19 May 2007 04:27

SOMALIA WATCH

 
Column
  • Title: [SW Column](SOMALILAND FORUM) Is Mr. Hassan's Election as "President" Catering to Mr. Guelleh's Needs or Somalia's Interests?
  • Posted by/on:[AAJ][1 Sept 2000]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.


                   PRESS RELEASE, Monday August 28th, 2000            Ref. SF/EC-019-2000

Is Mr. Hassan's Election as "President" Catering to Mr. Guelleh's Needs or Somalia's Interests?

SOMALILAND FORUM   

 

 After months of coerced pushing and manipulation, the so-called Somalia peace conference is all but concluded with the election of Abdulqasim Salad Hassan, Barre's former interior minister, as president on Friday August 25, 2000.

To the international observers, who have witnessed the acute lack of a state for Somalia proper for a decade, the President of Djibouti seems to have cleaned the Augean stables of Somalia and done the impossible: produce a government for Somalia, something, which the UN, the OAU and 12 previous Somalia conferences failed to do. In theory, therefore, Mr. Guelleh appears to have produced a miracle. But is this really the miracle? We, the citizens of the republic of Somaliland---a country that withdrew from its union with Somalia in 1991, have repeatedly stated our wish to see a government established for Somalia. Our executive government, the Government of Somaliland, as well as our two parliamentary houses have also done the same. But we do not see or think that Mr. Guelleh has produced a miracle for Somalia. On the contrary, he has, by prodding and doggedly pursuing his own agenda, which is to come to the UN's millennium meeting in September with the new "Somalian president" on his side, fell far short of creating a meaningful system for the poor Somali people of the South. Instead, he came up with a myopic exit strategy for his five-month long Arta conference that threatens not only to engulf his own country in war but also has a strong tendency of instigating a new round of fresh violence in the entire Horn of Africa. Due to this impending calamity in the Somali-speaking region of the Horn, we hereby urge the international community and all peace-loving nations not to endorse Mr. Guelleh's formula for Somalia, as it will lead to new civil wars in the whole region.

At the heart of the Arta conference was a gathering of personalities whose names read like a who's who of dictator Siad Barre's government --- the very same people who plunged the old Somalia into the war and chaos from which the world has ever since been trying to save it. The chair of the conference was none other than a trusted friend of Gen. Barre, Mr. Hassan Abshir, and a man who started his career as an aide de camp to Gen. Barre. In short, Mr. Abshir was a privy member of the inner circles of the Barre dictatorship. The conferees also include countless Barre cronies and army officers who are war criminals such as Gen. Ganni, known as the first Butcher of Hargeisa. Surprisingly, this criminal was at some point named as the chair of the disarmament committee and is now a full member of this fictitious parliament. It is evident then that the people who have been gathering in Djibouti are not those members of the so-called Somali civil society that Mr. Guelleh was floating around in the early days of the conference.

This gathering of dubious personalities and tourists from the Diaspora has now reportedly elected a parliament and a president in exile that again reads like a who's who of the personalities from the Siad Barre government and includes several war criminals such as Generals Ganni and Morgan. These two notorious war criminals, whose pogroms were extermination campaigns against the people of Somaliland in the1980s, are today at the forefront of Somalia's politics, according to Mr. Guelleh's vision for Somalia!   The world must react to Mr. Guelleh's disregard for the violation of the International Laws relating to war criminals. "Regardless of how long it may take for the people of Somaliland, these two criminal thugs will, one day, be brought to justice", said Amina-Malko, the Chair of the Somaliland Forum. "They can run, but they cannot hide from justice as the popular expression has it," she added.

In short, the so-called "Djibouti conference" was an unrepresentative venue that produced nothing more than an unrepresentative, made-in-Djibouti parliament for Somalia, that reportedly elected the "president" that Mr. Guelleh would wish to take to the UN's millennium conference in New York in September, exactly as Mr. Guelleh had planned before. But the question is: Since, the so-called parliament has elected Abdulqasim alad Hassan as their president, a former cabinet minister under dictator Barre's Draconian regime of 21 years, would this parliament and the president it has elected lead Somalia to peace?

We do not think so, and the logical reasons are many. First, the conference in Djibouti did not discuss any meaningful ways and means to end the Somalia conflict such as the disengagement of militias on the ground and the reconciliation of the different communities and regions. In fact, this conference was not a conflict resolution conference or a peace-making conference at all: there has not been any armistice established between the various contestants and the parties involved in the conflict in Somalia proper. For example, there are militias that are facing each other in several theatres of war, inside Somalia, at this very moment, such as Belet Wein, Kismayo, Jowhar and several other areas. No agreements have been drawn to disengage these warring armies. There has not been agreements on the return of occupied lands and stolen properties either. Nor had any plans been formed to create war crimes tribunal to serve justice and put a closure to a painful era.

In fact, nothing of substance has been discussed in this conference. What is the point then of setting up a government for Somalia in Djibouti and asking for the international community to recognise it? Is this government going to serve Somalia? No. It is not going to serve the interests of Somalia, but it is rather going to serve the political and economic interests of President Omar Guelleh. One may well ask, how? Well, it is going to serve him in two fundamental but important ways:

1) First, Guelleh intends to use this made-in-Djibouti government as a tool to dismember and destroy Somaliland, the peaceful country to his west that has presumably been drawing commerce away from his city-state of Djibouti. Mr. Guelleh hopes to use this government to legitimatise an economic and trade embargo on Somaliland, as well as to foster violence within Somaliland.

The people of Somaliland have worked hard at reconstructing their country after its destruction by the Somalia regime of Siad Barre. And as a result, they have already established good governance and democracy for themselves, after having stood back from the union with Somalia proper in 1991. Thus, so much of the world is now poised to recognise their progress and achievements.

But the so-called Somali peace conference at Arta, Djibouti, has, in its first sitting, set a tone of violence and war-mongering against the republic of Somaliland. Such declarations as the intangibility of Somalia's frontiers, though no one has threatened Somalia's colonial borders, are clear signs of what is to come from this conference. These types of declarations are also beside the point for two reasons:   a) Somaliland supports the intangibility of borders in Africa as inherited from colonial powers and as is enshrined in the OAU charter; and b) Somaliland's own territorial boundaries are colonial in origin and were inherited from the ex-British Somaliland Protectorate.

2) Secondly, Mr. Guelleh stands to gain political and economic advantage from his conference by appearing to be the statesman who has achieved what the UN has not been able to achieve in Somalia in ten years. Additionally, the proceedings at Arta had also for Mr. Guelleh the benefit of turning the limelight away from his domestic civil unrest and the plight of the Afar people of Djibouti.

As much as Mr. Guelleh would like the world to believe that he is engaged in Somalia out of the milk of human kindness, these are some of the bare facts about this conference which speak for themselves. And these selected few facts show Mr. Guelleh's true political colours in this whole exercise. He is nothing but another ruthless dictator who leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of his single-minded political objectives like his personal friend and mentor, the late Gen. Siad Barre of Somalia. Regrettably, however, Mr. Guelleh's current objectives spell a disaster for the whole of the Horn of Africa. Another war will soon erupt in the Somali-speaking region of the Horn, if the world community does not stop Mr. Guelleh's misguided actions toward the people of the former Somali Republic. We, therefore, urge the international community to carefully read the signs of impending disaster coming from Arta and react to Mr. Guelleh's schemes in appropriate ways before it is too late.

The Somaliland Forum 


[Column]

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