HARGEISA, 3 February 2010 (Somalilandpress) – 2010, without doubt, is one of the most crucial year for Somaliland and its people. It is a year of hope and dreams and a year to take the deserved opportunity to reflect upon a near decade of peace and political and social stability as well as growth. It is also the year that all of this could be lost if the Somaliland’s infant democracy is not protected from key internal and external threats.
The external threats are difficult to address as they come in the form of threats of terrorist acts at the hands of the lunatic, murderous, thugs who claim to represent Islam in Somalia and who go by the name of Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. However, there is a more deadly and equally disastrous threat closer to home as the Somaliland elections near.
Both of the opposition parties in Somaliland have been working their way around the globe raising awareness of the many key social issues Somaliland faces and has faced under the current UDUB administration lead by President Dahir Kahin Rayale.
At their conferences in Bristol, UK, held a week apart, both UCID and Kulmiye representatives informed the public audience that Somaliland was facing constitutional crisis as it was been lead by a leader without a legitimate political mandate. They also informed the public that UDUB and its leader had subjected the citizens of the nation to neglect and Human Rights violations through the abuse of the privileges of political office.
Faisal Ali Warabe expressed his disgust at what he saw as abuse of political office and the lack of progress after all these years of UDUB rule. The Kulmiye deputy chairman argued that, unlike the late president Egal who Rayale was brought in to replace, President Rayale is an untrustworthy, cold hearted leader who is out of touch with public opinion and the needs of the public at home.
Both of the opposition parties also made it clear that President Dahir Rayale was deeply unpopular and was delaying the elections because he realises that he will lose the election with a massive landslide. The public were finally going to show their anger and frustration with his mismanagement and poor leadership. However, the opposition parties inevitably disagreed on who should replace him and his “deeply unpopular” political party.
Both the opposition parties, to a hail of claps and audience enthusiasm fuelled by a nationalistic song, brought forward a case for why they would be best to replace UDUB and President Rayale. As if using the services of the same speech writer and enlisting the services of similar Think Tanks, they both promised better free education and healthcare for all, better roads, better protection of individual human rights and better governance. Both promised to be the government that Somaliland yearns for to take it forward to recognition and greater national and international success.
Although not an UDUB supporter, one was not impressed by the opposition party’s policies and ideas. Where to some they sounded radical and new, most of their policy pledges were just that and no more as everything promised by both parties were unlikely to be delivered by any Somaliland administration at present or in the near future as a result of a lack of funding, expertise and international recognition. What struck one most was the naivety of the opposition’s leadership who were under the honest impression that if President Rayale is beaten at the general election than Somaliland’s key social and political issues will be automatically resolved. As if, he was the centre of all their policies, undermining President Rayale’s government monopolised both of the opposition Party’s major conferences in the UK. This was a very poor political tactic as the touring executive members of the opposition Parties were made up of some of President Rayale’s former UDUB colleagues who abandoned him for the opposition just before what they perceive to be an election he and his UDUB party will lose. Like rats deserting a sinking ship in the middle of the night, these former UDUB members buried any real chance of taking the opposition seriously as on the one hand both political Parties are working tirelessly to distance themselves from UDUB and its leader whilst at the same time offering political refuge to the careers of failed former UDUB party dissidents.
[ad#Google Adsense (336×280)]
What were made crystal clear from the Somaliland opposition Parties main European conferences are that not only are all their aims similar but that there is absolutely no way one could ideologically differentiate between them. Are they Socialists? Liberals? Conservatives? Do they know what these are? Do they care? Have they considered whether their goals are also the goals of the current government? I doubt it very much. What I suspect is that these politicians are fighting over the purse strings of the people of Somaliland and have very little Political convictions or direction. Even worst, it is arguable to suggest for some of the members of the opposition’s delegation, ego, recognition and career advancement are the root of their desire for power. Far from convincing their audiences in the UK that they are the best Political Party to represent Somaliland and take it forward after the next general election, what the opposition Parties illustrated was why they were only fit for opposition government.
The Rayale administration has many flaws and many mistakes had been made by key members within the governing group during their time in office. However, what cannot be faulted is President Rayale’s success in maintaining law and order, peace and the respect he commands abroad as an agreeable, approachable national leader. The character of a nation’s leader is fundamental to its every aspiration as the leader is the international symbol of the nation and whereas President Rayale is patient, approachable, internationally well liked and agreeable, his counterparts in the opposition camp have proven themselves to be anything but any of these. Silanyo is hot tempered, impulsive and heavily relies on his “father of the nation” delusion as a result of been a key member of the SNM in the war against Siad Barre. Whilst no one is denying that he did play a part in Somaliland’s defence against the rogue army of Siad Barre, the fact is so did many others who are quietly getting on with their lives without forcing the general public to be grateful for their efforts.
Silanyo worryingly demonstrates some dictatorial characteristics as the majority of his argument for political office is based on his misguided belief that because he was a key member of the SNM in their struggle against Siad Barre, he should be a leader of Somaliland as a right and a reward. Unlike Silanyo, Faisal Ali Warabe is charming, warm and truly nationalistic but the key hurdle he faces is his relatively younger age, his lack of political experience and a UCID party membership that is relatively weak and not well established when compared to the other opposition Parties. And oh, of course, a member or two who openly admit to lying to the public when they were members of the UDUB governments executive before joining UCID for whatever reason they claim.
The voting public in Somaliland should not, like the opposition Parties would wish, turn the upcoming general election, whenever it may be called, into a referendum on President Rayale. The fact is that there is very little choice between all the main political Parties and most of the idle promises made by the opposition will not materialise due to lack of funding, expertise and national recognition. Whilst change is good, a change for the better is much more beneficial in the long term and this is what is needed most desperately in Somaliland. By simply changing governments and installing a different leader nothing will change. However, if there was to be a change of government style as oppose to government than perhaps there would be greater chance for change and progress. As a result of a lack of ideological divide between the main political Parties, there is a need for national unity and strategy for development and this will only occur if there is a coalition government made up of all the political talents in Somaliland regardless of which Party they may represent.
Coalition government is ideal in that it will bring international support, aid and even make the case for independence stronger to the wider international community. More importantly, the formation of a coalition government will inspire confidence in the political process globally as it will show that the politicians are mature enough to put petty Party politics aside for the pursuit of the greater good of their electorates.
As much as one wishes for it, I doubt a unity government will materialise because this would require the politicians to work in the PUBLIC interest and realise that Somaliland is bigger than any individual or government. The people’s needs are real and what is at stake is more than just a general election but the future direction of nearly four million people. The Opposition Parties have made a case for better government time and time again but with a similar message and the same weak leadership as last time they lost the election to the current administration lead by President Rayale, it is doubtful they will offer any real alternative to President Rayale and his UDUB government.
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial