Friday, July 2, 2010

Somaliland elects “Siilanyo” to be new president

Dear Colleagues

I am so pleased to see this ... an election in the Horn of Africa with both politicians and people well served by the process. The text of the IRIN article is copied at the end of my comments and the URL is:

The leader of the Kulmiye political party, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, better known as Silaanyo, was declared Somaliland President on 1 July. What are the lessons to be learned from the Somaliland experience?

I did work in the Horn of Africa over a number of years, including seeing something of the emergence of Somaliland as a peaceful place. Somaliland is excluded from most international interaction because it declared independence from the war-torn Somalia and set up its own well functioning administration ... but the declaration of independence has not been internationally recognized.

Maybe this is a good thing. The international official development assistance (ODA) community does not finance Somaliland and therefore the ODA experts do not interfere very much in decision making. A big part of the money Somaliland gets from overseas are from the international Somali diaspora ... and this has worked well for the country.

But the big lesson I learned is that the Somali's have a very long history and culture that can be the foundation of quite good modern governance when their traditional laws and practices are modernized in an appropriate way. The people of Somaliland have done this ... and done it very well.

To develop their new constitution there was a very long traditional meeting to talk about the issues ... everyone getting to have their say ... over a period of around nine months. The journalists went home after a few days! In the end there was a consensus about what they should do, and it has worked very well for a good number of years. In comparison to Somalia, the Somaliland experience is amazing ... and I am proud to have been associated with it in a very very modest way!

Note that the new President elect served as an opposition member in the Cabinet of President Egal for about 10 years. How many countries in the world ... let alone Africa ... have opposition party members in the Cabinet? This was possible because of the long process of dialog that there was in Somaliland when they were organizing themselves as an independent country, and this was specifically made possible so that "opposition" is not excluded. I would say that this is a brilliant idea!

I hope and pray that the peace of Somaliland will endure ... and wonder why it is that the war-torn Somalia has never moved towards peace in a similar way. What is it that is going wrong in Somalia and for so long? My takeaway from the experience in Somaliland is that it is not the Somali people that are the root cause of the problem ... but more some issues with leadership and other geo-political matters that are being injected into the country. More on that another time ... maybe!

Peter Burgess
SOMALIA: New Somaliland president sets sights on corruption

HARGEISA, 2 July 2010 (IRIN) - Opposition leader Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Siilanyo” of the Peace, Unity and Development Party (Kulmiye), has been elected president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, after he won just under 50 percent of votes cast on 26 June, in the first democratic handover in the Horn of Africa. He will be inaugurated next month.

Initially a senior minister in former Somalia President Siyad Barre's government in the 1980s, Mohamoud quit to join the then armed opposition Somali National Movement (SNM), eventually becoming its leader. After Somaliland's declaration of independence in 1991, Mohamoud held various senior ministerial positions until 2001 when he resigned from the government of the late President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal.

Mohamoud formed Kulmiye in 2002 and contested the 2003 presidential elections but lost by only 80 votes to Dahir Riyale Kalin, who won around 33 percent of the last ballot.

He spoke to IRIN a few days before the election, when he said he was “very optimistic” of victory.

Q: What is your priority should you win?

A: Well, in our programme, there are a large number of issues we need to handle but I would say, first of all, we would put together a lean government with limited ministerial posts, which will also be very effective, I hope. Secondly, I will abolish emergency laws, which are unconstitutional and which have sent so many people to prison. I will release all prisoners not sentenced by a court of law, except those accused of terrorism and theft.

[According to a July 2009 report by Human Rights Watch, a key component of the criminal justice system consists of unconstitutional “security committees [which] sentence and imprison Somalilanders, including people accused of common crimes and juveniles, without any pretence of due process. They regularly sentence defendants en masse on the basis of little or no evidence after truncated hearings in which the accused are given no right to speak."]

My cabinet will be much smaller than the current one. We will also make sure that the judiciary is independent. We will also deal with the problems in Sool and Sanag East [disputed territory regions] to create peace and stability. We also aim to boost our relations with neighbouring countries to strengthen the fight against terrorism and piracy.

Photo: Jane Some/IRIN
A campaign poster for Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Siilanyo), the newly elected President of Somaliland Q: What are you going to do about corruption in Somaliland?

A: That is one of our highest priorities; it is one of the main problems in this country. We will fight corruption and will deal with corrupt people and show them no mercy whatsoever. We will reform the judicial system and will introduce measures to punish corrupt people in an appropriate manner. We will set up an anti-corruption commission.

Q: Somalia has been in crisis for more than two decades now. Do you have any ideas or suggestions how this crisis could be resolved?

A: Well, in terms of Somalia, first of all, we wish our brothers [in south-central Somalia] every success in achieving peace and stability because that affects us as well. We are saddened by what is happening to the people of Somalia. We have thousands of refugees here. We are going to give full support to the position of the international community to bring peace back to Somalia. We are going to support the position taken by the UN and other international organizations to restore stability and peace to Somalia. We are going to be part of the world and we are going to play a very [key] role, I hope. We will definitely study which way we can help directly, without comprising our independence.

Q: There are thousands of people from south-central Somalia, displaced by the conflict there, who have sought refuge in Somaliland. Should you win, do you have a programme for them?

A: These people, who are refugees from Somalia [and] whom the international community regards as internally displaced, have been warmly welcomed here. They are our brothers and sisters. There is a very large number of people from Somalia in Somaliland at present and many of them are not in camps. They are with us; they are part of the population and they will continue to be our guests and we will ask the international community to do whatever they can for them. Also, we are going to ensure their safety. Their presence will be one of the major issues we will deal with, Inshallah [God-willing].

Q: The number of youth leaving Somaliland to seek opportunities elsewhere, often undertaking dangerous boat journeys, is increasing. Would your government have a specific programme for them?

A: It is a major problem facing the country... In our programme we have very clearly stated that we are going to create all the incentives possible to discourage young people from throwing themselves in the sea and going abroad. We are going to create a normal life for them in their own country, by creating jobs for them, facilitate education for them and encourage them to stay in the country and believe in their own country and its stability. We will encourage investment in the country to create more employment and also create confidence in the country and its youth.


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