limit their activities to self-defense and undertook to do what the TFG forces have been wholly incapable of doing: battling insurgents in northern Mogadishu. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured in some of the heaviest street fighting to date as the AU troops first recaptured districts in the name of the TFG only to lose them again as the insurgency deployed additional forces to the capital.

Meanwhile the TFG continued to wheel about like a drunk, its capacity for self-destructive behavior apparently unabated by the mortal peril it finds itself in. On Tuesday, two French security advisers on assignment to train the interim regime’s presidential guard were kidnapped at gunpoint from their Mogadishu hotel and marched away in their boxer briefs. According to a report by Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times, the assailants were Saleebaab lineage Habar Gidir sub-clansmen of TFG interior minister Abdiqadir Ali Omar who had been absorbed into the government’s forces but were “upset about not getting paid for risking their lives in recent battles.” The two kidnapped men have subsequently been handed over to Islamist insurgents. The congenital dysfunctional nature of the TFG (see my report earlier this year on the farcical selection process for its current president), however, did not stop the United Nations, the African Union, and the subregional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) from convening in Nairobi, Kenya, this week yet another international conference aim at shoring up Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his remnant.

All of this simply underscores what I asserted in my Congressional testimony at the end of June: “If the failure so far of no fewer than fourteen internationally-sponsored attempts at establishing a national government indicates anything, it is the futility of the notion that outsiders can impose a regime on Somalia.”

A number of correspondents have since challenged me about what would happen absent foreign intervention, as if Somalis are somehow inherently incapable of self-governance. Fortunately, an example already exists of the emergence of a stable and peaceful Somali state: the Republic of Somaliland. While certainly far from perfect, Somaliland shows what is possible when a “bottom-up” or “building-block” approach is allowed to take place instead of imposing the hitherto favored “top-down” strategy for resolving conflicts, consolidating peace, and state-building within a political space. It also illustrates how a process that is viewed as legitimate and supported by the populace can also address the international community’s interests about issues ranging from humanitarian concerns to maritime piracy to transnational terrorism (see the report in last Sunday’s New York Times by Andrea Elliott about young Somali-Americans as fighters for al-Shabaab, “A Call to Jihad, Answered in America,” as well as the indictment this week by a federal grand jury of two men, Salah Osman Ahmed and Abdifatah Yusuf Isse, for recruiting them).

The British Protectorate of Somaliland gained its independence as the State of Somaliland on June 26, 1960. Less than a week later, it merged with the former Italian colony of Somalia in the south and east in a union which Somalilanders regretted almost from the beginning – the just one year after, the northerners overwhelming rejected by referendum the unification constitution – as they faced increasing marginalization within both government and civil society at the hands of their numerically superior ethnic kinsmen. Such was the oppression, especially after a 1969 military coup brought General Mohamed Siad Barre to power, that by the 1980s a full-fledged civil war was underway with the dictatorship taking ever harsher measures to suppress the Somali National Movement (SNM), the primary opposition group in Somaliland. Things had gotten so far out of hand that, in 1988, Siad Barre’s air force actually perpetrated one of the most bizarre war crimes in the annals of armed conflict: taking off from the airport in Hargeisa, the principal northern city, the aircraft bombed some 80 percent of that very same city.

Somalilanders will tell those who inquire that the only reason they were willing to make the sacrifice of entering into a union with the former Italian colony of Somalia was that it was part of a movement to bring all the Somali-speaking areas of East Africa under one polity. However, with Ethiopia and Kenya both long ruling out any secession of their Somali-populated regions and Djibouti voting overwhelming in a 1967 referendum to reject any unification with the Somali state, the grand nationalist dream essentially died. The rump union was hence held together by brute force.

After the dictator fled from Mogadishu in January 1991 with the remnants of the last effective government of the Somali Democratic Republic collapsing around him, elders representing the various clans in Somaliland met in the bombed out city of Burao and, on May 18, 1991, agreed to a resolution that annulled the northern territory’s merger with the former Italian colony (a number of international law scholars had long questioned the legal validity of the act of union) and declared that it would revert to the sovereign status it had enjoyed upon the achievement of independence from Great Britain. The chairman of the SNM, Abdirahman Ahmed Ali “Tuur,” was appointed by consensus to be interim president of Somaliland for a period of two years.

In 1993, the Somaliland clans sent representatives to Borama, a town in the territory of one of the smaller clans, the Gadabuursi, for a national guurti, or council of elders. The numerically predominant ‘Isaq were allocated 90 delegates, while the Harti were given 30 delegates, and the Gadabuursi and ‘Ise split another thirty delegates. Interestingly, while the apportionment of seats on the guurti a rough attempt to reflect the demographics of the territory, the actually decision making was by consensus over the course of the four months which the assembly met. Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, who had briefly been prime minister of independent Somaliland in 1960 as well as democratically-elected prime minister of Somalia between 1967 and the military coup in 1969, was chosen as president of Somaliland.

President Egal’s tenure saw, among other things, the drafting of a permanent constitution for Somaliland, which was approved by 97 percent of the voters in a referendum in May 2001. The constitution provides for an executive branch of government, consisting of a directly elected president and vice president and appointed ministers; a bicameral legislature consisting of an elected House of Representatives and an upper chamber of elders, the guurti; and an independent judiciary. After Egal’s death while undergoing surgery in Pretoria, South Africa, in May 2002, he was succeeded by his vice president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, who subsequently was elected in his own right in a closely fought election in April 2003 – the margin of victory for the incumbent was just 80 votes out of nearly half a million cast and, amazingly, the dispute was settled peaceably through the courts. Multiparty elections for the House of Representatives were held in September 2005 which gave the president’s party just 33 of the 82 seats, with the balance split between two other parties. As a report from the International Crisis Group noted at the time: “The elections were impressive: under the auspices of Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), 246 candidates contested 82 seats in an endeavor involving 982 polling stations; 1,500 ballot boxes (bags); 1.3 million ballot papers; 4,000 polling station staff; 6,000 party agents; 3,000 police; 700 domestic observers and 76 international observers…their peaceful, orderly and transparent conduct was no small achievement.”

Both elections were widely acknowledged by both domestic and international observers as free and fair. One might add that the achievement of having staged democratic polls for both the executive and legislative branches of government is even more impressive when one considers the failure to even set up a functioning government in central and southern Somalia and the generally questionable nature of elections elsewhere in the region – when they are even held at all. If all goes well, the progress will be consolidated when, on September 27, 2009, Somalilanders go to the polls for combined presidential and legislative elections, both of which have been delayed for a number of reasons, most having to do with technical competence and capacity, although one cannot help but note a certain lack of enthusiasm on the part of the incumbent president at the prospect of facing the electorate. Progress was made over the weekend as the three political parties in Somaliland – the United Peoples’ Democratic Party (UDUB), the Peace, Unity and Development Party (Kulmiye), and For Justice and Development (UCID) – signed an electoral code of conduct.

Meanwhile, civil society, so devastated in the rest of the Somali lands, has made tremendous strides in Somaliland, carving out a space for private civic and charitable engagement. To cite just one example, the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, founded in 2002 by Edna Adan Ismail, the former foreign minister of Somaliland (2003-2006) who donated her pension from the World Health Organization as well as other personal assets to it, provides a higher standard of care than available anywhere else in the Somali lands for maternity and infant conditions as well as diagnosis and treatment for HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases and general medical treatments. In addition, the hospital serves as a teaching hospital, training an entire generation of nurses and midwives qualified to provide reproductive healthcare throughout the country and serving as a medical research center, with a special attention paid to the health problems associated with female genital mutilation.

In an op-ed piece after a visit to Somaliland’s capital of Hargeisa two years ago, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof summarized all of this rather nicely:

Here in the north of the carcass of Somalia is the breakaway would-be nation of Somaliland, and it is a remarkable success – for a country that doesn’t exist.

The U.S. and other governments don’t recognize Somaliland, so the people here get next to zero foreign aid. And when the “country” was formed in 1991, it had been mostly obliterated in a civil war and was a collection of ruins and land mines.

Yet the clans and elders here formed their own government, held free elections and even established an international airline. Relying on free markets and a general exhaustion with violence, the people of Somaliland embraced tranquility and democracy and searched for ways to make a buck.

Walk down the streets of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, and instead of gunmen you come across the thriving jewelry and financial market: scores of vendors, most of them women, are hawking millions of dollars worth of gold, precious stones and foreign currency out in the open air. (Don’t try that at home!) Continue down the street, and you see that Hargeisa has police cars, DHL service, cable television, orthodontists, a multitude of Internet cafes and traffic jams (including the horses and camels). There are public schools and hospitals—even a public library.

This is a conservative Muslim country, yet it is generally pro-American and tolerant. In the last election, more women voted than men. Women’s groups are fighting the traditional practice of genital mutilation, administered to 97 percent of girls here.

The lesson of Somaliland is simple: the most important single determinant of a poor country’s success is not how much aid it receives but how well it is run. If a country adheres to free markets and good political and economic governance, it will generate domestic and foreign investments that dwarf any amount of aid.

Interestingly, even the African Union (AU), notoriously reluctant to do anything that might suggest that the map of African could be redrawn, has, as I reported here more than eighteen months ago, acknowledged the unique circumstances surrounding Somaliland’s quest for international recognition as well as its tremendous achievements to date despite the lack of that sought-for acceptance. The official report of an AU fact-finding mission to the republic in 2005 led by AU Deputy Chairperson Patrick Mazimhaka concluded: “The fact that the union between Somaliland and Somalia was never ratified and also malfunctioned when it went into action from 1960 to 1990, makes Somaliland’s search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. Objectively viewed, the case should not be linked to the notion of ‘opening a Pandora’s Box’. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case.”

