Somalilandsun – For the first time in the past ten years, the parliament unanimously rejected a motion to hand over the Gasoline Storage Depot in Berbera to private individuals.
The motion was introduced by the Presidential Cabinet, which have a history of privatizing important national property to close partners. Somalilanders hailed their support to the parliament on their courageous decision to reject this recent move by the Cabinet.
Presidential Palace minister Mr. Hirsi once said, ” we tabled more than 45 bills or legislations to the parliament, and none of them had been rejected or scrutinized by them”. Considering this, it is probably a shock to the presidential palace to hear the parliament decision over this motion.
Going forward though it is not clear how party lineage works in the Somaliland parliament. The ruling party (Kulmiye) claims that it has the majority of the house. In others words, it was not an issue for them to introduce any unpopular or politically motivated project in the parliament and get it passed.
Fast forward, it was also reported that the president of Somaliland rejected the elected parliament’s decision and sent a letter to them asking to vote in favour of the motion. He is literally asking them to hand over national assets to few individuals who have strong connections to the president’s inner circle. Though it wasn’t a surprise to see such unlawful actions in this part of the world, it is hard to swallow even in Somaliland’s standards.
In addition, it was also reported that government officials and their go-between individuals with cash have been busy visiting some of the MPs’ houses last two nights in order to influence them over their side by rewarding them financially. Though, it is not the first time for this government to start buying Members of Parliament openly with taxpayers’ money and meager financial aid donated by the international community, it is the most awkward one.
In any case, the ball is now on the parliament’s court. And, it remains to be seen, whether or not its members act as true parliamentarians who are accountable to the public, defend the dignity of the institution for the sake of history, and for the sake of their nation, or fall into the usual traps which has been driven by personal greed and the get-rich mentality.
Clearly, this is the last chance for this parliament to restore some form of public trust and take a stand on certain issues, or go down into the history as the political demagogues who exploit the weaknesses and clan naivety of their people. The jury is out and history will be the judge.
Ali Jama (Toronto).