In their first press statement since sworn in, the new National Election Commission has announced that the constitutionally mandated presidential elections scheduled for November 13th will be delayed. The Commission stated that elections will be held in nine months starting on October 1st, and cited time, technical and financial constraints as the reason for the delaying.
The selections, confirmation by parliament, and swearing-in of the new National Election Commissioners have dragged on for months and were completed on September 7th, 2022. The previous Election Commission, led by Mr. Abdirashid Riyoraac, dissolved following a dispute among the commissioners and an accusation of corruption that prompted an investigation by the Auditor General’s Office.
The opposition has accused President Bihi of orchestrating the disbandment of the election commission to ensure elections are not held on time. President Bihi has countered the opposition’s accusation that the delay was caused by opposition members of parliament who failed to confirm replacement commissioners.
The opposition parties of Waddani and UCID have welcomed the statement from the Election Commission, although they have in the past opposed presidential term extension and staged protests where at least six civilians were killed and scores injured. It is unclear if the argument of which election, presidential or national political parties, comes first is settled between the President and the leaders of the opposition parties.
President Bihi has argued that the new parties currently amid registration are the only ones eligible to take part in Presidential Elections, whereas the opposition parties have argued that the President is trying to eliminate the current opposition parties and that the presidential elections come first.
Earlier this week, Members of Parliament approved a motion to amend the election laws Number 91/2022 and Number 14. The amendment ratified the combination of presidential and political party elections where the presidential elections will be participated by Waddani, UCID, and the ruling party of Kulmiye and the other parallel election will decide which of the new or existing parties will qualify as a national political party. Somaliland law stipulates that only three political parties can exist for a term of ten years. It is unclear if the Senate and President will approve the proposed amendment to codify it into law.
The National Election Commission’s statement that it cannot hold the presidential elections on November 13th, 2022 paves the way for the Somaliland Senate, which has the constitutional power to extend the presidential term to start deliberation and approve term extension for President Muse Bihi Abdi. In the past, the Senate has ignored the extension period recommended by the Election Commission and has given past Presidents two-year term extensions. This will be the sixth time presidential elections are delayed in Somaliland.
Despite the normalization of election delays and pitched political disputes in election season, Somaliland has earned high praises for its ability to hold one-person, one-vote elections and peaceful transfers of power. It is unclear if the latest delays in presidential elections and continued political jostling will effect in its quest for international recognition.
On December 28, 2018, Turkey named its former Ambassador to Somalia Dr. Olgan Bekar as a Special Envoy for Somalia and Somaliland Talks. Thought the former Ambassador to Somalia has had limited contact with the Government of Somaliland especially President Bihi’s current administration, he known to be very comfortable in navigating the political scene in Mogadishu.
In this report, we are examining Turkey’s history in Somaliland and Somalia and their role as mediators in the past talks.
Turkey is not the only country interested to have Somaliland and Somalia get back to the negotiating table and reach some sort of a settlement.
The topic has come up during President Muse Bihi Abdi’s meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in Addis Ababa this week though it is unclear the extent to which they discussed the subject or if any concrete steps to get the two sides talking were agreed upon.
It is important to understand that various stake holders have different expected outcomes of such talks and Somaliland might be the odd man out as it seeks to gain an amicable completion of its divorce from Somalia.
According to statement from Somaliland Presidency following President Bihi’s meeting with the new envoy Dr. Bekar on February 9, The President informed Dr. Bekar and the Turkish delegation that since past talks has not yielded any results all future dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia must include the international community.
Sources from Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation present in the meeting with the President and the Turkish delegation stated that President Bihi also informed the Turkish envoy that bringing a level of balance in how Turkey invests in Somalia and Somaliland is a good way to show Somaliland that Turkey is impartial and a friend to Somaliland.
To understand if Turkey can be an impartial and an honest broker on Somaliland and Somalia talks and its general standing in the world community, we have spoken to Mr. Michael Rubin who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he researches Arab politics, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran, Iraq, the Kurds, terrorism, and Turkey.
Somaliland Chronicle: Do you think it is wise for Somaliland to accept Turkey as a mediator in Somalia talks given the Turkish Gov support and massive investment in Somalia?