Last year, the AU’s special representative for Somalia, Nicolas Bwakira, likewise reported positively on Somaliland to the organization:

Somaliland has a Constitution that emanated from grassroots consultations…the constitution serves as a fundamental law in Somaliland and does enjoy respect and wider acceptance in the wider political spectrum. It provides for the relevant branches of government (legislative, Judiciary and executive) and the effective separation of powers that go along with it. The House of the Elders (known as “Guurti”) is an additional arm of the system intended to safeguard and ensure the accountability and sustainability in Somaliland. Additionally, there is an Independent Electoral Commission which is responsible for the planning, preparing and conducting of Municipal, Presidential and Parliamentarian elections. This nascent democracy in Somaliland provides a sense of pride and needs to be learned by the rest of Somalia. It is a very encouraging and rewarding socio-political development prevailing in Somaliland compared to the rest of the country whereby insecurity, piracy and insurgent activities are rampant.

The Burundian diplomat, who has been involved in liberation struggles in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, astutely noted the reason for this success lay in the indigenous nature of the effort: “Somaliland has achieved peace and stability, using the traditional way of solving problems (known locally as ‘Xeer’) and through a home-grown disarmament, demobilization and re-integration process and internally driven democratization.” Although he did not say so, this local origin and buy-in is precisely what I and other observers have repeatedly argued has been missing from efforts in central and southern Somalia where, as I noted earlier this year, “even by the opera buffa standards set by the fourteen attempts at a national framework for governance since the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre fled from the presidential palace seventeen years ago, the selection of the latest pretender to the leadership of the nonexistent Somali state [TFG “president” Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed] was farcical.”

Special envoy Bwakira concluded his report with some sensible suggestions for both the international community in general and the AU in particular:

As a peace dividend, the international community should provide institutional capacity building support to Somaliland infrastructure and facilitate its access to the international and regional financial institutions and banking systems.

The African Union Commission and [the subregional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development] should explore channels of communication and dialogue with the Somaliland authorities, and establish the best way they could be integrated into the regional socio-economic and political discourses including issues such as migration, illegal smuggling of arms, the fight against piracy and displacement of populations.

Likewise, the authors of a just-released Human Rights Watch report – which was not without its criticisms of Somaliland’s authorities—noted:

Human Rights Watch takes no position on whether Somaliland should be recognized or which country or multilateral institution should take the lead on resolving the issue. But donors, the AU, and other key international actors should develop concrete and pragmatic policies that are tailored specifically to Somaliland’s complex realities instead of continuing to shoehorn their engagement with Somaliland into the same framework as their policies on south/central Somalia. Somaliland’s needs, achievements, and problems bear little resemblance to those of Somalia and Puntland. Recognition or no, Somaliland should not be saddled with donor policies that are primarily geared to the context of looming famine and endless conflict in the south.

In particular, donors and key foreign governments should move immediately to deepen their engagement with Somaliland’s government, civil society, and other institutions…Somaliland is at a crossroads and the territory’s impressive human rights and security-related gains could be jeopardized.

In his speech to the parliament of Ghana last Saturday, President Barack Obama outlined four areas as “critical to the future of Africa”: democracy, opportunity, health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. While highlighting increases in foreign assistance his administration has sought, the president noted that “the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by – it’s whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.” If these are the standards by which Africa policy is to be determined, then Somaliland surely has both moral and strategic claims on the attentions of the United States and its partners. Whatever their shortcomings, the people of Somaliland have demonstrated over the course of nearly two decades a dogged commitment to peacefully resolving their internal conflicts, rebuilding their society, and forging a democratic constitutional order. Their achievements to date are nothing short of remarkable in subregion as challenging as the Horn of Africa, especially when one considers the lack of international recognition under which they labor. It is not only prejudicial to our interests, but also antithetical to our ideals, to keep this oasis of stability hostage to the vicissitudes of the conflict which the rest of the Somali territories are embroiled rather than to hold it up as an example of what the others might aspire to – and could readily achieve if they weren’t so busy fighting over the decayed carcass of a dead state and the resources which the international community stubbornly continues to throw at it in hopes of reanimating the corpse.

In addition to serving on the boards of several international and national think tanks and journals, FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Dr. J. Peter Pham has testified before the U.S.Congress. Feedback:editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.


Donors threaten Somaliland with funding axe unless it replaces election commissioners

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe 15 July 2009)- Somaliland ‘s major financial donors said on Tuesday, they have halted financing Somaliland’s democratisation process and threatened to completely cut off election funding unless the “incompetent and corrupt” election commissioners are replaced immediately.

Sources close to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) say the donors insisted for the last two months that they would not release any additional funds until the entire or some members of the NEC are replaced. Both the president and major political parties had been informed about this, sources added.

However, the major political parties have different political views on this contentious issue. UDUB and KULMIYE are opposed to the idea of replacing the commissioners at this late stage but for different reasons.

KULMIYE officials are wary of the replacement partly because the presidential election is just around the corner and partly because any replacement at this stage might cause potential delays to the election that would almost certainly trigger another presidential term extension for president Rayale.

UDUB, the ruling party, will have much to gain from the presidential election delay and would like to see the donors to freeze the funding altogether, analysts believe.

UCID party, however, fully supports the donors’ position and would like to see the entire election commissioners replaced.

The disagreement between the three parties on this issue led the donors to threaten the complete withdrawal of funding to the presidential election unless their conditions are fully met by the government and all parties concerned.

Frustrated Somalilanders however are increasingly concerned that this will be a major stumbling block to the much-awaited presidential election planned for 27 September if the donors carried out their threat to freeze their share of the funding which constitutes 75% of the overall expenses.

Senior government officials say however, with much bravado, that the government will pay up the 75% of the presidential election funds if the donors go ahead with their threat. This is despite the fact that the government could not come up with the 25% of the voter registration expenses it was contractually required to contribute.

Although all the parties had signed the Electoral Code of Conduct last week, which was one of the donors’ major requirements, this latest issue about the replacement of the entire Electoral Commission will only lend credence to the government’s argument that Interpeace, the agency representing the donors, is the one which remains a stumbling to the presidential election in Somaliland rather than the government itself.

Dahir Rayale is in no mood to replace the seven-member NEC of whom five of them were nominated by his government and the donors are seemingly sticking to their guns.

The tragedy is that, while the presidential election is only two months away, no one in Somaliland can say with absolute certainty until now whether or not the presidential election will take place on 27 September as planned.


SOMALIA: Clashes displace hundreds of families in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 16 July 2009 (IRIN) - At least 700 families in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland have been displaced following clashes between two clans over ownership of Elberdale farmland in Gabiley region, local officials said.

Seven people were reportedly killed in the 10-12 July clashes between militiamen of Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans.

Elabe Mohamoud Hufane, the deputy mayor of Dilla in Awdal region, told IRIN between 400 and 500 families were displaced in his region alone.

"These families are now without shelter and they lost a significant number of their livestock during the clashes," Hufane said. "We know two persons were killed in the conflict and five others were injured; four are missing."

The latest clashes marked the fourth time armed conflict has broken out in the Elberdale farmland in the past six months between the Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans. The two are claiming ownership of the land and efforts to resolve the dispute have so far failed.

Khadra H. Gaydh, the deputy mayor of Gabiley, said more than 400 families in the area had been displaced and that government officials had confirmed five deaths although witnesses on the ground put the figure at 11.

A villager who requested anonymity said: "Four people were killed after they were kidnapped on 12 July and seven others were killed in the conflict."

"We cannot risk [the lives] of our staff in the area because of the instability".

Following the clashes, Halo Trust - an NGO undertaking demining in the area - suspended its operations in Ruqi, near the Elberdale farmland.

"We cannot risk [the lives] of our staff in the area because of the instability," a field official said, requesting anonymity.

The farmers among those displaced expressed concern for their livelihoods, saying they had fled during the planting season.

"We lost the first planting season in the early Gu [long rains] and now we are forced to flee during the current planting season," Omar Aden told IRIN.

The latest fighting followed a meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the Gabiley elders over the dispute.

Calling for peace, the presidency appealed to clan elders from both sides to broker a ceasefire.


Somaliland TV and The Bardaale Problem

Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The is no Somalilander, who is not angered over the loose Gov’t handling of the land problem. In th hitory of land Disputes, it had been customery for Governments to act immediately and put in place a lasting peace by ruling fairly on the problem in a way that every party had too be confronted with the truth and Administrative resources statements of Facts.

The Bardaale issue is one of the Gov’t set backs. This is not the first time such a verdict lands on one of the clans but there had been others too, on the same clan. It’s very unfortunate and highly regretable to learn, loss of Somalilanders lives in conflict, which should not have taken place at all if strict non bias on the spot solution would have been exercised by the Government at time.

l think, what Somali-land TV is doing in the public mobilization campeign of condemnations will only aggrevate the situation. like we said before, there will be no winner nor loser in an armed conflict between the two clans, who will only gain casuals weeping at both houses because they are like siamese twins interlocked, sharing blood!! We Somalilanders are all losers if we unjustifiably in law terms, meddle in issues that directly affect our National security Barriers. Though it had been one of our dark moments, Tribal Conflicts used to happen but non of those had made any of those tribes to Install a foreign flag at home, due to anger as has happened at Las-Anod and Borama!!

