Hargeisa, Jul 19 2009 (Somalilandpress) — As the calendar for the Somaliland presidential election approached, and as Kulmiye party which lost the last round yearned to go on the top this time, then serious, irreconcilable disagreement emerged, which caused the party to literally break down into pieces.
The event that caused the splinter was disagreement about the process of seating the committee that would nominate the party presidential candidate. Most senior party officials wanted the committee to consist of party activists. The founder and chairman of the party Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo wanted none of that. He handpicked individuals loyal to him as committee members excluding anybody he suspected would oppose his nomination.
Among those who were excluded was Dr. Ahmed Isse, who had declared his desire to be nominated as the party’s candidate. Mr. Silanyo put individuals from the Diaspora loyal to him in charge of running the convention and moved the venue away from Hargeisa to Burao, his home town, where he anticipated minimal opposition and much support. This so rankled rank and file party officials that many decided to abandon the party all together. Among those who left are:
- Engineer Ali Gurey, the second person to join the party
- Dr. Ahmed Isse, former professor at John Hopkins University and external secretary of the party.
- Abdirahman Aw Ali, first vice president of Somaliland and running mate of Mr. Silanyo during the last presidential election.
- Mohamed Hagi Mohamoud, Chairman of the Economy and Budget Subcommittee of the Lower House.
- Osman Hindi, Chairman of Kulmiye Party Office in Hargeisa.
- Ibrahim Degaweyne, Executive Committee member and key SNM leader.
- Issa Oragte, a key SNM leader; and many, many more.
The men listed above have all high recognition names and are role models to their respective constituencies. The party lost influential leaders and their constituencies.
Thus Kulmiye party ended up being a one legged stool. The very dismal response to the call for mass demonstrations at the end of last April by party chairman Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo validates this proposition. No discernible demonstrations took place in Erigavo, Borama and Berbera.
According to one independent journalist about 20 people showed up for the demonstration in Gabille. As for the heavily populated capital city, Hargeisa, it has been said that the number of people who showed up for the demonstration at the party headquarters approximated the size of a crowd that would normally shows up for a wedding occasion. Only in east Burao did a sizable number attend the rally. It is fair to say that the one leg the Kulmiye’s stool has rests on east Burao.
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Outside this narrow sectional base, there are few holdouts, who are still hanging in there with the party in the hope of landing at high political jobs. The few from Awdal had a painful reality check when the entire Awdal delegation in the Upper House voted, without exception, in April 28, 2008, to extend the term of office of the president and vice-president for another six months.
There is no grass roots support for Kulmiye from Awdal because of the history of the opposition party’s anti-Awdal positions and because of the belief by many that the party was responsible for instigating the recent violence and bloodshed between the brotherly peoples near Eil Bardaale, which is a culmination of the party’s continuous and incessant talk of so-called jurisdictional dispute, with the unconscionable expectation that the party would harvest political dividends from the violent clash of brotherly people who live in the area.
The Awdal delegation at the Upper House reflected the strong sentiments of their people when they rejected Kulmiye’s position regarding the extension of the term of office for the incumbent.
The last five years have given us an ample opportunity to observe the performance of President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the activities and decisions of Chairman Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo. We have learned that leadership qualities are not something that is acquired but is a trait an individual is born with.
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We have witnessed that President Dahir Rayale Kahin is blessed with lots of this trait. The party he leads is a big tent filled with members from the eastern, central and western regions of the country. He presides over a country that is peaceful and democratic. He shepherded the unrecognized state into international respectability and put her on the cusp of recognition.
Today, Somaliland high level delegations visiting overseas are accorded by host countries with the same kind of protocol given to that of others. In contrast, Chairman Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo has failed to maintain peace and hold his party together raising questions about his abilities to hold together a whole country peacefully, democratically and win for her recognition when he has already failed the much lesser challenge relating to his party!
Will the voters of Somaliland rehire a reliable and tested leader with a responsible track record or will they take the high risk of hiring some one who is very divisive, dictatorial, erratic and loyal only to a section of society and who has failed to keep his party together?
This is what the voters in Somaliland have to keep in mind when they go to the polls in September 2009.
May God bless Somaliland.
Views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and does not necessarily represent those of the editorial.