Mr. Rubin: Turkey does not have a track-record as an honest broker, and President Erdoğan has an ideological agenda which does not value Somaliland’s democracy and security. It is crucial to broaden any such mediation beyond a single country.
Somaliland Chronicle: In your latest article you wrote about Turkish support for terrorism and specifically for Al-Shabaab. What is Turkey’s reasoning for supporting Al-Shabaab?
Mr. Rubin: There is no single international definition of terrorism, and so Turkey often says it is combating terrorism, but denies groups like Al-Shabaab in Somalia or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali are terrorists. Erdoğan’s goal is a more Islamist order. His fault, though, is confusing some Islamist movements with Islam itself.
Somaliland Chronicle: President Bihi recently met with a Turkish Envoy in charge of the Somaliland/Somalia talks, do you see any value in having Turkey to mediate or be part of those talks?
Mr. Rubin: Certainly, there is value in consultation with Turkey, as Turkey retains a diplomatic presence in both Somalia and Somaliland. President Bihi is correct, however, to seek a broader mediation rather than reliance on a single country.
As President Bihi informed the Turkish delegation, there is an imbalance in how Turkey provides and and invests in Somaliland and Somalia. Let’s break down what Turkey so far done in is to Somalia:
Turkey in Somalia
Turkey is Somalia’s true patron state, one of its most expensive efforts is to rebuild the Somali National Army from scratch and in its own image.
The largest military force in Somalia is of course AMISOM but Turkey’s military presence dwarfs that of any individual country in the AMISOM troops stationed in Somalia. In fact, Turkey’s largest military installation outside of Turkey is in Mogadishu.
The 1.5 square mile Turkish military training installation is capable of churning out 1,500 fully trained and equipped soldiers at a time. This is according to Turkish and Somali sources familiar with the facility.
Below is a tweet from Turkish Embassy in Somalia showing images of Somali military personnel being trained in Turkey.
While Turkey rates as the 18th largest military in expenditure globally, it has a fledgling arms industry and rebuilding the Somali National Army represents a lucrative opportunity to supply it with the equipment it is manufacturing.
According to a recent VOA report, in what seems to be a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council’s weapons embargo on Somalia, Turkey has been supplying armament to units of the Somali National Army it has been training.
Public records show that Albayrak Group does not have a track record in managing world class ports, besides Mogadishu Port, it also manages and the Trabzon Port in the Black Sea on Turkey’s Northern border with Georgia.
Compared to Albayrak Group and the 2 ports it manages, DP World manages about 77 marine and inland terminals including Somaliland’s Berbera Port.
Other Turkish conglomerates such Enez-İnşaat and Kozuva Group are also active in Mogadishu.
Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle Airport has been managed by a Kozuva subsidiery, Favori Airports LLC,since September 2013.
Here is the Somali Prime Minister Mr. Hassan Khaire thanking Qatar for funding road networks between Mogadishu, Afgoye and Jawhar and also thanking the Turkish Government, presumably Enez-İnşaat who according to him have “won” the contract to build said roads.
Turkey bills itself as Somalia’s rescuer and multiple visits by Erdoğan to Somalia especially in what is considered a relatively difficult time for the Somali people were designed to convey that exact message but economically, Turkey stands to gain more from Somalia and Mogadishu than it lets on.
According to some estimates, the most profitable route in Turkish Airlines is the Mogadishu – Ankara route. And aside from the large visible projects, there are tens of thousands of Turkish citizens living and working in Mogadishu.
Getting involved in one of the least stable country in the world, Turkey is employing the concept of first mover advantage. This means less competition from the Chinese and other actors vying for influence in Africa.
Turkey heavy bet on Somalia and specifically Mogadishu is yielding economic results for Turkey beyond what Erdoğan has expected. In fact, Turkey’s largest embassy in the world is not where you would expect, like Washington DC, Brussels or Berlin, it is in Mogadishu, Somalia.
One of the most attractive features of Turkey’s patronage of Somalia is it is non-interference posture in Somalia’s domestic politics. It is worth nothing that Somalia ranked lowest in global corruption index and any country that is willing to look the other way is a welcome reprieve from the usual admonishment for President Farmajo’s weak administration.
Although this particular instance has been widely publicized by TIKA, Somaliland Chronicle has been unable to locate anything of note done in Somaliland either by Turkish Government or it is aid agency TIKA.