We have a Constitution rendered inactive and a law enforcement forces sadly unsanctioned rank to file. It is another leadership failure to serve the Country. With the World Human Rights Organization report released, this Government lead by Prsident Riyale, should see itself in that report, which is not published by a somlilander but the United Nations Human Rights Organization. I do advice Somaliland TV to correct itself and realize that they are for Somali-land and to teach the public constructively, not exaggerating mishaps and fishing in dirty waters.

The TV reports should be analytic, referential and very concrete in truth. Adopt to the Democratic World media principles and keep in mind that the TV is one of the three ways, the Ministry of Information teachs the Public therefor, you are obligated to be a good teaching unit. Let’s all participate in the cessation of that conflict and save any further deaths. Hargeisa TV should stop this filthy Bardaale politicization immediately as it will add fuel into the existing Fume.

Dr. Ali A. Mohamed


All African Borders Rose from Colonial Borders

Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The Somali Sections of VOA and BBC Radios sometimes hold political debates on Somaliland cause and its quest for diplomatic recognition. Some participants in the debates raise insincere arguments about the legitimacy of Somaliland national borders calling it “Colonial Borders.” These individuals are either ignorant of the historical origin of current borders of African States or purposefully mislead the listeners. The United Nations, African Union, and African States did not draw or make the current borders of African States. All the borders of African independent states had been drawn by the colonial powers of Europe in the 19th century, before or after The Partition of Africa in 1884, and the independence and recognition of each African State today depend upon its own colonial demarcations or borders. Likewise, all the borders of Asian and South American States also emerged from colonial boundaries drawn by Britain, France and Spain.

It is hypocritical that these anti-Somaliland debaters recognize the legitimacy of the border between Somaliland and Djibouti but challenge the legitimacy of the border running between Somalia and Somaliland knowing that both borders were drawn by colonial powers. The borders of Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti have the same status and legitimacy because they were all drawn by European Colonizers. Most of such debaters are easily overwhelmed by unattainable ambitions for tribal state that does not exist in Africa or elsewhere and their denial of the legitimacy of Somaliland borders is completely in contrary to the historical realities of African borders. Anyone who opposes the legitimacy of Somaliland borders, its independence and its diplomatic recognition is challenging the borders and sovereignty of all African independent states (54 states) whose borders rose from their colonial borders or demarcations.

Some people confuse Somaliland with Puntland for either ignorance or for futile political reasons. Puntland is an integral part of Somalia because it is located within Somalia`s colonial borders (Italian-drawn borders) with which Somalia achieved independence on July 1st, 1960 and shares people and history with Somalia. Unlike Somaliland Republic, which has the rightful claim of independence and recognition for having its own, unique colonial borders with which it achieved independence and diplomatic recognition on June 26, 1960, Puntland can not be recognized as independent state because it is part of Somalia and because it does not have its own and unique colonial borders that promote independence and recognition in Africa, but it can be federal region within Somalia. If tribal boundaries or tribal states were recognized in Africa, the whole continent would collapse and be plunged into endless, devastating clan wars. That is why the Organization of African Unity solemnly declared in 1964 that all member states pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence. Here the borders existing on their achievement of national independence are the colonial borders on which Somaliland achieved independence on June 26, 1960. Another point to make, Somaliland Republic can not let Puntland Administration integrate with it because that would violate Somalia`s sovereignty and borders.

Somaliland was the first of the five-Somali territories to achieve independence from the British Empire on June 26, 1960 based on its existing borders and, before the merger with Somalia on July 1st, 1960, the first Somali country to be recognized by the UN and 35 member nations immediately after independence like the rest of African States. Independent Somaliland was also the first to pioneer the unification between Somaliland and Somalia in quest for Greater Somalia in the Horn of Africa. The union was doomed after Somalia hijacked the governments for the thirty years of its existence (1960-1990) and then committed atrocities against Somaliland people when they rebelled against injustices perpetrated by Somalia. Injustices and atrocities were the major causes that forced Somaliland people to withdraw from the union with Somalia in 1991. The failure of the union does not alter or change the status of Somaliland for claiming legitimate borders, independence and diplomatic recognition.

The Somaliland Congress held in Burao on May 18, 1991 unanimously proclaimed the withdrawal of the Somaliland from the union with Somalia and reclaimed its independence of June 26, 1960 renaming itself: Somaliland Republic. The referendum held in Somaliland on May 31st, 2001 reaffirmed Somaliland sovereignty from Somalia. Somaliland is not a secessionist or a breakaway region from Somalia as anti-Somaliland groups would like to portray it. It just withdrew from the union it joined as an independent state on July 1st, 1960 after it failed in the hands of Somalia. Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia have the same status and legitimacy for independence and diplomatic recognition.

Somaliland and Somalia are not the first two countries in this world whose union ceased to exist. The Soviet Union of 15 Socialist Republics and created by the Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin in 1917 broke up after social upheavals with deep political discontent and came to an end peacefully in 1989 with new countries emerging from it such as Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia etc. They are all recognized by the UN and international community on the basis of their original borders existing before the union. The federation of former Yugoslavia that had 8 countries broke up after bloody civil wars (1991-1995) and new countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, Kosovo etc emerged from its ashes. All are recognized diplomatically too for their original borders existing before the federation. This shows that the unity among countries in a union is not sacred if they disagree but the unity within a country like Somaliland, Djibouti, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda etc is sacred because each country is bound together by its own national borders inherited from colonial powers.

Some Somalis believe that Somaliland should not withdraw from the union with Somalia claiming that all Somalis share language, religion, color, and culture. If this claim were true, the Arab World (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Sudan) which has 17 separate independent countries with the same language, religion, color, and culture would have one union today. They do not have any federal union for disagreeing to share one. Over 14 South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador etc) also share religion (Catholic Church), language (Spanish), culture, and color but they are not required to share union. Sharing language, religion, color, and culture is not convincing factors to share or remain in a union. Justice and fair power-sharing are the most important factors for a union to survive and that is what Somalia failed to understand in the years of the union. Islamic religion commends unity for enhancing strength and power but does not support one that brings death and destruction upon its partners like Somalia did to Somaliland in the decade of 1980-1990, particularly in the years 1988, 1989 and 1990. “Greater Somalia” is like “Greater Arab World” or “Greater South America” which no one knows when such dreams will come true. Some other Somalis believe that only Somaliland and Somalia constitute “Greater Somalia” excluding Djibouti and the occupied territories for opportunistic reasons. Somaliland will not be an easy target again as in the years of the old union.

The occupied Somali territories are of different case. For being a devout Christian Kingdom, Ethiopia survived the European colonization and with the European approval and military support, it annexed the far Western Somalia in 1889 that includes Diridhaba, Harar, Hawas etc. The near region of Western Somalia, which is Hawd and Reserved Area, was colonized with Somaliland and then amalgamated to Ethiopia in 1954 by the Britain. The Somali Northeastern Region (N.F.D) was colonized by Britain too then amalgamated to Kenya in 1963 by Britain. Ethiopia and Kenyan governments are black colonizers in the Horn of Africa today. The peoples of these two regions have the right to struggle for their self-determination.

The place is Africa where tribalism and localism are more important than nationalism and patriotism and where democracy, fair elections, and rule of law are not respected. Chronic tribalism, brutal dictatorships and crippling corruptions are common and normal practice of the day. Any federal government can be easily overthrown at any time by military coups, just like General Siad Barre did in 1969, with the immediate dissolution of elected parliament and constitution. No one can guarantee that this will not happen again in restive Africa. Neither Somaliland people nor the people of Somalia can afford to have another risky union that leads them to another military brutal dictatorship or to a government led by a despot turned-elected president that plunges both peoples into other violent, atrocious civil wars. After the departure of colonial powers from Africa (Between 1950-1970), it fell to brutal African dictators and leaders who killed all hopes and aspirations of African masses that liberated it from Europe, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Because of the past painful experiences, peoples of Somaliland and Somalia need to have separate, safe, prosperous sisterly states with mutual relations like the Arab countries. Both nations must reject blind patriotism for “Greater Somalia” which is not practical today.

Somaliland Republic will only discuss future relations with a government of Somalia (Former Italian Territory) which is democratically elected and which represents and controls the entire people and territory of Somalia. Somaliland will not meet with a government or parliament that includes individuals claiming to represent Somaliland. Any meeting or discussions with Somalia without fulfilling these two conditions would violate the basics of Somaliland`s sovereignty.

Somaliland, as any African state, has the right to be diplomatically recognized by the United Nations and international community for its current borders that rose from colonial borders. If the African countries do not recognize Somaliland Republic for its own colonial borders as soon as possible, they should know that they put their statehood and sovereignty based on their colonial borders in question. For faster diplomatic recognition, Somaliland needs good governance and fair elections held on time. Somaliland people do not bow to external threats or give up their sovereignty for outside pressure.

Ibrahim Hassan Gagale, Email: ibrahim_hg@yahoo.com, July 14, 2009


Angry mob goes on the rampage, clashes with the police in Borama city

Borama, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-13 July 2009) An angry mob went on the rampage in Borama today pelting stones and ransacking businesses following the death of a young man during clashes with the police in the city centre.

The angry mob was protesting after hearing the news that one person was killed and five others were wounded in fresh fighting that erupted between their clan who hail from Borama and another clan who hail from Gabiley over a disputed territory in the district of El- Bardaleh - the border that divides between the two rival clans.

