The former Mayor of Hargeisa Mr. Abdirahman Mahmoud Aideed SOLTELCOLCO has approved dozens of public land plots for private individuals during and after the mayoral race that concluded on May 31st, 2021. This is according to multiple sources privy to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sources add that ex-mayor SOLTELCO is planning to hand over millions of dollars worth of debt to the incoming Mayor Mr. Abdikarim Ahmed Moge.

Although the number of land plots and the size of the debt are not fully clear yet, some sources have indicated that the number of plots of land approved for transfer to private hands by ex-mayor SOLTELCO could be as high as 54 blocks or 540 plots of land and the debt could be in the millions.

After the election and prior to Mr. Moge taking the office, a renewed land grab has been reported in Hargeisa and its vicinity.

Mr. Jama Haji Ahmed Abdi, the Governor of the Marodijeh region who spoke of the ongoing land grab, has warned the outgoing local council members and stated that authorities halted several construction sites spending an investigation. It is unclear if the plots he mentioned include the dozens of blocks approved by ex-mayor SOLTELCO. The Governor did not say if any legal actions to prevent the land grab were underway.

There is no indication that Mayor Moge and his predecessor have discussed the land transfer and the debt and if President Bihi is aware of these issues. President Bihi was instrumental in Mr. Moge’s effort to avoid a protracted race among elected council members for mayor.

It is also unclear if these issues were discussed in Mayor Moge and ex-mayor SOLTELCO’s latest meeting with the Minister of Interior Hon. Mohamed Kahin and Somaliland Chief of Police Brigadier General Mohamed Adan Saqadhi Mohamoud (Dabagale). The boilerplate statement from the Ministry of Interior did not state the purpose of the meeting. The Ministry of Interior has a major oversight role in Somaliland local municipalities.

The newly elected Mayor of Hargeisa, Mr. Abdikarim Ahmed Moge’s position on public lands transfer to private individuals by ex-mayor SOLTELCO during and after the elections and, the debt is unknown. Sources close to him say that he is likely to contest and may ask for an audit to understand the size of the debt, its holders, and other relevant information to find out its legitimacy.

In the last several years, the Hargeisa Local Municipality has been audited just once by the Auditor General’s office of Somaliland. The outcome of its audit was not made public. Corruption has been pervasive in many parts of the Somaliland government, particularly local municipalities whose jurisdiction includes public lands. Skyrocketing prices have made land the most valuable commodity in Somaliland.

Our efforts to reach the newly elected mayor of Hargeisa Mr. Abdikarim Ahmed Moge and his predecessor Mr. Abdirahman Mahmoud Aideed SOLTELCO for comments were unsuccessful.

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