There are, however, multiple unfulfilled pledges by the Turkish Government in the past to help build roads in Somaliland according to multiple former and current Somaliland Government officials. None of these pledges have materialized.
One thing of note is that Turkey has been particularly adept in dangling a carrot of aid and development or simply inviting them to Istanbul on a whirlwind of meetings and tours to get them to buy into the importance of Somaliland and Somalia talks.
No other country has put so much effort to try to mediate Somaliland and Somalia as much as Turkey. In fact, this might be the only thing Turkey has done in Somaliland. There were many rounds of talks that hosted by the Turks in the past and personally supervised by President Erdoğan himself, unfortunately, these talks have been a disaster for Somaliland.
Turkey’s obsession with Somaliland is rooted in the simple fact that the rift between Gulf states of UAE and Saudi Arabia on one side and Qatar, Turkey and Iran on one side has been playing out in Somaliland and Somalia.
The United Arab Emirates base in Berbera and DP World managing the Port gives the UAE and its ally Saudi Arabia an advantage and a foothold in the strategic 850 kilometers of Red Sea coastline with a direct access to Bab Al-mandab.
Turkey and Qatar has been spending heavily in trying to unseat the Emirates from both the military base and the Berbera Port by mobilizing the Somali government to oppose these deals. Additionally, Turkey has been advancing particular talking points that have been seeping into public discourse in Somaliland such as the importance of Somaliland – Somalia talks, the ramifications of hosting a foreign army in Somaliland via the UAE base and the deterioration of service at the Berbera Port. These same exact talking points are parroted by many civil organizations and opposition parties in Somaliland.
Somaliland has repeatedly signaled it’s willingness to talk to Somalia but its demand for the international community including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union to get involved and President Bihi’s impossible task for the Turks to raise their level of support for Somaliland to something comparable to Somalia’s almost guarantees that Turkey’s role will be a lot smaller in future dialogue between the two countries.
The Chairmen of the opposition parties of Waddani and UCID, in a speech, rejected Guurti’s decision to extend President Bihi’s term by two years and stated that they will not recognize President Bihi as a legitimate president when his current term expires on November 13th. Somaliland Guurti has voted yesterday to extend President Muse Bihi Abdi’s term by two years and its own a full term of five years.
Mr. Abdirahman Abdillahi Cirro, the former Chairman of the Waddani party and presidential candidate, called the Guurti’s extension unconstitutional and the country’s established laws and added that the Waddani Party considers the Guurti’s action to extend President Bihi’s term as illegal and unacceptable.
Mr. Cirro accused President Bihi of scuttling all manners of negotiation and has long engaged in a pretext for an extension, such as rejecting the suggestions from independent business leaders to hold the presidential and the party elections at the same time and reiterated that his party will not accept the extension and will not recognize the President and his government as a legitimate. He added that the responsibility for any consequence of the Guurti’s decision rests with President Bihi.
Mr. Cirro concluded his speech with “Today, victory is within reach and we should prepare for presidential elections no matter what it takes. We will ensure free and fair elections take place,”.
Mr. Faysal Ali Warabe, the Chairman of UCID who also spoke at the same event, accused the President of wanting to remain at the helm of the country illegally while lacking the temperament or the discipline to lead and dividing the country and plunging it into political chaos when the world is paying particular attention to Somaliland. Mr. Faysal pointed to the Somaliland Partnership act currently in the US Senate as an example of the United States seeking to form a close partnership with Somaliland.
Mr. Faysal accused the President of spending much of his term on ways to extend his term, and remain in power than serving the public.
Mr. Faysal called the Guurti’s extension of President Bihi’s term unconstitutional as their reasoning for the extension did not basic constitutional requirements and questioned their decision to ignore the nine-month technical extension the Election Commission has announced a few days ago.
In his speech, Mr. Faysal contextualized the difference between the term extension for President Bihi and those for his predecessors and said that there has always been an atmosphere of consensus and that President Bihi has rejected any semblance of compromise. Much like Mr. Cirro of Waddani, he stated they will not accept the extension and will not recognize the President and his government as legitimate after the current legal term expires on November 13th, 2022.
Efforts to reach opposition party representatives for clarification and comment were unsuccessful. Somaliland government and ruling party spokes person did not comment on the opposition leaders to not recognize the President and his government after November 13th.