The protesters who were mainly comprising young men and women got angry after a protester died following clashes with the police who used live bullets to disperse the crowd. The protesters set up barricades and set rubbish and tyres ablaze during the demonstration and caused damage to local businesses.

The governor of Borama, Mohamoud Sheiklh Abdillahi Egeh, confirmed that the police did use live bullets in which one person lost his life during the clashes between the protesters and police. Egeh further confirmed that the body of the man who was killed in the fighting in El-Bardaleh and four other wounded men were brought to Borama General Hospital.

Passions were running high in Borama after the bodies of four other men killed in El-Bardaleh fighting were also brought to the city for burial this afternoon.

The fighting in El-Bardaleh erupted after armed men from Gabiley abducted ten men and their vehicles from Borama and killed four of them. The remaining six were released without their vehicles and sent back to Borama.

The governor of Gabiley, Mohamed Ahmed Habib, confirmed that one man who was wounded in the EL-Bardaleh fighting was brought to Gabiley General Hospital.

Earlier, a delegation of elders from Gabiley met with president Rayale on Friday to convey him that the situation in El-Bardaleh was very serious and remained on a knife’s edge. The president did not only fail to swiftly act on the advice of these elderly men but had also failed previously to act upon the recommendations made by the mediation subcommittee from the Upper House of Somaliland’s parliament who undertook an investigation into the dispute.

It is not known why the president waited so long to take an action on this explosive situation however there are some local media reports that president Rayale who himself hails from Borama did not find the subcommittee’s findings favourable to his clan.

There was a long-standing dispute between the two clans over the semi-desert territory in El-Bardaleh and its vicinity. The government deployed a large contingent of police and military in the area. There are growing calls from right across the political spectrum for the two brotherly clans to lay down arms.


Two Reporters Arrested in Police Swoop on Radio Horyaal Office in Hargeisa

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe -13 July 2009)- Police and plainclothesmen of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) swooped on the office of Radio Horyaal today and whisked away two of its reporters who were engaged in their day-to-day routine work.

The two Horyaal radio reporters who were named as Mohammed Osman Mire (known as Sayid) and Ahmed Suleiman (Known as Dhuhul) got hauled off to the CID detention centre.

Although there was no immediate explanation as to what these men were arrested for or who ordered their arrest nonetheless it is widely believed that this was prompted by a decision reached by president Rayale and his notorious security committee, which was calling for the rounding up of radio, TV and print media journalists who are suspected to have fanned the flames of the violence that erupted between two clans in the district of El-Bardaleh.

At least five people had been killed and more than six people were wounded in El-Bardaleh fighting which erupted on Friday.

President Rayale hails from the clan who lost five men in this fighting.

The president believes that the local media have played a role in the violence. However, president Rayale who received a delegation of elders from the other clan on Friday, warning him of the precariousness of the situation did not act swiftly upon their advice. The president also failed previously to act upon the recommendations made by the mediation subcommittee from the Upper House of Somaliland’s parliament who undertook an investigation into the dispute

Arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists by security forces without trial have become routine under Rayale’s government.


Somaliland: Fragile Democracy Under Threat

Hargeisa, 13 July 2009 (Human rights watch) – The Somaliland government’s disregard for the law and democratic processes threatens the territory’s nascent democracy, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The administration of President Dahir Riyale Kahin has committed human rights violations and generated a dangerous electoral crisis.

The 56-page report, “‘Hostages to Peace’: Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland,” says that Somaliland’s government has helped create a measure of stability and democratic governance even as Somalia has remained mired in armed conflict. But Somaliland’s gains are fragile and currently under threat. The administration of President Riyale has regularly flouted Somaliland’s laws and has twice delayed elections that were originally scheduled for April 2008, through processes of questionable legality. A further delay of elections, now slated for September 2009, could prove disastrous for democratic rule in Somaliland.

“Somaliland has spent 18 years trying to build stability and democracy, but all its gains are at risk if the government continues to undermine the rule of law,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The electoral crisis has laid bare the need to create functioning government institutions that will respect human rights.”

The Human Rights Watch report is based primarily on a two week visit to Somaliland in March 2009 in which researchers interviewed government officials, opposition leaders, civil society activists, local analysts, and victims of human rights abuses.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 after the demise of Somalia’s last functioning government. No country has recognized Somaliland’s claim of statehood. Human Rights Watch takes no position on whether Somaliland should be internationally recognized as an independent country. But international actors should engage more deeply with Somaliland, press Somaliland’s government to respect human rights and the territory’s emerging democratic norms, and provide assistance tailored to bolster key government institutions, the media, and civil society.

In recent years the Riyale administration has regularly treated the opposition-controlled legislature as an irritant, refusing to respect its role in the legislative process or in overseeing opaque government expenditures. Little has been done to build the capacity of the nominally independent judiciary; the lower courts are often incapable of applying the law while the Supreme Court has acted as though it is entirely beholden to the president.

Government actions in violation of domestic and international law have directly infringed upon the rights of Somalilanders, Human Rights Watch said. The Riyale administration has circumvented the courts and trampled on the rights of criminal defendants by relying on “security committees” that are entirely under the control of the executive and that have no legal basis under Somaliland law. The security committees sentence and imprison Somalilanders, including people accused of common crimes and juveniles, without any pretense of due process. They regularly sentence defendants en masse on the basis of little or no evidence after truncated hearings in which the accused are given no right to speak. When Human Rights Watch visited Mandhera prison outside of Hargeisa in March, over half of the prisoners there had been sentenced by the security committees, not the courts.

The government has also engaged in other repressive practices that are common in the region, but relatively rare in Somaliland. A former driver for the president’s family was imprisoned after publicly accusing the first family of corruption, and only released after photos surfaced of the man lying shackled to a hospital bed, gravely ill. The leaders of a dissident political association called Qaran, which challenged the existing three parties’ legal monopoly of electoral politics, were sentenced to prison terms and banned from political activity, though they were released before serving their full terms. And Somaliland’s leading independent human rights group was dismantled during a leadership struggle in which government officials blatantly intervened.

But patterns of low-level harassment targeting journalists, opposition activists, and others are the most common. On numerous occasions government officials have detained, usually for brief periods, individuals who have publicly criticized the government or provided press coverage deemed to be unfavorable.

Somaliland’s precarious situation in the region has deterred Somalilanders from protesting loudly when their rights are abused for fear of damaging their territory’s hard-won stability and its quest for international recognition. Many people told Human Rights Watch that they are effectively “hostages to peace” – unable to confront Somaliland’s deepest problems effectively for fear of upsetting the fragile balance that has kept the territory from going the way of Somalia and other countries in the region.

The repeated delay of Somaliland’s presidential election threatens the foundations of its emerging democratic system. President Riyale has twice been granted lengthy extensions of his term by Somaliland’s unelected House of Elders. The election is currently scheduled for September 29, but there is considerable uncertainty whether it will take place and under what circumstances.

“Somaliland is at a dangerous crossroads,” Gagnon said. “Eighteen years of progress towards democratic governance and general respect for human rights will either be consolidated or endangered, depending on President Riyale’s next moves.”


Delayed Somaliland polls threaten stability: HRW

Jul 13, 2009, By Jack Kimball

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A delay in Somaliland's presidential poll threatens the breakaway enclave's stability and democratic credentials, and the government continues to ignore its own laws, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.

Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace compared with other parts of Somalia since the Horn of Africa nation plunged into anarchy in 1991. It has held elections before, but officials say new polls have been put off since 2007 due to technical issues.

"Somaliland has spent 18 years trying to build stability and democracy, but all its gains are at risk if the government continues to undermine the rule of law," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director for the U.S.-based group.

"The electoral crisis has laid bare the need to create functioning government institutions that will respect human rights," she said in a statement.

Somaliland's government said the report was an unfair slur.

Mohamed-Aar Abdillahi Mohamed, an ambassador at large for the foreign ministry, told Reuters by telephone that a non-governmental organisation run by an American man had received $10 million in donor funds to help organise the election but failed to provide a proper electoral register.

"They came up with sub-standard software," he said.

That was why the original election was put off, and then, by a decision of the upper house of parliament, a new date was fixed for later this year, he said. "The rule of law has been followed. They are trying to find a scapegoat."

The polls are seen as a test for the former British protectorate, which has been clamouring for international recognition since declaring independence after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

The enclave in northwest Somalia is governed by an opposition-led house of representatives elected directly by the people and the upper house, or Guurti, consisting of traditional elders representing different clans and sub-clans.

The rights group said that President Dahir Riyale Kahin has used the Guurti to extend his rule beyond its limit and that claims the poll was delayed for issues like inadequate voter registration and planning time were "disingenuous".

"A further delay of elections, now slated for September 2009, could prove disastrous for democratic rule in Somaliland," the group said in a 56-page report entitled "Hostages to Peace".

NO INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION

Ambassador-at-large Mohamed said Somaliland had one of the best democratic performances in Africa. "Somaliland has a better record than any other country in the Horn of Africa," he said.

But HRW said that Riyale's administration was flagrantly acting outside laws established by the constitution and restricting civil society and the media.

"The most important caveat to everything Somaliland has achieved -- and the one thing that threatens those gains in the short term -- is the presidency's consistent and brazen refusal to abide by the rule of law," the group said.

"Perhaps the most glaring example of the government's extralegal practises is its use of security committees to usurp the role of the courts."

