HARGEISA, 23 November 2009 (Somalilandpress) – I have just read the Press Release issued by Congressman Donald Payne entitled “Somalia: Abusive Behavior in Puntland” dated 21 November 2009, in which Congressman Payne roundly berates the government of Puntland for their treatment of ONLF prisoners in their custody.

This is the same Congressman Payne who, as Chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee on Africa, reacted with a fit of pique and an intemperate outburst threatening dire consequences in response to Somaliland’s legitimate decision not to testify before his Subcommittee as part of a panel including representatives from the TFG of Sheikh Sharif and the current Puntland administration. In the event, the TFG chose to send the Consul in Washington instead of the Foreign Minister, and Congressman had to make do with only Puntland sending a senior official, its President-Mr. Farole, to the hearings of his Subcommittee last June.

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Congressman Payne’s tone in the said Press Release merits some comment, since it clearly illustrates his outlook and perception in his handling of matters to do with Somalia and, dare one say, Africa in general. Mr. Payne states in the release that “…I called the President of Puntland to discuss my concerns [regarding the treatment of the ONLF prisoners] and strongly urged him to release them without delay.” Upon not getting his way, Payne concludes thus, “I strongly condemn this abusive and dictatorial behaviour and demand the immediate release of the prisoners…Failure to act quickly on this matter will have serious consequences.” [my emphasis]

Congressman Payne clearly believes that he has the right, the authority and the power to demand immediate, total and unquestioning compliance by Somali authorities to bend to his will. I make no comment regarding the matter of the ONLF prisoners in Puntland, since the focus of this missive is the unparalleled arrogance and effrontery of Mr. Payne. He is acting like a martinet of the colonial era, rather than a seasoned politician with experience of international politics and the nuanced etiquette of cross-cultural diplomacy. Indeed, one would expect that a seasoned African-American politician with experience of the civil rights era, would exhibit a more thoughtful approach in his dealings with African political leaders and peoples, than the neo-colonial ‘gun-boat diplomacy’ mentality evident in his above mentioned Press Release.

It is clear that Congressman Payne will get nowhere fast until he invests some time and effort in researching the history, cultures and politics of the peoples and regions his Subcommittee is charged to work with on behalf of the US Congress. It would also greatly help his effectiveness if he learns a modicum of manners and humility in dealing with the leaders of these regions and peoples.

Ahmed M.I. Egal


  1. As long as Mr. Payne relays on the advises of some individuals who are acting as an expert on anything that is Africa without, the input of the African who still live in the continent themselves, he will never advance true peace and reconciliations that his office pretend to champion for.

  2. Congratulations to Mr. Donald Payne for speaking the truth! Puntland State needs to know they are doing wrong. How can you hand over your own brother to enemy hands? Somaliland and Puntland should both be ashamed.

  3. I agree with you, Mr. Egal, that Mr. Donald Payne is jumping the gun without further research or consultations with the leaders of the countries in questions on issues he wants to address. Colonial mentality never changes and those African-Americans behave like their masters or even worse when they come into a position of power. Well written reaction. Good job, Egal.

  4. This seems to be the reality when ever we hear our african leaders saying " we had talked with USA and EU" I am guessing this is the tone used. So, say welcome to the reality that we are all colonized by USA and EU 😀

  5. Payne spoke the truth because he only said puntland government should stop mistreatment and release ONLF prisoners.(can any body deny this is a reality-puntland government does this gross human rights abuse) and can we condone this in this era?-No!,they should be rebuked and actions be taken against,i mean he puntland government or any one else doing such attrocities.if the the somali land administration is doing the same,actions should be similar.
    But again i pity the untland admnstration as they are captives in their own way since they are doing this to ONLF in order to appease their 'masters'-which is the ethiopian governemnt,since if they do not do what they are ordereed by ethiopia,they will in bad books with ethiopia which is their master.

  6. Payne is absolutely a human rights defender! As for Mr Ahmed Igal NOTES,i wonder what point you are trying to make as reading your articles left me confused than understood anything from it-i mean what is wrong with rebuking puntland for abuses against human rihgts they arevdoing to ONLF persons.(payne only did this).iam sure payne would do the same if a somaliland person is abused by any body including puntland or TFG or whao so ever.so shut up or you fear the next to be rebuked by payne will somaliland as their is reports that they are also involcved in similar acts.

  7. Congressman Payne is learning through the hard way! When he gets there, the damages resulted from his trial and error approach are already done and time to reverse them is up. Another golden opportunity from outside world is- yet -missed again.

  8. I think the good Congressman was ill-advised by people who acted in conflict of interest. Mr. Ted Dagne an Eriterian was among those, Any body who is caught in the United States with material inciting violance against its citizens who would be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Why wouldn't Puntland authority deal harshly any planning evil against its territory. I was personaly shocked undiplomatic threat made bay the the congressman.

  9. Why do we Somalis introduce petty clan politics into every issue that we discuss ?
    I think Mr/ Egal's article was dignified and to the point. But then, most of those who commented fell into that ugly trap of clan politics. Mr. Egal's letter was not about Puntland or any other land, for that matter, but it merely focussed on Congressman Payne and the way he was handling sensitive African issues without much regard to culture or diplomatic etiquette.