In a close session, the Somaliland Guurti led by Chairman Suleiman Mohamoud Adan has voted to extend President Muse Bihi Abdi’s presidential term by two years and has given itself a five-year mandate extension. Very little detail has emerged on today’s session and if there was any deliberation on the two extensions approved by the Senate.
The Guurti’s action to extend President Bihi’s term follows the announcement from the National Election Commission that the constitutionally mandated presidential elections will not be held on November 13th due to technical issues and that they will need nine months to prepare for presidential elections. It is unclear why the Guurti has ignored the recommendation of the Election Commission and extended the President’s term by two full years. This is the sixth time Somaliland Guurti has extended presidential term.
Political dispute centered on which election, the presidential or national political parties, comes first has been ongoing in Somaliland for at least a year. Opposition parties, the President and his ruling party have been trading blame on the exact cause of the election delays.
So far there has been no statement from the opposition parties of Waddani and UCID on the two year term extension for President Bihi and it is unclear if any other consensus has been reached.
In a ceremony attended by government officials and representatives from AECF, the Ministries of Energy, Investment and Interior have unveiled a program funded by SIDA, the Swedish government’s aid agency through a private venture called AECF.
According to press statement from AECF, the REACT Sub Saharan Africa is a renewable energy program is “aimed to bring the benefits of clean energy to off-grid, low-income households. By de-risking unique business models, it supports the private sector to innovate and invest in diverse technologies. The programme supports investees in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Somalia.”
Further explanation of the REACT SSA program states that the Swedish government has committed US$33.58 million out of which 8.5 million is for Somaliland and Somalia. The program
It is unclear what companies in Somaliland have been selected in receiving ranging from US$100,000 and US$1.5 million of pure grants.
Although this program does not specifically target bringing down high cost of electricity in Somaliland and despite millions of dollars from various donors, Somaliland’s electricity remains very expensive stifling small scale industries and energy-dependent businesses.
Minister of Transportation and Communications
Republic of China (Taiwan)
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) develops common regulations and standards for civil aviation. Countries around the world abide by ICAO’s directives to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation. The 41st session of the triennial ICAO Assembly, to be held between September 27 and October 7 this year in Montreal, Canada, will be ICAO’s biggest event since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Thus, the meeting will be symbolic for supporting the recovery of the aviation sector. It further showcases the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders in the international aviation community. We call on ICAO to reconnect with Taiwan in a collective effort to achieve the goal of a seamless sky.
Reconnecting the world and facilitating Taiwan’s technical participation
ICAO, an important forum spurring the development of aviation, is where civil aviation authorities discuss issues such as aviation safety, air navigation services, aviation security, environmental protection, and aviation economics. All of these bear on the development of each country’s civil aviation sector. As the global aviation industry has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, collaboration among all stakeholders in support of passenger health and safe travel is more important than ever. No civil aviation authority should be excluded. ICAO will hold the 41st Assembly session with the stated goal of “reconnecting the world.” Including Taiwan would help the world meet this aim.
Taiwan’s Taipei Flight Information Region (Taipei FIR) is part of ICAO’s network of over 300 FIRs. The Civil Aeronautics Administration of Taiwan (Taiwan CAA) is the sole entity overseeing, and is responsible for safe air traffic management throughout, the Taipei FIR. It offers a comprehensive range of information services and streamlines air routes to ensure the safety and efficiency of all aircraft and passengers arriving in, departing, and transiting the Taipei FIR. The Taipei FIR’s efforts have been hampered by the recent actions of China. In August 2022, China unilaterally conducted military exercises around Taiwan on short notice. This affected international air routes and jeopardized aviation safety in the Taipei FIR and neighboring FIRs. In an effort to avert danger and alleviate safety concerns, the Taiwan CAA had to hastily plan for and guide aircraft, including many foreign aircraft, departing, arriving in, or transiting the Taipei FIR. The situation burdened airlines with additional costs due to their need to take longer and more expensive journeys and substantially increased unforeseen risk. From both a risk and safety management perspective, ICAO should allow the Taiwan CAA to participate in ICAO so that it is able to communicate with other FIRs and provide and obtain timely information via ICAO.
