(Somalilandpress)-The recent visit of the Ethiopian delegation to Hargeisa, Somaliland capital, may be disguised as a routine diplomatic tour to strengthen the relationship between Somaliland and Ethiopia, but the rosy pictures painted by Hargeisa could be misleading. In fact the visit could be the prelude for a devastating political storm gathering momentum in Somaliland.
We are now learning that the Ethiopian delegation led by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu arrived Hargeisa to mediate the Somaliland government and the opposition parties’ political gridlock created by the upcoming presidential election’s possible fiascos. But the truth is: many Somalilanders are sceptical about Ethiopia’s involvement in their internal affairs. But never before have foreigners attempted to mediate Somaliland’s quarrelling groups.
After Ethiopia pulverized Somalia to dust in 2006-2008 and launched a brutal campaign of terror against the Somalis in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia, hardly anyone in Somaliland or Somalia receives Ethiopia’s crocodile tears for Somalia or “good-will” towards Somaliland as an honest gesture. Both Somaliland opposition party leaders bitterly protested against Ethiopia’s atrocities in Somalia. Ever since then, Ethiopia viewed Somaliland opposition parties as hostile.
Yet another reason that Ethiopia is not keen on the idea of Somaliland opposition parties winning election is: if either Somaliland opposition party leaders Mohammed Ahmed Silanyo or Faysal Ali Warabe win the election, the winner would put lots of weight on resolving Somalia’s crises which held Somaliland hostage for almost two decades. This is something the current Somaliland regime is reluctant to do.
However, through the eyes of the Ethiopian rulers, having a lasting peace in Somalia is not in the best interest of Ethiopia, despite its shrill about insecurity in Somalia.
On the other hand, surely, Somaliland people are not hostile towards Ethiopia and wish to have business relationships with Ethiopia’s landlocked population, but Somalilanders don’t appreciate Ethiopia poking its nose into their affairs, nor do they trust it. That is a fact.
Many Somalilanders are now convinced that the Ethiopian delegation delivered a message from the Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi to Somaliland President, Dahir Riyale Kahin. That is, Mr. Zenawi using his experience of how he crushed the Ethiopian opposition groups during the 2005 election disputes promised Mr. Kahin that Ethiopia would send troops to Somaliland to quell any upraising against Mr. Kahin’s government if election violence erupts.
Also, Mr. Zenawi may have assured Mr. Kahin no matter how much he [Mr. Kahin] rigs the election, or how many times he postpones it, the International community can do very little. Take Ethiopia and Kenya’s election scandals as an example. Not surprisingly, I warned about Ethiopia’s meddling into Somaliland’s affairs a year ago.
Last year, in January, I wrote a piece entitled, “Somaliland: A Democratic State In East Africa Or A Tinderbox Waiting To Explode?” In this article I predicted that a failed election will lead to a failed state. See this link: http://www.somalilandtimes.net/sl/2008/312/78.shtml As I have mentioned in the article, Ethiopia will be a major player in Somaliland’s election scandals. And the game just began. See also: Somaliland regime “Hostages to Peace” documentry by Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org/en/node/84296/section/9
The truth is Somaliland faces formidable challenges: for one thing, unresolved internal tribal feuds in the Gibbilley region and Alshabaab terrorists bent to bomb polling stations in September 27, 2009 presidential elections remain an impending disaster. For another, election scandals and foreign interventions lurk around the corner. (See articles about tribal feuds and Alshabaab terrorists:
http://somalilandpress.com/7172/somaliland-elections-formidable-challenges-terrorism-tribalism/ and http://www.awdalnews.com/wmview.php?ArtID=12037 )
In short, the elections and politicians will come and go, but violence ensued election disputes will linger for years, create tribal animosity, and set the clock back. That is why we have to understand what is at stake: it not just the “election” or “Mr. Kahin, Mr. Silanyo or Mr. Warabe” that will suffer but the entire nation could crumple faster than a block of ice melts in a harsh desert.
We all must be vigilant and not fall into the diabolical tribes of tribal feuds, Alshabaab terrorists, and Ethiopia’s crocodile tears.
The opposition parties must outsmart the current Somaliland regime to rescue our nation from falling into a dark abyss.
As for the ruling party, just revisit our dark history; if any junta leader could rule Somaliland with iron fist, Gen. Mohammed Siad Barre, the former Somali regime president from 1969 to 1990, would not have died in exile. That is Mr. Kahin, his vice president Mr. Ahmed Yassin, and the rest of their cliques must not repeat our ugly history.