The committees, comprising of government officials and security officers, flout due process and routinely sentence suspects en masse, it said.

Riyale, who was in Siad Barre's security apparatus, won the presidency in 2003 in the first multi-party elections.

Somaliland was briefly independent in the 1960s, but then chose to join the rest of Somalia. Its capital, Hargeisa, was devastated in the 1980s when the then dictator battled an insurgent group there.

Since 1991, the region -- about the size of England and Wales -- has failed to gain recognition, which some analysts say is due to fears that rewriting colonial borders may open a Pandora's Box of other secession claims.


Human Rights Watch says Somaliland Democracy Teetering

By Alan Boswell, Nairobi, 13 July 2009

The autonomous region of Somaliland is in danger of losing its democratic and human rights gains if its leadership does not soon mend its ways, according to a human rights group. The group accuses the international community of harmful neglect and calls for new international engagement before critical elections are delayed again.

A report released by Human Rights Watch cautions that Somaliland is at a crucial juncture after an unlikely recent history of democratic progress and relative stability in the Horn of Africa.

Besides accusing the Somaliland government of stifling public dissent and of bypassing the country's legal system, the group's greatest concern is the likely possibility of further delays in the scheduled presidential election.

The election is currently set for September. But the election has already been pushed back 18 months, and Human Rights Watch researchers accuse Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin of purposefully dragging his feet in organizing the poll.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Chris Albin-Lackey says Somaliland's unique success story within a region where human rights violations are the norm should give additional impetus to the fight to save the territory's threatened democracy.

"In a way it is precisely the things that Somaliland has done well that makes these issues so important, because those gains - so fragile and so rare in this part of the world - are now very much under threat, and could begin to unravel if the government does not change course," he said.

The northwest Somali region declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the central government in Mogadishu was toppled.

The region has since operated autonomously, but has yet to be recognized as an independent state by any outside nation - leaving the territory in legal limbo for nearly two decades.

According to Albin-Lackey, the sensitivity of the recognition issue in Somaliland provides the international community with substantial leverage to pressure the government. He says the West's continued refusal to treat Somaliland at all separately from the war-torn areas of central and southern Somalia represents a missed opportunity.

"What is really needed is a new policy framework on the part of international donors that looks at the realities here on the ground in Somaliland and engages with those in-and-of-themselves and a much greater willingness to invest time and resources to following what is going on here and finding effective ways both to provide assistance and to pressure the government to do the right thing," he said.

Somaliland has cooperated with the United States and other Western nations in combating terrorism and piracy as part of its quest to receive international recognition.

The report suggests the raging Somali conflicts elsewhere have had a chilling effect on the territory's democratic processes. According to the report, the Somaliland people are wary of too strongly standing up for their rights out of fear of upsetting the territory's fragile peace.

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-13-voa15.cfm


Somaliland democracy said threatened

HARGEISA, Somalia, July 13 (UPI) -- The nascent democracy in the East African territory of Somaliland is under threat by its government's disregard for the law, Human Rights Watch says.

The international group, in a report released Monday in Hargeisa, alleges that the administration of President Dahir Riyale Kahin has committed human rights violations and has generated a dangerous electoral crisis.

"Somaliland has spent 18 years trying to build stability and democracy, but all its gains are at risk if the government continues to undermine the rule of law," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The electoral crisis has laid bare the need to create functioning government institutions that will respect human rights."

HRW noted that Riyale has twice delayed elections that were originally scheduled for April 2008 citing processes of "questionable legality," and that a further delay of elections, now slated for September, could "prove disastrous for democratic rule" in Somaliland.


Somaliland Parties Sign the “Electoral Code of Conduct”

Hargeisa, 11 July 2009 (somalilandpress) – The three Somaliland parties signed the new electoral code of conduct prepared by the Electoral Comission. The process which took longer than expected and in which the opposition accused the governmetn of delaying the process has finally been signed today.

In an event at Maansoor hotel, representatives from the three political parties signed the agreement which was the main challenge to the expected presidential elections in the country. The signing of this document will pave the way for the elections in September this year.

The second step will be the electoral committee to announce the final list of the registered voters for the elections within the coming two weeks. Although the process is not easy but it is believed that would be the last constrain to the long awaited elections.

Somaliland managed to conduct at least four elections in the past eight years without the support of the International Community.


Somalia: Somaliland election boss 'almost resigns' in fallout with president

HARGEISA, Somalia July 10 (Garowe Online) - The chairman of an election commission in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland decided to resign after falling out with President Dahir Riyale, Radio Garowe reports Friday.

Mr. Jama Sweden, Somaliland's election commission chairman, was reportedly angered when President Riyale and the ruling UDUB party refused to sign an election agreement with the opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID.

Independent sources said Mr. Sweden decided to resign after President Riyale supported the ruling UDUB party's refusal to sign the election agreement. It was not immediately clear why UDUB officials refused to sign the agreement.

But Somaliland Vice President Ahmed Yusuf Yasin spoke privately with Mr. Sweden, with sources saying the election boss withheld his resignation.

This development comes a day after UCID party's representative in the Somaliland election commission was voted out by lawmakers.

Somaliland is poised to hold presidential elections on September 27, 2009. President Riyale postponed the presidential election in May 2008 and April 2009, receiving one-year and six-month term extensions, respectively.


Somaliland: Police Beat, Briefly Detain Journalists without a cause.

Hargeisa, 9 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Somalilandpress reporter, Mr. Abdiqani Baynah along with another journalist from Qarannews Hasan Keefkeef have been beaten and briefly detained by the police in Hargeisa this evening. The two journalists were detained while preparing a program about the street children in Somaliland’s capital city Hargeisa.

The police assaulted the two reports while they were interviewing the homeless children next to the Hargeisa’s police headquarter. Police officers confiscated the reporter’s equipments and start beating them with the back of gun butts.

“They took us to the police station, we showed them our press cards but they did not care. They checked all the photos in the cameras and listened to the audio recorder” Said Abdiqani. “I feel pain all over my body because of the beating, I still don’t know why the police officers assaulted us” he concluded.

The two journalists were released after they spent two hours in the police custody without any charges against them. This is not the first time the police assulted reporter Mr. Abdiqani. Early this year he was also beaten by the police in Maansoor hotel when he was trying to cover the general assembly of the ruling party which was taking place in the hotel.

Record of Assaults on the press freedom.

1. 13th of March, Nur Ahmed Gagab also from Somaliland Space Channel was beaten up by Presidential guards — he was attacked, kicked and beaten with gun butts, and knocked to the ground and left unconsciously. He was treated in a hospital.

2. On 28th of March, Mr Ahmed Saleyban Dhuhul from Horyal radio station – was beaten up and arrested out side the parliament.

3. 15th of May, Mr Hadis Mohamed Hadis was arrested in Crown Hotel in Hargeisa and then released after few hours. The government said he was taking a photo of governmental offices and run away when the guards wanted to talk to him.

4. 18th of May, Mustafa Mohamed Abdi, a journalist with HadhwanaagNews, also based in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa was taken into custody without charges — released after few hours.

5. 18th of May, Muna Asa’yr Jama was abused by Presidential spokes man.

6. 8th of July, Abdiqani Baynax and Qarannews reporter assulted by police and detained for two hours without charges.


Somalia MPs 'visiting' Somaliland capital

HARGEISA, Somalia July 8 (Garowe Online) - Lawmakers in Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) are currently in the capital of the country's northern breakaway republic of Somaliland despite threats by Somaliland authorities, inside sources tell Garowe Online.

Three TFG lawmakers flew from the Somali capital Mogadishu weeks ago and spent some time in Nairobi, Kenya, before boarding a plane to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

Two lawmakers were identified as MP Abdalla Haji Ali and MP Ahmed Dahir Dakir, while the third unnamed MP was described as a new lawmaker from the Somali Diaspora. The TFG Parliament was expanded in Jan. 2009 to accommodate Islamists, TFG dissident lawmakers and civil society representatives, including Diaspora activists.

"The [TFG] lawmakers are in Hargeisa and they have reunited with their families after a long time," said a Somali lawmaker in Mogadishu, who spoke with Garowe Online on the condition of anonymity.

Somaliland officials have previously vowed to arrest and send back any member of the TFG who sets foot in Hargeisa and other towns in Somaliland. In Feb. 2009, Somaliland police arrested TFG lawmaker Mohamed Mohamud "Indhobur" for 11 days before putting him on a plane back to Mogadishu.


Chairman of Electoral Commission Says Somaliland Election Rests in the Hands of Foreign Countries

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe-08 July 2009 )- The Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Jama Mohamed Omar (famously known as Jama-Sweden) has expressed serious concern over what he described as the unfortunate state of affairs over the “foreign hands” managing Somaliland’s upcoming election.

Jama-Sweden made the remarks at a hearing held before members of the Upper House of Somaliland’s Parliament, known as Guurti, during a question and answer session after testimony. During this period, much of the questioning focused on whether the presidential election scheduled for 27 September will take place and whether a complete voter registration list will be produced in good time as accurate and accepted voter registry is pivotal to a credible electoral process.

The chairman of the Upper House, Saleban Mohamoud Aden, asked the commissioners ‘whether there are any obstacles that might pose potential problems to the election schedule’.

Jama-Sweden reassured members of the House that the presidential election will go ahead and will be held as scheduled. He mentioned that there were some technical and administrative hitches but these had now been resolved and the three parties had finalised and signed the Code of Conduct.

