By: Muse Farah
Somalilandsun – The government of Somaliland showed unusual nervousness after the Consultative and Rectification Council was recently created.Part of the nervousness is because up until now it had no serious opposition from the parliament or from the political parties. It looks that the long honey moon the government had since winning elections three years ago is coming to an end.
The creation of the council therefore touched the wrong nerve of the government. The President spoke about it and so are Ministers as well leadership of both Chambers of Parliament.
The government has not even stopped there but orchestrated a wider campaign in the media it controls and through the traditional leaders to misinform about the intentions of the Council. Concentrating on the Somali word for council, ‘Gole’ the government and its supporters argue the council is illegal and there can be no council other than the council of Ministers, parliament that is allowed by law.
The council does not agree that and say they are for advice and rectification, without claiming any authority to further their professed lofty aims. What is wrong with that? Nothing- if you read and understand our constitution that guarantees freedoms of assembly and thought. In fact, some of the 16 points the group is raising is daily talked in ‘mefrishes’ all over Hargeisa.
Thanks to the Sultans’ intervention, talks are now underway to meditate between the government and the group. It is believed that Sultans asked the council to drop the word ‘council’ from their name. It is likely group will agree to this demand from the Sultans. Let us hope that talks become fruitful, concluded peacefully, and all side makes the necessary compromises. It is these sorts of dialogue and consensus that Somaliland benefitted so much in the past.
The reactions of the government and its supporters toward the new council reflect our lingering intolerant attitude towards dissent. Memories from the days of Siad Barre Security Courts will stay with some of us. All sorts of gathering are considered with suspicion hence, the talk of imprisoning the members of the council. There are rumours abound that the government meets clan elders to seek their support in detaining members of the council
Conflict and Peace both originate in the minds of mankind. The former go hand in hand with distrust the later, goodwill. Conflicts happen in our daily lives out of differences of opinion but it is us to make it not destructive. Indeed, without conflicting opinions there will be no progress to talk of. We shall be stagnant. Some people of limited vision do not see it that way though. You find these people in all sorts of places. They can be worrisome if they are in position of authority. It seems we have plenty of them nowadays.
How not so harmful conflict turns into perilous one? It begins with unresolved misunderstanding fueled by mutual distrust and animosity. Let us take example. The government is now getting a lot different information about the new Council. We can guess how this information could be an exaggeration of the intention of the group. Some of the security organs have often tendency to exaggerate danger because they want to proof their relevance or get extra pay in pursuit of imaginary enemy. The result will be ill-advised pressure on the government to react with all its negative consequences.
Somaliland government must understand it is elected through the will of the people. It is not a military junta that bends justice according to its whims. People have right to discuss any topic under the sun and give advices to their own government if at all it is listening.
In the history of Somaliland, there is no government that put so much effort to dismantle the institutions of democracy than the present Silaanyo administration. We all know the number of journalists imprisoned by this government surpassed all the three administrations that preceded imprisoned put together. It is widely believed that media is either bribed or intimidated. Recent attack on Hubaal newspaper by two men one of whom captured by the staff on the spot and learned to be policeman speaks volumes especially when it became apparent to everybody that the government was not willing to prosecute the culprits. To add insult to injury, Hubaal is subsequently banned. That is justice under Silaanyo for you.
The first election held under Silaanyo administration, the last local council elections is below the standard of all those that have taken place before it such as the Presidential election of 2003, parliamentary elections of 2005 and Presidential elections of 2010. In all those elections, International Observers described them free and fair but not the local council elections of 2012. IO concluded that it was only FREE but not FAIR which is a negative publicity for Somaliland democratization that had good name in the world.
We all know how the House of Representatives was elected in 2005 and for that matter Guurti would prefer to stay on, if the government of the day does not initiate an election which is primarily its responsibility. Once they were left alone many members of the House of Representatives and Guurti abdicate from their duties. Instead, quite a number of them are busy running after contracts from the government and outside without any sort of compunction about conflict of interest or the shame they bring to their Houses.
This kind of culture became widespread under this regime. It is indeed this blatant corruption that Silaanyo administration embarked upon soon after coming to power that thoroughly demoralizes the people who elected his government. Waaheen newspaper on July 27 discloses permission given by Silaanyo to one Member of House of Representatives to take over government land in the quarter of Hargeisa he lives. The paper further adds that Hargeisa local council members refused to endorse the request from the President. There are lot of reliable information which indicate widespread corruption around the Presidency that involve revenues from the port of Berbera, revenues from the fuel depots, Somaliland Road authorities, funds amounting millions paid by Genel Energy oil prospecting company for local development in the east. It is widely believed that the money by Genel was handled in a not transparent way. The incident risked violent confrontation between the government and local people of the area who were not consulted.
The organization, anti-corruption commission that was supposed to look over the government is nothing else but name. One wonders why it is Chairman who many thought to be man of propriety not resigning and colluding in the farce theatrics by the government especially when his commission was renamed commission for good governance by the council of Ministers thus throwing, as it were, the word ‘corruption’ from the window. How blatant.
Corruption is scourge of the developing nations. One of the reasons that Silaanyo government was elected was people thought it will not tolerate corruption. The government succeeded to increase the budget thanks to the increase of the tax to the ordinary people while disdaining to do the same to the riches companies in the country. It is so unfair that poor women selling tomatoes and potatoes pay much by ratio in tax than the richest people of the country. It is even more unfair that the money collected from these ordinary people be squandered by corrupt officials.
Clanism and its divisiveness.
It is open secret clanist divisiveness is on rise in the country to an extent it effected sports and youth. Why? It looks that many who are in authority have no other skills other than analyzing all political issues through clan prism. People are not seen on the merit of what they can contribute to the country but from which clan they represent. People are dismissed, hired given contracts through these kinds of methods. It is no doubt that clan is factor in our country. It is however wrong to misuse to an extent of either denying or favouring people get opportunities. We are all equal under the law. Deny that and you are playing with fire.
We have civil service Commission who should be involved when the government is hiring people for jobs but very little attention is given to go along that procedure. Ministers, Directors and Managers employ people they like and who are mostly of their own. Vehicles and other government equipment are procured without being tendered. It is this kind illegal favourtisms that is behind some frustrations from the public. Grabbing land in the prime areas of Hargeisa city that belonged to the state is unabated. It looks that control of these things is lost.
One course of action is however very wrong for any opposition group or party to make. It is to blame Ahmed Silanyo’s actions on his own clan. The present government is elected by all the people from all the regions of Somaliland. There are also people from all regions and clans in the government. It is usually the habit of our people to accuse a whole clan when addressing the present government problems. Nothing is more misleading and counterproductive than that. Our intention should be how to build on what good we have and rectify mistakes our government is making but not a witch hunt on particular people or clan who are as innocent as the rest.
Let us not pretend there is no elephant in the room. We all know that President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo is getting aged. Though some people may exaggerate that it is obvious he is NOT following the day to day tasks needed to be accomplished for the state. He is however elected in a democratic election and cannot behave like North Korean dictator who can pass authority to his kith and kin. If he is not up to the job because of age and infirmity he should come out honestly and bow out in grace. If he does that he will not only salvage his reputation and history but Somaliland will not be drifting in the rough seas without a helm.
Wrtten by : Muse Farah, Hargeisa