Sharing Taiwan’s aviation experiences to achieve the ICAO goal of seamless aviation
Despite the severe effect the pandemic has had on the world over the past two years, the Taiwan CAA has made every effort to maintain the strong safety record of the Taipei FIR while diligently adhering to relevant antipandemic measures and complying with ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices. With a joint effort by civil aviation stakeholders and the government, Taiwan’s national carriers have been among the few airlines around the world to have remained profitable and not cut jobs. In addition, according to Airports Council International statistics for 2020 and 2021, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan’s largest, was the fourth-busiest airport in the world for international air cargo.
Technological advances have caused unprecedented development and changes in aviation. Drones are one such example. As the wider use of drones poses a potential risk to aviation safety and airport operations, ICAO has been revising or adopting provisions in related guidance materials regarding unmanned aircraft systems. Despite a lack of access to ICAO information, the Taiwan CAA has established relevant management mechanisms in a timely manner so as to maintain aviation safety within the Taipei FIR while also helping spur the development of drone-related industries. A dedicated chapter on drones in Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Act came into force on March 31, 2020. A web-based application system called the Drone Operations Management Information System went online at the same time. Furthermore, to maintain the safe operation of airports and detect illegal drone activity, the Taiwan CAA set up drone defense systems at various airports. The Taiwan CAA has also begun planning a next-generation air traffic control automation system to ensure its air traffic management system meets the future operational needs of the Taipei FIR. The aim of this is to contribute to greater regional and global navigation efficiency. Taiwan is willing to share its aviation experiences with other countries and hopes to learn about theirs to improve aviation safety.
Urging the international community to support Taiwan’s participation in ICAO
Taiwan’s call to be included in ICAO has been increasingly recognized by the international community. As an important stakeholder in the international aviation community, Taiwan takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard aviation safety. Participation in ICAO would allow Taiwan, together with all other countries, to contribute to the further development of global aviation and the well-being of all humankind.
For many years, the Taiwan CAA has maintained the highest standards of service and safety for the Taipei FIR. It has also worked hard to comply with ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices. ICAO chose the theme “reconnecting the world” for this year’s Assembly to promote a global aviation recovery. Now is the time for ICAO to reconnect with Taiwan. To further contribute to international civil aviation, the Taiwan CAA aspires to share its professional experiences and to participate in ICAO’s 41st Assembly meaningfully and professionally so as to help the world meet the ICAO goal of a seamless network for aviation safety.
On July 29th, the Chairman of the Central Bank of Somaliland Mr. Ali Abdilahi Dahir, posted on social media that he has received an Honorable Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership (PhD) after attending an Dubai Leadership Conference 2022 organized by Masterminds Business School in coordination UAE University and European Digital University. Mr. Dahir stated that the doctorate was awarded following an exhaustive review of his educational and professional experience.
The Central Bank has also congratulated Mr. Dahir on his achievement of being conferred a doctorate, addressed the Governor as a Doctor in their congratulatory press release, and followed up with a lavish welcome party upon his return, complete with a new plaque to celebrate the Chairman’s new status as a doctor.
According to the brochure of the event held in Dubai by Masterminds Business School, the conference outline includes topics such as wealth creation, how to build a million-dollar company, social media, digital marketing for executives and CEOs, and blockchain among others but all indications are that this is nothing more than an ordinary seminar with a tinge of Tony Robbin’s wildly popular motivational seminars with a twist of conferring honorary degrees to those who have purchased the 3,500 US dollar VIP ticket to the event.
Honorary degrees are an old tradition where prestigious and ordinary academic institutions have granted them to individuals they deemed worthy for various reasons, including athletes, celebrities and at times generous wealthy benefactors since the middle ages. However, it is important to note that these types of symbolic degrees do not entitle the recipients to use the title of doctor or claim to hold the actual degree.
In the case of Mr. Dahir Abdillahi Ali, the Chairman of the Central Bank of Somaliland, his honorary doctorate, which for some reason he opted to call “honorable doctorate” instead of honorary is granted European Digital University which is registered in the state of Delaware and shares domicile with a construction material supplier. In addition, aside from conferring honorary degrees on people from mostly third world countries, there is no indication that the University is engaged in any educational or academic activities of any sort. In addition, there is no indication that the European Digital University is accredited in the state of Delaware or any any other state.