Jama-Sweden said: “Somaliland has attained this level of achievement without relying much on foreign assistance but the greatest tragedy is when the management of your election is placed in the hands of your donors and you have no power over it.

“However, I do strongly believe that from now onwards Somaliland will not place the management of its elections in foreign hands and that the Somaliland people will rely on themselves and their meagre resources rather than waiting for assistance from donors,” he added.

The vice-chairman of the NEC, Ali Hassan Abdalla, also took a similar line. He said the commission would not wait for the voter registration list if the donor countries and Interpeace (the agency responsible for processing voter registration list) fail to produce the list by 27 July deadline.

The chairman and his deputy both pointed out that the final decision on the voter registration list rests with the donor countries and Interpeace agency.

It was not immediately clear why Jama-Sweden lashed out at the donor countries, when there is a simmering feud within his agency that paralysed the work of the commission.

Jama-Sweden was accused to have deliberately “engineered” to expel two commissioners from the agency, which poisoned the atmosphere of teamwork between members of the commission. President Rayale rejected his request to expel one of the commissioners, Mohamed Yusuf, on medical grounds, which was found to be misleading. However, Rayale approved the expulsion of the other commissioner and the parliament subsequently approved it.

Asked whether the presidential election will take place if the voter registration list is not ready by17 July deadline, Jama-Sweden said the election would go ahead without the voters’ list. However, he added if the donors failed to pay the election expenses, then the responsibility would be entirely on the government.

The commissioners failed to illuminate further several important points and declined to answer many questions including where does Interpeace fit the Electoral Law of the country? Is it true that the commission relinquished its powers to Interpeace agency and donor countries? How can the commissioners be impartial when they are so openly divided along party lines?


Somaliland Vice-President Expresses Outrage at Hargeisa Airport Incident

Hargeisa, Somaliland (Somaliland Globe 08 July 2009)- Somaliland Vice-President, Ahmed Yusuf Yassin, expressed outrage and disgust on Friday about the Hargeisa Airport incident in which KULMIYE senior party officials and supporters were denied entry into Hargeisa Airport to welcome their leader, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, who returned from a trip to several western European countries.

Speaking to the press, the Vice-President said when he heard about the incident he immediately contacted the Police Commander, Mohamed Dubad Sakadi, and urged other government officials to respect the opposition party officials and leaders of the country in general and, in particular, the presidential candidates.

“When I heard about the incident I contacted the Police Commander immediately. Silanyo is a presidential candidate [and a leader of a main party] and it is duty bound upon the government to accord courtesy and consideration to his officials,” said the Vice-President

“I was really outraged when I was informed about this and I ordered the police commander to immediately allow the party officials entry into the airport. I will find out more about this,” he added.

The incident was seen by some as a provocative act on the part of the government calculated to incite “mob fury” but the hundreds of KULMIYE supporters thronged outside the airport had conducted themselves with due care and good.

Silanyo walked out of the airport without argument and met with his party officials and supporters into the open.

The incident was swiftly condemned by UCID party officials and National Electoral Commission.

The president’s office did not issue a statement about the incident until now.


Yemen Detains Five Somalilanders In A Tense Standoff

Zeila, Jul 7 2009 (Somalilandress) — Five Somaliland nationals have reportedly been detained by Yemeni forces on Monday in a serious standoff between Yemen and the Republic of Somaliland.

A source in Somaliland’s capital said that Yemeni forces took the five men into custody in the wake of strained relationship between the two states. The arrests come after Somaliland coastguards seized six Yemeni nationals along with two fishing boats; the Six Yemeni men were detained in the Somaliland coastal town of Zeila on 4th of July.

The Yemenis are accused of smuggling Ethiopians searching for work in the Gulf States from Somaliland to Yemen. The smugglers often dump their passengers far from shore and force them to swim the rest of the way to avoid coast patrols. The Gulf of Aden between Yemen and the Horn of Africa is notorious for smuggling and piracy but Somaliland has been safe until now. In recent weeks, pirates and smugglers are shifting their operations to new areas where there are less patrols by NATO and American warships.

It is believed that one of the five men taken into custody by Yemeni forces is the son of Somaliland’s Commander of Coastguard in Zeila; “he went to Aden to export livestock” the source stated. Yemen is demanding that Somaliland releases it’s citizens in exchange for the five Somaliland natives.

There was no official statement from either Yemen or Somaliland officials.


SOMALIA: Harvest concerns in parts of Somaliland

Officials in Somaliland are worried about a bad harvest and potential livelihood crisis for poor agro-pastoralists - file photo

HARGEISA, 7 July 2009 (IRIN) - Authorities in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland are worried about a bad harvest and potential livelihood crisis for poor agro-pastoralists.

Abdikader Jibril Tukale, director-general of Somaliland’s Ministry of Agriculture, told IRIN: "We are very worried about low crop production, which can cause livelihood crises for poor agro-pastoralists in the main farmlands of Hargeisa, Togdher, Gabiley, Awdal, Salal and Sahil, caused by the failure of Gu' [spring] rains and the desert locust outbreak."

Tukale said at least 100T of seeds were distributed to agro-pastoralists in the western and mid-western regions of Somaliland, particularly Awdal, Salal, Gabiley, and Hargeisa. "We provided seeds to at least 5,000 households in these regions, giving 20kg per household, selecting the poorest people to support them to [restore] their livelihoods," he added.

However, most farmers failed to cultivate their land due to insufficient rainfall.

Omar Aw Aden Riirash, a farmer in Satile region, said: "I cultivated my 10ha farms in Satile and Idhanka Jufada twice this year but seeds germinated in only two qodis [44 sqm] in Satile; all others were lost seeds and I need to plant afresh during the next rainy season.

"I am now an old man; when I was young, I witnessed my father cultivating the same quantity of land and producing about 100 sacks of crops per harvest, but in recent years, the situation has changed, our highest crop production is only 30 sacks during the good years; we just harvest enough for our subsistence during other years."

He said the causes of the lower output included poor rainfall, soil degradation and farmers' financial inability to cultivate more land.

Other farmers attribute the poor crop production to the quality of seeds.

"We seeded our farms using the imported sorghum and maize seeds; in the first two to three years, we harvested much more than before; unfortunately, later, the production decreased," Hassan Haji Mohamed, a farmer who lives near Abarso, 21km northwest of Hargeisa, said.

However, the ministry maintains it distributed good quality seeds.

"We do not distribute imported seeds; we buy locally and supply poor farmers," Tukale said. “We now expect to distribute new seeds and even help farmers to plough their farms during the next rainy season; this will be done with the support of international organizations that are working with us to help farmers.”

However, several farmers complained of seed shortages.

"In this area, this is the first time we are receiving these seeds, as far as I know; we have heard that some people who had received these seeds had better harvests than in previous years," Omar Aw Aden, a farmer in Satile, said.

Riirash said: "We planted the seeds more than two times but produced nothing, now we are encountering a lack of seeds.”


Somalia: Somaliland minister downplays U.S. Congressman's comments

HARGEISA, Somalia July 6 (Garowe Online) - The foreign affairs minister in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland has downplayed critical comments attributed to U.S. Congressman Donald Payne, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Du'ale, Somaliland's foreign minister, answered lawmakers' questions Monday in Hargeisa, the regional capital.

Somaliland lawmakers grilled Mr. Du'ale as to why the Somaliland administration refused to participate at a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Somalia.

Invitees to Washington included representatives from the transitional government in Mogadishu, Puntland officials from Garowe and Somaliland officials from Hargeisa.

Congressman Payne, who chaired the hearing attended by Puntland President Abdirahman Farole on June 25, publicly criticized Somaliland for demanding a "separate panel" to promote the region's breakaway agenda.

"If Somalilanders cannot sit with fellow Somalis to explore ways to bring peace to Somalia at this critical juncture, I wonder what this says about their commitment to Somalis," Congressman Payne said in opening remarks at the historic hearing in Washington.

Congressman Payne, who chaired the meeting, promoted the hearing as a discussion forum among Somalis to debate "common issues," such as humanitarian aid, terrorism and piracy. Discussion of political agendas including Somaliland's breakaway status was not part of the hearing.

But Somaliland Foreign Minister Du'ale downplayed the U.S. Congressman's comments, telling lawmakers in Hargeisa that Somaliland was pushing ahead to become internationally recognized as an independent country.

The relatively peaceful separatist region is ruled by President Dahir Riyale, who was elected in 2003 but has delayed presidential elections and extended his term in violation of the region's constitution.


Remittances a lifeline to Somalis: Informal family business in Somaliland becomes multi-million dollar empire.

By Tristan McConnell - GlobalPost, July 4, 2009

AHARGEISA, Somaliland — What began as a way for exiled Somalis to send money to relatives at home has become a company that almost single-handedly keeps the entire war-torn country afloat.

“Remittances are a lifeline to Somalis,” said Abdirashid Duale, chief executive of Dahabshiil, at his Hargeisa headquarters. “They are the main income people here receive.”

Dahabshiil, a family-owned money transfer company, is a household name among Somalis. It is also Somalia's economic linchpin connecting the wealthy diaspora with the impoverished homebodies.

In Dahabshiil’s headquarters, the uneven staircases, woozily slanting walls and off-kilter balustrades lend the office a half-finished feel. Duale, a fast-talking and broadly smiling man who lives between London and Hargeisa, sweats in the heat despite the air conditioning whirring in the background.

