By Ali Mohamed
Somalilandsun -Last week, the speaker shut down the Somaliland parliament after a group of legislators loyal to the Silanyo/Hirsi administration challenged his leadership position. Mr. Irro, a former civil servant, was elected the speaker of the parliament in 2005, not on the merit of his political skills or policy expertise but because he was willing to advance the political agenda of then candidate Silanyo. The current Parliament shutdown is a crisis that he created because of his poor leadership.
The Parliament Irro has been presiding never checked the massive corruptions, power abuses and the excess of former Rayale administration and the current Silanyo/Hirsi administration. The speaker has made the parliament a rubber stamp legislature body. Whatever legislative agenda, the special interest groups both domestic and foreign demanded such as communications banking, and piracy, were passed without any hearings or debates. He also allowed President Silanyo to open a dialogue with a fictional Somali government. But the greatest failure of Erro’s leadership was making the Parliament of Somaliland as an extension of Silanyo/Hirsi administration.
The speaker, not only made the legislative body insignificant, but he also abandoned his full time job—managing effectively the legislature. Instead, he was very busy organizing his own political party “The Orange party” and spent most of the time travelling overseas and fundraising activities.
Now, after he failed to bring together 42 legislators that could save his job, and the imminent demise of his leadership position; he chose to close the parliament’s business. Moreover, he is also called the supreme rulers of Somaliland “The house of elders” to rescue from him the political onslaught of his former political allies.
It sets a wrong precedence, the elders’ involvement the business of another co-equal or more powerful legislative body.I believe the Somaliland parliament has rules and procedure to conduct its affairs. The speaker has responsibility to follow, protect and respect those rules and its outcomes, even, if that would mean him losing speakership. Somaliland people expect their legislators to behave like adults and take responsibility for their own actions.
It is in people’s interest for the political process to work, without any interference and arm twisting from outside groups.
Since Mr. Irro started the current “political circus”, in the first place, after he sucked his deputies in a simple majority vote, I do not see why the rules for electing the speakership post should be changed now.
Lately, some Voters are dissatisfied with the way the President is the running the country. President Silanyo has also borrowed a page from Obama playbook: promise anything and everything people desire with no realistic way of paying for it. For example, the president Silanyo and his chief engineer Hirsi recently promised to Somaliland public for the construction of a 350 km long highway , which connecting Burao to Erigavo, without explaining to them how much the project would cost and how the government is going paying for it. Of course, that highway and many other infrastructure developments are desperately needed in Somaliland. I have to say; we do not live in fantasy world where you could spend money that you do not have it.
But the voters who want a new leader to emerge in 2015 presidential election, have serious reservations whether Mr. Irro–who has political aspiration to become the next leader of Somaliland– has what it takes build a coalition to win the election because of his failure to lead the parliament. His parliament has not passed any major legislation for the last nine years, dealing with such important issues: Taxes, land reform, water, security, and foreign policy.
The Speaker is a decent man, who deeply cares about our country; however, he is not ready yet and has no record of legislative accomplishment to lead the country. I would like to challenge Irro supporters, if they could name any major piece of legislation Erro passed for the last decade that benefited the struggling Somalilanders.
Finally, President Silanyo would leave a good legacy for the country, if he should not seek for re-election in 2015, for obvious reasons. Instead, the remaining time of his term in office, he should concentrate more on presiding a smooth and transparent nominating process for selecting Kulmiye’s party candidate for the upcoming presidential election, holding credible elections, without any delaying tactic or term extension, and most importantly, transferring the power peacefully( Often a difficult task for emerging democracies).
Anything less would be a disaster for Somaliland.
Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation, a grass roots organization located in Lewis Center, Ohio, that advocates for the advancement of freedom and democratic values for the indigenous people of the Horn of Africa. He can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.