European Digital University is founded by Professor Sidhic A Muhammed who happens to be one of the faculty of Masterminds Business School.
Although other entities such as the UAE University were mentioned by Mr. Dahir and the Central Bank to have taken part in the vetting of his academic and professional background and conferment of his doctorate degree, besides few photos where the founder of European Digital University is at a podium with the logo of various universities, we were unable to ascertain of an actual relationship between European Digital University, the Master Minds Business School and the UAE University.
Another school that is mentioned in the literature of Master Minds Business School and Digital University is the University of Dubai, a rather prestigious school in the Emirates and despite the use of its logo in their promotional material, neither entity is listed on the university’s partner institutions.
Although many academic institutions award credits for work and life experience, it is unusual that someone is awarded a degree let alone a doctorate on those basis. It is unclear if the Central Bank Governor confused the two and assumed that he has genuinely earned a doctorate.
Mr. Dahir, who was appointed as the Governor of Somaliland Central Bank in September 2021, has faced an uphill battle in his parliamentary confirmation as he lacked banking experience as required by Central Bank Law No. 54/2012. Before his appointment to the Central Bank, he served as the Director General of the Ministry of Technology and Telecommunications Dr. Abdiweli Soufi Abdillahi, who holds a doctorate in technology from the Open University of Sudan.
The Governor of Central Bank did not respond to questions about his honorary degree, the European Digital University and if he plans to use the Doctor title and if the expenses were charged to the taxpayers.
Constitutional acts, relevant terms and charters have repeatedly been used and abused since Somaliland voted for her constitution in 2001. The rule of law had always been a tool for the conflicting interests of the previous and incumbent administrations to disavow all the opposing factors. Human rights and freedom of speech were in the spotlight of every aspirant while on his course to the presidency but ended up a spot of the campaign rhetoric in the past. House of elders, the representatives and the supreme constitutional court have competing shares in plunging every political dispute into a juridical and legislative quagmire. While surviving the squalid living conditions they’ve been through for more than 31 years, people still lack the unity to confront all the power abusers in one voice. Unless the division of the people based on the clan lines by which the so-called politicians often use to manipulate them hadn’t been in place, they would’ve collectively taken the streets in one voice like what happened in Sri Lanka recently. The current crisis could lead this unrecognized nation to an unknown future, as the staggering unemployment rates, economic stagflations and skyrocketing cost of living among the ordinary people are the correct benchmarks for Somaliland being a fragile state. These facts would challenge all the dummy mantras used by those in power like they’re the ultimate saviors of the country’s peace and stability. And finally, Mr. Faysal Ali Warabe’s bombastic rhetoric and Abdirahman Mohamed Irro’s emotion-free words are now a good blend of fine energy to lead their supporters.
Somaliland needs urgent political solutions to sustain her stability.
Why electoral disputes are recurrent
Disputes related to constitutional elections were not born with the current administration only but had happened during the terms of the previous administrations too. No president or elected body, such as (the two houses of the parliament and the local councils) has ever left their offices on time at the expiry of their term(s). This culture of extension has always been a huge setback and the epicentre of the country’s repetitive political stalemates, the reason of which was attributed to the ineffectiveness of the institutions of the checks and balances, as they fall under the influence of the sitting administration at the time. Every president, while taking the oath, reiterates how he was adamant about upholding the rule of law, preserving timely elections, respecting freedom of expression, the prevalence of justice for all and compassing the nation around the world for getting the long-awaited recognition. The incumbent president, Musa Bihi Abdi, was the last to promise to hold a timely presidential election during his campaign trail to the presidency. After the successful parliamentary and local-council joint elections in May 2021, there was a quadrilateral meeting between the International Partners (Somaliland democratization supporters), the two chairmen of the opposition parties, the Somaliland National Electoral Commission NEC, and a delegation representing the Somaliland government in Nairobi, Kenya. The key agenda of such meeting was about sharing ideas on the recent development of Somaliland democratization process, requesting financial support for the upcoming presidential elections by the International Partners, assurances by the opposition parties on their commitments and readiness for the 13 Nov 2022 presidential elections and last but not the least the Electoral Commission’s preparedness and challenges for holding and administering free and fair presidential elections. Nevertheless, achieving those commitments seems to be invisible, if not impossible, due to the presidential election timetable, which is due on 13 Nov this year. The irony is Somaliland’s democratic vehicle is on the same pathways again, taking a U-turn back to the starting line of extensions and overstays.