The office has the relaxed charm of many a family-run African business. Duale’s father, Dahabshiil’s founder, shuffles by in his sandals, a length of printed material wrapped around his waist and a short traditional walking stick tucked under his arm as he makes his way to a private office on the roof where he sits cross-legged on the floor in front of a computer.

It is all a far cry from Western Union’s Colorado headquaters or Moneygram’s in Minnesota. But then Hargeisa is an unlikely place to find a multi-million dollar financial services company.

The heat is stultifying, the dusty streets filled with potholes, battered cars and ambling pedestrians. The tangled birds’ nests of wires that cling to every telegraph pole are testament to the recent boom in telephone connections. Informal stalls that sell imported goods and Ethiopian-grown khat, a popular plant chewed as a stimulant, line the roads. Money changers sit behind bricks of local currency.

The Dahabshiil name is ubiquitous: etched into concrete posts that mark crossroads, emblazoned on spare wheel covers on the back of 4x4s and stuck on signboards outside shops and offices offering money transfer services.

The World Bank estimates that remittances worth around $1 billion a year reach Somalia from emigres in the U.S., Europe and the Gulf states. And industry experts reckon that Dahabshiil may handle around two-thirds of that and as much of half of it may reach the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland.

When Somalia’s military government collapsed in 1991, the rebel army in the country's northwest unilaterally announced its secession from Somalia. The rebel leaders reverted to the colonial borders and the old British name Somaliland but no other country has recognized the country, leaving it in legal limbo and financial isolation.

Without World Bank and International Monetary Fund engagement, Somaliland struggles. Foreign minister Abdullahi Duale (no relation) explained: “We are a very poor country operating in a very difficult environment with the lack of recognition … we rely on our own resources and revenues.” The entire government’s budget is less than $50 million a year.

Dahabshiil aims to allow the more than a million Somalis spread across the world to have a quick and easy way to send money home. With one-tenth of Somalia’s population emigres, the country has become a nation without borders, the vast majority of its people’s spending power earned overseas.

Economists have referred to the chaos of Somalia as “an economy without a state” as business goes on without a functioning government.

It is a description that Dahabshiil’s Duale welcomes.

“We need less government. We had the experience of the Siad Barre government [until 1991] that wanted to control everything, so the culture in Somaliland is to be open … to have less government control,” he said. “Somalis still want to be nomadic, they want to go anywhere they like and do business wherever they like.”

Dahabshiil has grown with the diaspora. The money transfer, or hawaala, business is rooted in traditional networks of kinship and trust, using clan allegiances to guarantee the near-instant transfers.

“Everything relies on trust here,” Duale said.

With the start of a civil war in 1988 that led to Somaliland’s secession, the hawaala business of Duale’s father grew charging a commission to enable Somalis get money to their relatives in refugee camps in Ethiopia.

Today identifying information still includes details of clan membership but the traditional networks have been updated with modern technology including online money transfers and SMS notification.

Dahabshiil’s growth accelerated after 9/11 when the U.S. government shut down its biggest competitor, Mogadishu-based Al Barakat, on suspicion of helping fund terrorism. The new regulations have caused Dahabshiil to migrate from the informal to the formal sector.

The company now has 1,000 agents in 40 countries and is the largest private sector employer in Somalia with 2,000 workers in more than 200 offices.

Duale admits that the collapsing world economy has hit remittances from the West. “People from Britain and America are sending less, just the basic amount say to pay school fees, not the amounts they used to send to build houses or to invest in businesses.”

Duale intends to make Dahabshiil’s foreign exchange, banking and mobile phone businesses as popular among Somalis as the money transfer business. His ambitions are perhaps most clearly seen in downtown Hargeisa where a huge new Dahabshill bank is under construction.

“Very soon people will be able to go to a Dahabshiil ATM in Hargeisa and withdraw money. Very soon we will offer a lot of the products you can get in London here in Hargeisa. Why not?” asked Mr Duale. “The technology is here, the money is here. I believe everything is possible.” Tristan McConnell and Narayan Mahon traveled to Somaliland on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


Standoff over captives between Yemen and Somaliland not yet solved

http://www.australia.to/index.php?option=com_content&view=article

Nine Yemeni nationals along with their two boats have been seized in the Zeila area of Somaliland. The six Yemeni men stand accused by the Somali authorities to smuggle people from Somalia to Yemen.

After these news reached Yemen the Yemeni security forces in Dubab arrested a Somali livestock trader and three Yemenis to press the six Yemenis free. Yemeni fishermen and livestock traders suspended their work in Dubab to avoid any further arrest and demand now from the Yemeni authorities in Dubab to swiftly free the Somali livestock trader as a first step to solve the issue and release all captives.

The news came while the recent incident in which two Yemeni fishermen have been killed and another one was wounded by international anti-piracy warship, which fired at their boat in the Red Sea, has not been clarified. Abdu Mrwani and Mohammad Najai were killed and Ahmed Marwani was seriously wounded when a Russian warship fired at their boat in the Red Sea off the Sudan coast.


Somaliland youth risk death in search of better life

HARGEISA, (insidesomalia.org 04 July 2009) – Harir Omar Yusuf, about to finish high school, should be choosing a degree course and deciding on a career direction; instead, he spends most of his time planning a perilous escape from his hometown of Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland in the northwest of Somalia, to Europe.

“As soon as I finish high school I will go there, because I have nothing to stay for in Somaliland,” he told IRIN, adding that his parents could not afford university fees and he was not assured of a place even if they could.

Yusuf has many friends who have made the journey – first through Ethiopia, then Sudan and Libya and finally to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea – and are now living as illegal immigrants in Italy and other European nations. He also has many friends languishing in Sudanese or Libyan jails, arrested for entering the country illegally, and knows of many who died making the trip, but he remains determined.

Tens of thousands of Somalis also try to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen every year aboard small vessels run by people-traffickers operating from Somali ports; according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), one out of every 20 people attempting the journey in 2007 died.

Yusuf says he would rather risk death than live a life of certain poverty in Somaliland.

Unemployment

“The issue of young people running away is very problematic in Somaliland,” said Omer Ali Abdi, the director of the youth department in the Ministry of Youth and Sports. “Year after year, graduates from secondary schools are increasing and our universities just don’t have the capacity to take in all of them – and even when they graduate from university, there is no guarantee they will get a job.”

“Because it is unrecognised internationally, Somaliland has no access to bi-lateral funding, which has caused our economy to suffer, especially after the livestock ban of 1999, which destroyed the main source of income of most of our people,” Abdi said. “For the same reason, international scholarships and higher education exchange programmes are not open to our students.”

An outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Saudi Arabia in 1999 resulted in a regional ban on imported livestock from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti; the ban on Somalia remains in place and now includes several other Middle Eastern nations.

After the ban, remittances became the main foreign exchange earner; thousands fled the country during an outbreak of war in 1988, and regularly send money to their families. The Ministry of Planning estimates remittances account for US$500 million – or about 80 percent of Somaliland’s economy.

“When people leave the country legally, we are happy that they are able to send back money, but as much as possible we try to discourage young people from leaving illegally – then it becomes a matter of life and death and we cannot encourage that,” Abdi said.

Despite the risks, many families scrimp and save to send their children on these journeys. Over the past year, Amina Rooble (not her real name) has spent more than $6,500 on transport, communication, paying traffickers and bribing prison officers, all in an effort to get her son Hashim to Italy.

Although his boat sank, Hashim survived and is now seeking asylum in Italy. “Even though my son was rescued, two other members of my family died on that boat,” Rooble said.

Incentive to stay

The government and local NGOs have run campaigns to discourage young people from leaving, but according to Yahye Mohamoud Ahmed, head of the Somaliland National Youth Organisation NGO, unless the government can provide some motivation, young people will continue to escape in droves.

“They have no incentive to stay – no jobs and no businesses, so it is fairly futile to tell them to stay,” he said. “They need to be given the capacity to feed themselves here.”

Ahmed added that many young men were now taking swimming lessons and using hi-tech communication equipment – such as satellite telephones to make SOS calls – to make their trips safer.

“When they hear about their friends and relatives in London or Italy, they get encouraged to go; even when their relatives have no jobs there, they still think they have a better life than here,” he added.

According to Ahmed Abdi, the national development plan includes the creation of two vocational training institutes in every region of Somaliland to boost the number of tertiary institutions and the variety of courses available.

“We also intend to set up micro-finance schemes to enable them to be self-supporting,” he added.

He noted that despite the continued livestock ban, a few countries in the Arab world were starting to buy Somaliland’s meat, and the government hoped the Saudi ban would be lifted, restoring the industry.

Youth policy

The Ministry of Youth and Sports, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is drafting a national youth policy – due to be passed by parliament in 2011 – that hopes to address issues of youth emigration, unemployment, education and political participation.

“What we need more than anything is resources from our international partners focused on development rather than strictly emergencies – resources focusing on education and building the economy would encourage young people to stay and build their own nation,” the Ministry of Youth’s Abdi said.


Somalia: Somaliland opposition warn government against election delay

HARGEISA, Somalia July 5 (Garowe Online) - Two opposition parties in Somalia's separatist republic of Somaliland issued a joint statement Sunday warning the government not to delay the presidential election again, Radio Garowe reports.

The joint statement from the only opposition parties in Somaliland, Kulmiye and UCID, stated that the presidential election has been "delayed four times" and that the opposition has "no confidence" in the Somaliland election commission.

