• 68 prisoners released
• 9 ministers to oversee prisoner exchange
• Hargeisa university students from Sool support accord
• Buhodle parliamentarians vow to uphold agreements
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Buhodle residents are celebrating the imminent return of 68 of their sons.
The 68 were all long term prisoners at the Mandera maximum security prison where they were their release was effected by prison commanders following a presidential clemency.
While affecting the release at the Mandera prison Deputy custodial corps commander Hasan Ali Awed said he was fulfilling a presidential clemency for 68 former SSC militia combatants as per directive # 254 from the Somaliland presidency and signed by H.E Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo the president of Somaliland.
The release ceremony which was witnessed by Government ministers, the Buhodle peace delegation, members of parliament, civil servants, traditional leaders and civilians was informed by Commander Hasan that the presidential pardon to the former militias is part of the Buhodle peace agreement between Hagaltosie and President Silanyo.
The President Silanyo pardon to the 68 prisoners who were in prison in relation to armed activities affected by the Sool, Sanaag & Cayn (Ain)-SSC militia official put into geared the much awaited Buhodle peace accord signed by President Silanyo and former militia commander turned politician peace Maker Suleiman Isse Ahmed Hagaltosie in Dubai.
After stuttering for a short time the peace accord breathed life after Hagaltosie official arrival in Hargeisa last week for meetings with the president and other government official that were undertaken at the presidency with successful conclusion.
The presidential clemency of the 68 prisoners jumpstarts implementation of the peaceful reconciliation that is geared towards establishing peaceful co-existence in Buhodle district and ultimately the wider Sool region through availing local residents opportunity to air their grievances against the central government in Hargeisa.
An official prisoners exchange between the national army and SSC militia is to officially take place on the 12th Aug 2012 in Qorulugud town of Buhodle district where the 68 former SSC militiamen were transported immediately upon their release.
The exchange in Qorulugud that will see the army hand over the 68 former militiamen in exchange for four army officers captured by the SSC during the height of armed skirmishes between the army and the tribal militias in various parts of Buhodle.
The four army officers who were released by the SSC are currently being hosted by traditional leaders at Oog town a few kilometres from Qorulugud town where the official exchange will take place with the government represented by 9 cabinet ministers and regional authorities while the SSC and Buhodle community will be represented by Hagaltosie and Buhodle elders including members of the Somaliland two houses of parliament (Guurti and House of representatives) from the region.
According to the minister of defence Hon Ahmed H Adami, once the prisoner exchange has been successfully accomplished the military will move its base in Sooljoto town of Buhodle district and return the army units to their pre-conflict bases elsewhere in the country.
The defence minister who echoed recent similar words by Hagaltosie who faced insurmountable obstacles towards implementation the peace accord said, “Whether we are praised or not we have chosen to reconcile peaceful through negotiation rather than armed skirmishes”
Some of the 9 ministers representing the government at the Qorulugud prisoner exchange function and follow-up talks in Buhodle town include:
1. Eastern regions reconciliation minister Hon Keyse Abdi Yusuf
2. Interior minister Hon Mohamed Duur Arale
3. Defence minister Hon Ahmed Haji Adami
4. Presidency minister Hon Hirsi Haji Ali
5. Finance minister Hon Abdiaziz Mohamed Samale
6. Deputy interior minister Hon Osman Garaad Sofe
A huge sigh of relief was heard nationwide from Somalilanders of all walks of life who have been very supportive of the Silanyo-Hagaltosie Buhodle peace accord after the positive and encouraging outcome of the first phase of peaceful reconciliation owing to the never ending headache that has been the norm following differences between Sool region tribesmen and the central government.
During a press conference held in Hargeisa students from Sool region who are studying in various universities in the country said they fully support the peace accord and will do their best to ensure that contravention does not occur. Similar sentiments were made by elders representing Buhodle and Sool region at the Guurti which is the upper house of Somaliland’s parliament.
Prior to the start of the official peace talks and arrival of Hagaltosie and his large delegation in Hargeisa, H.E Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo the president appointed Former militia commander turned politician Keyse Abdi Yusuf as the Minister of State for National Reconciliation for Eastern regions.
While the appointment of Keyse came as a surprise to many who expected Hagaltosie to join the cabinet, citizens hailed President Silanyo for what they termed as a bold move capable from a true leader. Hon Keyse Abdi is leading the government delegation currently en-route to Qorulugud and Buhodle towns.
Before his appointment Hon Keyse Abdi served of the SSCD political group that failed to pass muster thus disapproved as a viable local council contester by the political parties’ registration and verification committee-PPR&VC
It is now hoped that main segments of the Buhodle peace accord will now be accelerated following the successfully implementation of phase one that saw imprisoned combatants from both sides released.
A press statement released after the signing of the Buhodle peace accord at Dubai’s MINA-SALAAMA HOTEL revealed that the meeting agreed on the need to end continuous clashes in Buhodle district and other areas of Sool region thus avail citizens the benefit of public services while informing that President Silanyo who commended Hagaltosie for his desire for peace, also stressed on the SSC leader on the importance of expedited end to hostilities, promising his personal full support as well as that of the government and people of Somaliland thus normalize the turbulent eastern region of the country.
According to the terms of the peace accord Hagaltosie the former militia commander now turned politician and peacemaker will first disband the SSC militia, hand over weapons to the national army thence the commence of peace talks.
After these activities are concluded talk’s preparatory teams from the government and Buhodle community will hold discussions in both Hargeisa and Buhodle to establish talk’s mechanisms.
Once peaceful reconciliation which is the essence of the talks between the government and the local community is attained agreed remuneration that entail a give and give situation will then be initiated i.e.
1. Absorption of former SSC militias in the army, police force, custodial corps and coast guard.
2. Government to establish mechanisms that will facilitate provision of public services. Etc.
While these are some of the supposedly accords on paper other main give from the government include appointment of Hagaltosie as a full cabinet minister in the Silanyo government as well as appointments of area residents to the civil service.
The successful cessation of hostilities between the government and Sool region residents and more specifically those from Buhodle will crown lengthily peaceful reconciliation efforts by President Silanyo who has extended On numerous occasions a call for peace to the Sool people asking them to table their grievances peacefully rather than continued armed skirmishes that solves nothing apart from exacerbating the animosities
At the same time the end to hostilities in the area will not only afford the residents participate and benefit from national development projects but will negate the oft disturbing issue of unsecured borders.
The success in ending hostilities in Buhodle and the wider sool region is a major achievement by president Silanyo coming in the heels of the just concluded diplomatic relationship agreement with President Sheikh Sharif of Somalia.