Why such a swift U-tern?
The long gossip in the Somaliland political spheres has finally been an open secret owing to the president’s recent midnight televised speech after the 11 Aug pro-democracy strikes by the opposition supporters that have engulfed all the Somaliland regions. In my readings, the president was emotionally broken from presumably what appears to be the outcome of miscalculated maneuverings resulted in an enormous challenge shown by the opposition supporters vis-à-vis the impotence of the reliance on the different security forces who have failed to disburse the crowds whilst they have disproportionally used force, teargas and live ammunitions for the unarmed people, killed at least five protesters and wounded dozens across the country. The government cut all the internet services across the country in what many people, mainly opposition supporters, see as a sinister agenda perpetrated for the concealment of any potential casualty(s) or damage(s) inflicted on the people whatsoever, several amateur video clips, vlogs and other images widely shared on the social media after the internet service(s) resumptions, exposed young plain-clothed officers armed with handguns in a white left side rear door window broken SUV Toyota land cruiser deliberately killed and abandoned a young unarmed teenager in one of the city’s residential neighborhoods, an absolutely deplorable action expressly depicting the level of enmity some officers in the government have their own people. Several key members of the opposition parties were taken into police custody in the early hours of the demonstration in an attempt to intimidate or derail the demonstrators. According to the opposition parties, the strikes were licensed, all those killed or wounded were within the earmarked square kilometers, and none was out of it. Though irreparable damage happened during the protests, the opposition parties vow the continuations of similar protests until, according to them, the government returns to the democratic bath. Freedom of Public Demonstration and Expression of Opinion is a right of every citizen enshrined in the constitution (article 32). However, the government has their version of neutralizing this act with claims that Somaliland citizens lack all moral ethics to peaceful demonstrations and might trigger looting or damage of public and private properties, a claim denied by the protesters as there was no recorded theft or looting(s) what so ever.
On 16 Nov 2021, Somaliland’s main opposition party Wadani triggered a new paradigm shift in Somaliland’s long preserved political party ownership status and considered Mr. Hirsi Haji Ali to be the party’s talisman. Mr. Hirsi Haji Ali was elected the chairman of Somaliland’s main opposition party Wadani with an overwhelming majority. Although mixed reactions to this move by the people, many politicians and political analysts in Somaliland have welcomed and commended the former party Chairman (the current presidential hopeful), Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed Abdillahi Irro, for this unprecedented move, a move that has immediately changed the compass of the incumbent president’s political outlook.
Hirsi Haji Ali, the new chairman of the main opposition party Wadani and a former key member of the conservative party Kulmiye, was the elephant in the room for the president’s bid to take the whole country’s political will round in circles achieving no tangible milestones and turned a deafening ear towards any potential efforts from within trying to seek rapprochements between the government and the opposition parties. This is why many politicians and legal professionals see a manmade process entanglement intentionally engineered by the president, such as the dismissal and the replacement of the National Electoral Commission NEC. The million-dollar question is, why is the new Wadani chairman Mr. Hirsi Haji Ali, the real pain-in-ass for the president? What makes him have the same weight as the country’s whole political muscle?
Broken promises deplete humanity and are the worst for someone who leads a nation, but it has become a norm among Somaliland politicians. Somaliland’s electoral process was a fundamental stone for its progressive democratization. Her historic free and fair elections, like the three presidential elections held in Apr 2003, Jun 2010 and Nov 2017, coupled with the two parliamentary elections held in Dec 2002, Nov 2012 and May 2021, were what make Somaliland unique in a region marred by constant electoral disputes which sometimes result in bloodshed and arbitrary political incarcerations.
There are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests. I don’t entertain this, as it is an intellectually vacuous phrase in politics and among the politicians; it works fine in Somaliland too. It’s a theory notoriously intellectualized and philosophized by the common person with no basic understanding of this dirty business (politics). No politics or politician would ever come to fruition while morality and ethical principles are totally absent. See how those in the world of real politics behave in contrast to this illusive political narrative. No enemies and no friends in Somaliland politics motivated president Musa Bihi to immediately disown many of his key politicians in the same conservative party (Kulmiye), who were the driving forces behind his campaign for the presidency. Many of the key aspirants of the newly registered political associations were among those made pariahs by President Bihi’s and even lost their party’s membership rights. Some new registered political union aspirants seem to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. They are getting even worse as they’ve been lobotomized by the reality on the ground and freely slipped into the muscle power politics of president Bihi. In contrast, the rest seem to be Trojan horses in the delegitimizing bid of the two opposition parties whose licenses expire on 26 Dec 2022.