"[Election delays] has created a political dispute and lack of confidence…for Somaliland democratic progress by worrying [world] governments, donors and the Somaliland public in general," the statement read.

The statement warned that another election delay would be "sole responsibility" of the election commission and the current administration.

Further, the opposition parties recommended that the Somaliland election commission be "expanded by four new members," while calling for "changing four members of political mediation committee."

The opposition parties called on Somaliland's ruling UDUB party to "immediately present its case regarding the election commission."

Somaliland's political crisis began in May 2008 when incumbent President Dahir Riyale's five-year term in office was extended by an additional year by the upper house of parliament, the House of Guurti. Opposition parties condemned the extension and called it unconstitutional.

A year later, President Riyale received a second term extension after the House of Guurti to allowed him to remain in office until the presidential elections slated for the end 2009 are held.


A Trip To The Unknown – Perception versus Reality

Emily will be writing to Somalilandpress about her experience in Somaliland and will be offering tips to anyone who may want to visit the unrecognized republic along the way – discover Somaliland from a Non-Somali perspective. This is her fourth article – Perception versus Reality.

Hargeisa, Jul 2 2009 (Somalilandpress) — Tempting as it is to disprove the false and generally negative images of Somaliland worldwide, which are plentiful, I find myself struggling to find a balance between writing only about positive aspects of the country, and thus overlooking some less attractive truths of this very real place, while at the same time I am hesitant to say anything that may be perceived as negative because I want to promote this country which is housing me, feeding me, and caring for my life. Ultimately I have decided to try my best to leave my (positive) biases at the door, because if I don’t expand on the aspects of Somaliland that could be improved upon, I am cheating you, not being true to myself, and also could be hurting the country. It is with these thoughts in mind that I continue to type. I will also keep posting pictures so you can see for yourself those beautiful and ugly things which I am recounting.

I think you will be happy to know that I just returned from my first visit outside of Hargeisa. I spent 6 days in the “wild west” along with my co-workers, which was a great opportunity to learn more about the political and social dynamics of Somaliland and to talk openly about the elections which are scheduled to take place in September. As you may know, the elections have already been postponed and the current president (Dahir Rayaale) has been in power for seven years. The more people I talk to, the more I realize how few people trust or support the current regime for various reasons, including its lackadaisical attitude, corruption, and false promises. At the same time, Rayaale has not been causing physical harm to the people, there have been no killings or false arrests or things like that, peace is real, and so the Somaliland community at large is sitting back, afraid to disturb the peace because they know what war is. So it is a strange situation, where most people have lost faith in the government, even strongly oppose it, but they are willing to sacrifice anything—including employment, education, health services, and economic development— to preserve peace. I am not sure what this will mean for the upcoming elections, but I guess they will reveal themselves in the upcoming months.

Now that I’ve put the heavy stuff out in the open, let me tell you a story. Last week I was complaining to a friend of mine that there are no girls playing sports here, and I feel like I will get fat just sitting, working, eating, and sometimes walking. He told me that was not true, that just next to my office there is a place where girls play basketball. I thought he was joking, but sure enough he took me to this club and we saw about 20 girls donned in hijabs playing basketball, really going at it, and also playing soccer on the other side of the court. I wanted to go join them but I felt too shy. My friend was insistent though, he motioned at one of the girls and she walked over and greeted us. She took me by the hand and practically dragged me into the sports club, and after a few minutes I felt happy and comfortable and even got my hands on the ball. It was great fun—we played a full game, just girls, and they thought it was so funny when I scored. I agreed to come every week to play with them, and intend to keep my word.

Finally, some pictures and commentary. The first picture shows the landscape and some traditional Somali houses—or “aqal Soomaali”. Around the houses are small bushes which are prickly, and people dry their clothes on them because even strong winds do not force the clothes off of the bushes.

The next picture is scenery from the drive between Borame and Baki, where there are beautiful layers of mountains and because this region gets more rain, you can see greenery and farms. There are few areas in Somaliland that support farming, and historically the population is a nomadic one, reliant mostly on cattle and grazing. In fact, the slogan for all Somalis is “nabad iyo caano” which means “peace and milk”. It is a very accurate phrase which reflects the necessities for a good life. For a foreigner the word “peace” is obvious, but why “milk”? Well, if your camels produce large quantities of milk, not only can it sustain you and also be sold, but it means the land is fertile; there is water and abundant rains. So you have enough to live off of economically and physically, and now you just need peace.

In contrast to the beautiful and natural mountains, and as one person commented in my last article, it is impossible to ignore the piles of trash scattered about. One reflection of the weak government and perhaps finances is the lack of planned trash disposal or collection in Somaliland. I still feel guilty every time I litter, even though it is the only way to dispose of trash.

So I included this picture of the trash mountains in Borama, which are next to a busy soccer field, in an area of stunning natural beauty.

It is my hope that trash collection will improve here, as it could provide a lot of jobs aside from the obvious health and environmental benefits, but I also know that I have been to other countries with the same problem, and the fact is that when you are worrying about finding employment and safety and caano, trash collection is not the first thing on your “to do” list.

Finally, I included a picture of downtown Borama to give you an illustration of a different city. Both Hargeisa and Borama are constantly bustling, the restaurants don’t close until after 11pm and there are always people socializing on the streets.

That’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading.

Until next time,

Emily


Somaliland and the Art of the Possible

Hargeisa, 2 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Amazing it is how some of the websites talk about the refusal of Somaliland government to participate at the so-called Washington meeting. It is also clear that most of those websites misunderstood or are just misguided by the declaration of Mr Donald Payne about Somaliland refusal. But my reaction and I believe most of the reactions of all Somaliland lovers are moments of joys and happiness. Yes, we are all proud of our government. Let me explain myself.

The other day I was reading an article written by our honorable Mr. Dalmar kaahin and I remember one the quotation of Mr. Kaahin which says: “And because the hearing is convened in Washington doesn’t mean Somaliland will jump on the wagon to join the meeting.” This is absolutely right. Somaliland came because of the will of its people and we will not surrender our hardly gained freedom because an American congressman invited us to reconcile with the south.

The Somaliland government did the right thing by refusing to participate in this meeting, and our government was just doing his job because it was elected to protect the interest of the Somaliland people and it is not in our interest to lower ourselves and surrender our will because a “congressman” says so. Somaliland answers only to God and to its own people.

It is also clear that Mr. Payne was upset when he said: “If they (Somaliland) want to be isolated I will do all I can to isolate them”.

Too many questions arise here:

Is it the meeting really held in Washington? The United States?

The symbol of the free world? It is true that Mr. Payne represent the voice of the United States government?

How dare a United States congressman is talking about suppressing the will of a given people by “isolating them”?

More questions are asked and more answers come out. Let me try to give an honest picture of what is going on here.

It is clear that the United States will not recognize Somaliland as long as the USA interest is to satisfy the Arab world specially Egypt (Which is the most furious opponent of Somaliland sovereignty) for different economic and political reasons. But this will not discourage us because the feeling of freedom and the notion of statehood are something that the Somaliland people are enjoying for 19 years and only God can remove this will.

We all know that the so called International communities are self interest so do the Somaliland people too.

However in order to fulfill its own interest somebody has to be realistic, the international community has to be realistic, Mr. Payne need to be realistic. How long it will take to the international community to understand that the key for Somalia stability is in Somaliland? How many more billions of dollars they will be wasting for a factious government (TFG) before they realize that they are wrong? The first thing that I leaned in Political Science at the university it that: “Politics is the art of the possible”. Somaliland is not a Possibility, it is a Reality. So if the international community needs to stabilize Somalia they need to see the only reality this region, Somaliland.

Some people (especially Somaliland enemies) believe that the key to Somaliland destruction is to not recognize it internationally but they forgot that Somaliland people survived 19 years of isolation and ignorance of the international community; can Mr. Payne do more than that? I really doubt.

And then what was this meeting all about? What were the purposes and results of this meeting? The answer of this question is nothing, absolutely nothing. It was just a mean for Mr. Payne to show to the congress that he is doing some progress on the Somali nightmare.

This meeting was Mr. Payne’s meeting not the United States government. And we can understand Mr. Payne frustration because he did not realize his personal wishes.

I will advise to Mr. Payne to go back and read the history of the Somaliland people then understand the psychology and what is going on inside the mind of a hard working Somaliland patriot, you may me chocked, probably you will hate him but you will never underestimate him.

God bless the land of my fathers, Somaliland.

Jibril Y. Omar, Kabul, Afghanistan


Somaliland Government rejects US meeting on Somalia

Hargeisa (Somalilandpress 29 June 2009 )- Somaliland Government says they would not attend a conference about Somalia that will take place in USA, though Somaliland has been invited to attend the meeting.

Somaliland Foreign Affairs Ministers, Abdullahi Muhammad Duale, told the press in Hargeysa [the capital of Somaliland], that his government was not ready to attend the conference aimed at discussing Somalia affairs.

He said the conference had nothing to do with Somaliland, and that it was for Somalia and Puntland regional autonomous [in northeastern Somalia]. Somalilandpress reporter in Hargeysa, said that the minister, who returned from Kenyan capital, Nairobi, took the decision after meeting with US embassy officials in Nairobi.

The minister said that Somalia and Somaliland are two different countries, adding that Somaliland was ready to talk with US as an independent country.

Reports say that US congress has invited Somali government, Puntland and Somaliland to attend a meeting over Somalia crisis.