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Somaliland president will “take care of” former SNM commrades

Posted by Admin on July 30, 2010

Source (garoweonline)Commenting on the clan make-up of the Somaliland cabinet appointed by the new president, Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud  (aka Siiilaanyo), the  Somali journalist Bashir Sheikh Omar Goth  told the VOA Somali Service that less than 30% of the new cabinet “belong to non-Isaaq clans” who  did not support the  now-defunct Somali National Movement (SNM), one of the clan-based opposition groups that failed to form a national  government after the overthrow of the military dictatorship in 1991. Is it too early to mark Siilaanyo down for the cabinet he put together one day after he was sworn in as the fourth president of Somaliland?

Three main  ministries — Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and  Ministry of Finance—  are headed  by men from the same clan  but under president  Dahir Riyale Kahin the three ministries were headed by three men from the same clan.  During the elections campaign, president Siilaanyo vowed his party, Kulmiye, would appoint ministers on the basis of competence not on the basis of clan representation. Given the fact perception is as important in politics as is reality, why did president Siilaanyo appoint 20 ministers of which more than 14 of them belong to the same social group as his?  Is Somaliland president’s job to please clans or to appoint ministers because of their integrity and proven track record of public service? Those are two relevant questions for the following reasons:

1-Siilaanyo was the leader of the Somali National Movement, a clan-based opposition group that , like other Somali  armed opposition groups  in 1980s, was keen on replacing  the military dictatorship with a clan-based government.  There are Somali clans who despised the dictatorship but were put off by the clan exclusivity of armed opposition groups.  History proved them right because triumphant opposition groups divided Somalia into clan fiefdoms.

2- One of the enduring narratives on which the case for Somaliland secession is based is the human rights violations that the military dictatorship perpetrated against the clan that supported the Somali National Movement. In his first speech president Siilaanyo pledged to take care of  Mujahids (mujaahidiinta) ,former SNM members.  Somaliland and  Al Shabab- controlled parts of southern Somalia are  where  the word mujahid ( someone who waged a jihad )  is used: in the case of Somaliland it is used for  the living former SNM. In Al Shabab-controlled areas, Mujahid is used for those who wage war against the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

3- The post-1991 civil war in Somaliland was between those who wanted the  mujahid narrative to retain supremacy   and those who envisioned strategies  to help Somaliland avoid the fate of southern Somalia where armed opposition groups turned  guns on each other .   It was the late Mohamed H. I. Egal, the second president   of Somaliland, who envisioned the demobilisation of the SNM and the setting up of government institutions. SNM mujahids violently opposed president Egal’s demobilisation plan.

There is a bright spot in president Siilaanyo’s speech: the decision to abolish the security committees. President Siilaanyo said: “I have pardoned all political prisoners who were sentenced to jail by security committees.” (“Dhammaan muwaadiniinta u xidhan waji siyaasadeed oo  ay guddiyada nabadgelyadu xukuntay waan cafiyey…”)  What is missing in president Siilaanyo’s speech is commitment to overhauling the Somaliland judiciary because he is of the opinion that security committees set up by his predecessor’s administration   usurped the role of judiciary.

Liban Ahmad

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