Political settlement is the only way forward.
Staggering unemployment rates, economic stagflations and the skyrocketing cost of living among the ordinary people are the correct benchmarks for Somaliland being a security risk. Due to the absence of seasonal rainfalls, rampant droughts have caused an untimely rural exodus to the big cities as the draughts decimated thousands of their livestock possessions. April 2022, When central market conflagration, which destroyed USD billions worth of assets of mainly private sector businesses, was another addition to the economic pinch of the country. Due to the above facts, all the political stakeholders must act out of their egos and return to the round table to score a winning goal for the nation. As many legal professionals and Somaliland political experts believe, a viable political settlement based on a win-win solution could be a breakthrough out of this impasse. Somaliland being a fragile state, any failure to bring about an urgent solution to this political standoff might plunge the nation into a yawning hell.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. Khadar researches and critically writes about the rapidly shifting geopolitical, social, and economic landscape pertaining to the Horn of Africa. He is based in Doha Qatar. He can be reached E mail: khadarhanan[@]yahoo.com or on Twitter @khadarhanan
According to sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who did not want to be identified, a delegation of former high-ranking United States Government officials is due to arrive in Somaliland as early as tomorrow.
The delegation includes Mr. Tibor Nagy, a seasoned diplomat and the former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Trump, Ambassador J. Peter Pham, the former United States Special Envoy for the Sahel Region, and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General William “Kip” Ward the former Commander of U.S. Africa Command and Mr. Joshua Meservey, Africa/Middle East policy specialist at the Heritage Foundation.
Members of the delegation with the exception of General Ward are staunch supporters of the Republic of Somaliland and have urged the US government to form a closer partnership with Somaliland. No other details were provided on the delegations itinerary and length of stay.
This is a developing story and we will update as we know more.
The United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently led a congressional delegation to Taiwan to show America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy as the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy.
China announced to conduct the live-fire drill between 4th to 7th August around Taiwan after Pelosi and the congressional delegation left Taiwan. The G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, reaffirmed their joint commitment to maintaining the rules-based international order, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen accordingly addressed the people of Taiwan emphasizing that peace in the Taiwan Strait is the shared responsibility of every country in the region and that Taiwan is doing its utmost to uphold the cross-strait status quo and remains open to constructive dialogue. President Tsai also called on the international community to support democratic Taiwan to jointly safeguard the values of freedom and democracy, to maintain the rules-based international order, and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
As a responsible stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan is committed to maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. In the face of the escalating military threat we face, Taiwan will continue to safeguard our sovereignty and security and we therefore call on the international community to rally support for democratic Taiwan to preserve our shared values, to maintain the rules-based international order, and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific together.
By Amb. Allen C. LOU, Taiwan Representative Office in the Republic of Somaliland
The People’s Republic of China is throwing a tantrum and is threatening the people of Taiwan and the stability of the Taiwan Strait simply because Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has visited Taipei. Unfortunately, this is nothing new and is reminiscent of the same tantrum and coercive behavior that China exhibited when Taiwan and Somaliland built their diplomatic ties.
In 2022 when the dawn of authoritarianism is setting around the globe, and the threats and use of force have not worked out for Russia against Ukraine, it is unfortunate that China is once again resorting to threats against the peace-loving and democratic nation of Taiwan. China’s habit of defaulting to the use of force, economic coercion, and brinksmanship should not be appeased but universally condemned.
Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was not only historic, but has shown us the courage that many leaders around the globe should emulate and choose to stand on the right side of history against authoritarianism and those who want to impose their unwanted will on others.
The people of Somaliland, a nation born out of the ashes of freedom from unimaginable tyranny, should stand with the democratic and peace-loving nation of Taiwan, and as the G7 Foreign Ministers have called for, force and coercion are not the answer; instead, dialogue and peaceful resolution should be the only avenue to resolve issues.