By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – In an exclusive interview, H.E Amb Bashe Awil Omar, Somaliland’s newly appointed Representative to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) candidly speaks to the Somalilandsun about his personal life, challenges of being son in law to the Somaliland first family and his new duties and diplomatic posting..
During this interesting and captivating interview, the first since his appointment to a public office, Amb. Bashe Awil Omar who is a petro-chemist turned politician said that he married his spouse and daughter of president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo 20 years ago, hence a long time before his father-in law’s Presidency in Somaliland thus effectively negating misconceptions about his appointment being courtesy from his father-in-law.
Below are the verbatim excerpts of the Interview:
Somalilandsun: Excellency, thank you for accepting our request for an interview and taking time off from your important and busy schedules in which you also agreed to speak candidly and without reservations
Amb Bashe Awil: It is indeed a pleasure for me not only to have your media house interview me but for you, a site dedicated to Somaliland especially its advancement through perfect portrayal internationally, being the first to interview me since my appointment as the first Somaliland Representative in the United Arab Emirates.
Q: To begin with, can you kindly brief us on your personal life as it relates to marital status, education and work experience?
A: I was born in in 1972 in Hargeisa where my father worked as a senior official with the central bank. I am married and blessed with 3 children, two daughters and a son. My eldest is aged 18 and the youngest 7 years. I began my schooling in Mogadishu where my family moved to following my father’s transferred to the Somalia Central Bank headquarters. I undertook my primary schooling at Sheikh Madar School before proceeding for my Level studies at the Casa Di’Populare School both in the Hodan district of Mogadishu.
Ten days following the infamous Jazeera massacre of northerners by the regime of dictator Siad Barre, and the increasing persecution by the regime, my family flew initially to India where we were on transit and ultimately settled in the United Kingdom where I joined the Hackney College in East London for my “Ä” levels . After excelling in Sciences in my A’ level examinations, I was admitted at the University college, London where I studied Chemistry and obtained my first B.Sc. degree.
Upon my B.Sc. graduation, I got a scholarship to Manchester University where I graduated with an MSc in Chemistry and to tell you the truth political life at that time was never part of my plans.
Upon my M.Sc. I was employed as a lab analyst for eight months by one of the biggest sugar companies in the UK (Tate and Lyle) before proceeding to the State of California in the USA as a research scientist for a scientific instrument company where I served for Eight years both in the USA and later in the UK.
Q: When did you join politics since you are no longer active in your career of training?
A: While I was in California and around 2002, I got involved with mobilising for the then just launched Kulmiye, political party in which my father in law and current President of Somaliland, H.E Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo was founder and chairperson.
In 2011, I resigned from my job and relocated together with my family to Nairobi Kenya where my children went to School , while I pursued interest in international business which also afforded me the opportunity to engage in my political trajectory in support of the Kulmiye Party, which was then dominant official opposition in Somaliland.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, if I may ask, Do you think you are qualified for your newly appointed duties as the Somaliland diplomatic representative in the United Arab Emirates?
A: What exactly do you mean by qualified?
Q: As in relation to your education, experience, skills and political acumen?
And inside deep within yourself do you have confidence thus feel capable?
A: Definitely Yes, If I did not believe am capable, I would not have taken up the job at all. During my past employment I had the opportunity to handle portfolios that entailed interacting with diverse global institutions both private and public that gave me a reasonable feel of diplomacy which is increasingly becoming characterized by economic and commercial interests hence the focus of the new global order is economic & commercial diplomacy, Thus, with this background that I am confident and abundantly hopeful, I have the necessary education and experience to handle the challenges of my appointment and posting as a key diplomat in a strategic country.
Obviously, the lack of international recognition remains a critical challenge not just to me in my new posting but to all our able diplomats across the spectrum. But I am seized with with this and other challenges and my work is clearly cut out for me in my role to project and promote Somaliland’s interests in the UAE and to strengthen, deepen and expand the existing cordial relations between my host country and Somaliland.
I am therefore qualified, competent, and eligible as a citizen and professional to be appointed to this position regardless of my other coincidental circumstances arising from my marriage status within the first family.
Q: How difficult is it in Somaliland to be the son-in-law of the President?
A: Very Interesting question, Actually it has many challenges thus not many people know about me personally being neither a government official or such which has resulted in me being an easy pick solely on the basis of my being the son in law to the first family. And though I was married to the daughter of Silanyo 20 years ago, out of love at that and long before my father in law became president. It is unfortunate that some people choose to view others, as in my case, from the prism of whose daughter I am married to. Whilst I must admit that the undue and un-necessary attention this attracts discomforts me, I understand that sometimes we have, I guess to live with this and move on and to focus on what is more important in our lives ..
Q: Being very intimately aware of status within the first family, what is your take on the oft repeated rumour that president Silanyo is not in control of ongoings within his administration?
A: This is an absurdity mostly from naïve politicians. If H.E the President, if is not in charge as alleged, then who is? Personally am surprised that this notion is entertained, considering the achievements made in all spheres of socio-economic and political development by the administration in the five years under the leadership of president Silanyo
While there isn’t a measurement apparatus that can be used to ascertain the exact achievements of the Kulmiye party under H.E President Silanyo led administration in terms of its election manifesto, I believe 85% has been attained.
Whilst it is not in order to discuss the physical health or fitness of any individual, much less a leader and Head of State, but because, you have raised this as a consequence in your question, I would like to categorically state without any fear of contradiction, that the President is as it as a fiddle not withstanding his age and the toll that political fatigue has on its players of many decades. You saw him am sure swim long distances at Batalale beach, and his frequent road travels across the length and breadth of the country on very rough terrain.
Away from the physical drills, you have seen the significant achievements in education both in terms quality and quantity of students and teaching staff in addition to the introduction of free primary education. In addition, when he took over, there were around 50 water boreholes in the country owned by the public ,to date there are over 150 distributed equitably in all corners of the country, what of Maternal and Child health Centers , the same case of increment thus availing citizens ease of medical attention.
What of the road network in the country, obviously on the blind has failed to notice the improvements mostly asphalt all over the country but more so the now ongoing construction of the 370 kms Erigavo- Burao road to link Sanaag region to the rest of the country soon.
Who can justify these gigantic achievements by an administration whose elected chief Executive is not in control , in the contrary this has been possible because of the tight ship that President Silanyo Captains and being one who delegates to his appointed officials which to the naïve may be construed as being absent from the driver’s seat.
I could go on and on, but in the interest of time, let me stop here.
Somalilandsun- Thank you very much, Ambassador Bashe Awil Omar, for your time and candid thoughts
Amb Bashe: You are welcome Its been my pleasure talking to you.
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