Somaliland: SOLJA and SONSAF in Media Reform Tug of War

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“All things to do with media in Somaliland is the sole preserve of our association” –SOLJA

“We are intent on helping create conducive working environment for journalists in Somaliland in conjunction with SOLJA which is one of our member organizations” SONSAF

SOLJA and SONSAF in the Tango of the Media

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun – A storm is brewing the Somaliland Journalists Association-SOLJA and Somaliland Non State Actors Forum-SONSAF over a meeting for journalists to devise the way forward as pertains to deterrence and alleviation of deteriorating relations between the fourth estate and government.

Hiccups started on Monday evening when SOLJA released a statement castigating SONSAF for interfering in issues that are not in its preserve after the later body extended invitation to print and Media houses for a way forward brainstorming meeting slated at Mansoor Hotel in Hargeisa on the 30th of this month.

In its invitation extended to 6 media associations, 5 TV stations and 12 newspapers each requested to send a representative to the meeting in whose main objective is to brainstorm prevalent fourth estate status in the country and subsequent recommendations on the way forward.

But according to SOLJA acrimonies do not exist between it and the government thence the SONSAF planned meeting is a mission funded by foreign entities to derail the freedom of press enjoyed by its members as enshrined in the Constitution of Somaliland.

In its statement SOLJA identifies the source of funds earmarked for the SONSAF mission of wrecking havoc on smooth running activities of the country’s fledgling media industry, as Safer world which is itself funded by the European Union.

Safer world which is not only the founder but long term partner of SONSAF as well is a UK based independent international organization working to prevent violent conflict and build safer lives. It works with local people affected by conflict to improve their safety and sense of security, and conduct wider research and analysis. We use this evidence and learning to improve local, national and international policies and practices that can help build lasting peace

SOLJA though not the only one is the biggest nongovernmental body working towards the welfare of Journalists in Somaliland through an elected committee pooled from TV stations, Newspapers, Radio Hargeisa and a number of websites operating in and out of the country.

Other media welfare institutions operating in Somaliland and like SOLJA affiliates of SONSAF include the Women in Journalism Association-WIJA, SSJW, USJ, SOA and Committee for Independence Media all invited to the 30th meeting.

In justification of its right to organize and host a meeting for journalists in the country the SONSAF chairman Mustafa Sa’ad Dimbil himself a fully fledged journalists told Somalilandsun that he was perturbed to read the press release at midnight because “apart from SOLJA being an affiliate of our Forum, their chairman (SOLJA) Hasan Mohamed Yusuf is the partner organizer and will officially open the meeting at Mansoor on Thursday”

While we failed to ascertain this, the Statement of SOLJA condemning SONSAF for the purportedly foreign funded mission to derail freedom of press in the country was signed by the deputy chair and Secretary General of SOLJA Mr. Mohamed Abdi Guleid and Mohamedrashid Muhumed Farah respectively whom upon queries are adamant on the fact of their lack of pre-knowledge of the meeting.

While informing that they became aware of the plans to brainstorm the non-existent acrimony between it and Government in Hargeisa the duo in their statement said “We shall not let SONSAF under foreign funding destroy the cohesiveness existing in the country’s fourth estate, government, judiciary and legislature”

Adding that “While any outcomes of the meeting if ever be one shall not be considered we urge SONSAF to retract its invitation or be prepared to deal with severe acts as established by laws of Somaliland”

While the current administration of Kulmiye party has had the highest number of recorded journalists detentions since 1991 when Somaliland reclaimed its independence after revoking its voluntary later turned fateful union with Somalia-Italia negotiations with SOLJA have always ensued with positive results the only opposite being the issue of Hubaal which is in limbo and the newspaper still proscribed.

If it be true it is inexplicable how and why the Chairman of SOLJA is not only privy but part and parcel of the arrangements while his two top lieutenants are not, but more incomprehensible is why SONSAF deemed it fit to again if it be true, consult only with chairman Hasan and exclude the balance of the scribes body elected committee.

The perspicacity here is there is either a big rift within the SOLJA managerial ranks resulting in factions that operate oblivious of the other or SONSAF though with a plausible strategy and reportedly good intentions are guilty as accused of having ulterior and destructive motives for the fourth estate.

Meanwhile the litmus test of who wins the SOLJA and SONSAF tug of war shall be Thursday 30th Jan at Mansoor hotel but as usual when two strong bulls tangle and entangle horns it is the grass that suffers.

Below is the list of SONSAF invited media organizations and houses

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

Media Organizations

• SOLJA

• WIJA

• SSJW

• USJ

• SOA-

• Committee for Independence Media

TVs

1. HCTV

2. SNLTV

3. BULSHO

4. SLSC

5. RADIO HARHEISA

Newspapers

1. WAAHEEN

2. JAMHURIA

3. GEESKA AFRICA

4. HAATUF

5. YOOL

6. OGAAL

7. HIMILO

8. FOORE

9. HUBAAL

10. SL-TODAY

11. XOGAGAL

12. SAXAFI

13. SAXANSAXO

14. DAWAN

For more details and information on the organizations click SOLJA, SONSAF and Saferworld

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