Aug 03(Somalilandpress)- This young country has seen difficult times in the past but there is nothing like the arcane situation that it suddenly found itself in the weeks leading up to the elections. With the presidential elections already delayed twice and so much at stake with regards to the stability and the international stance of this country, we are suddenly sliding down to an abyss and the options are running out.
It was recently that a friend of mine had the privilege of taking part of a conference held in Cardiff last week by the ethnic groups living in Wales (UK) and among the dignitaries was David Miliband, the UK Foreign Secretary who was asked a question about the UK aid to Somaliland. Intriguingly he did not give much detail other than the 40% & 50% ratio for Somaliland and Somalia respectively but he went straight to the current issue of upcoming elections. He said ‘the presidential elections have been delayed several times in the past two years and now it looks as though it is going to be delayed yet again by the mismanagement of the government’. This is just an indicative of how the international community is concerned about the direction that the country is heading to despite its historical successes in democracy and rule of law.
In its short history since reclaiming its independence Somaliland has prided itself of working democracy albeit in its infancy but in a troubled region. It has come from a long way of establishing of a ratified constitution, a rule of law and government institutions who are representative for its people. It is a model that impressed and won many friends in Africa and elsewhere.
Unfortunately this success story is now being put at risk by an incompetent president and his lousy government who is showing a complete disregard to the interest of this nation. The history will write about Riyale and his tenure but more importantly he has the choice today to either let things take its course without becoming a hindrance himself or bring about destruction to the things that has been built over the decades.
The elections are now only few weeks away but everyday comes with ever more depressing news and the new events that are unravelling. The late announcement by the NEC (National Electoral Commission) to go ahead with the elections without registered ballot system was the most disappointing of all. And to make matters worst the government decided to expel the representatives of Interpeace from the country, after all they were there since 2004.
As it became apparent there was no consultation with the other national parties such as Kulmiye and UCID whose members are in the NEC. This exposes the division among the NEC and how the government is playing with the very division among them.
Now both the Houses of Parliament and Ghuurti have expressed their joint concern over the decisions taken by the NEC and the government’s handing of expelling Interpeace. This is a commendable act from the two highest institutions in the country and despite the view of some handful members (Haji Abdi Waraabe etc) the great majority of the people are with the view taken by the Leaders of the two Houses.
There is no doubt that we are heading to an uncharted territory and to very troubling times of uncertainty and continuing disillusionment over the government’s mismanagement of the upcoming elections. Aside from the elections it is worth noting that the Ceelbardaale fiasco can transpire itself a challenge to our security and stability and in many ways we are where we are on this issue because of an incompetent president who does not want to resolve the issue. If he does as some people would say, there was a clear verdict reached by the Select Members from the Ghuurti House, which was endorsed by him at the first place.
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It is about time that the breadth and the depth of this nation’s leaders and intellectuals come together for one single joint purpose. That is safeguarding the national interest of this nation in terms of its security, stability and rule of law. The incumbent leader cares less about this and that is evident of his recent conduct in pre election decisions of the disqualification of the voter ballot registration system and the failures in the Ceelbardaale resolution. No wonder his family are now in Europe for possible political asylum after securing Djiboutian passport. But perhaps what he does not know is that the world has changed since Charles Taylor, Mabuto Sessiko et al.
It was Winston Churchill’s quote that ‘if we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find we have lost the future’. We are running of time and options so it is about time that the two Houses draw up a contingency plan for salvaging this nation.
1. The elections are looming and the president knows he has lost the trust of his people and he is ready to do his way at all costs. So for the sake of our national interest the two Houses need to develop a fallback strategy that they can nominate a caretaker president, after all the extended his tenure a couple of times before. Constitutionally this should not be a difficult task to convince the nation.
2. The disbandment of the current NEC members especially its leader who has also lost the trust of his people and national parties alike.
3. The appointment of new NEC members whose skills and experience are the basis of their selection.
4. Setting up a new timetable for a free and fair election through voter ballot registration method and inviting the European as well as the US to help the logistics and its prep work.
Unfortunately this is the only way we can move forward and turn the page of tit-for-tat politics between an increasingly authoritarian style of Riyaale government and the political parties who are being pushed to the limit. Please rise up to the challenge and think what you can do for your country, you know that your country needs you today.
Author: Ahmed Nur Amin
Cardiff, Wales (UK)