Monday, September 28, 2009



By Dalmar Kaahin
Somaliland Times
September 26 2009

Almost a decade ago, in 2002 after President Ibrahim Mohammed Egal passed away, many political analysts predicted that no way will Somaliland honor its constitution and sworn the vice president Dahir Riyale Kahin in as the third president without bloodshed. Never! It was unthinkable for such a smooth transition to unfold, at least not in corrupted Africa and, of course, not in war-ravaged Somaliland.

He didn’t stand a chance against the contenders from the dominant tribe. For one thing, he hails from one of the smaller tribes. For another, his lack of education and leadership skills posed a formidable challenge for him. However, his painless transition to lead vulnerable and fragile Somaliland surprised the critics and shook the deep-seeded tribal doctrine that blurred our vision for centuries (even the educated elite are not immune to tribalism).

Not only was the transition smooth, but also Mr. Kahin was elected in 2003. In other words, Mr. Kahin was the first Somaliland president who won free, fair, and transparent election, despite the election fiasco of 2003.

Because of his laconic speech, no one predicted that the silent President Dahir Riyale Kahin will become a small bone stuck in Somaliland’s throat seven years later. Now critics argue: by the ballet or the bullet Mr. Kahin will neither relinquish nor compromise power. But overwhelmingly, Somalilanders want change—a new robust government with a charismatic leader (one that isn’t born yet). So they demand: Mr. Kahin to either bow out gracefully or take a hike disgracefully.

History will judge Mr. Kahin from different angels and for different reasons. His legacy could either send Somaliland to an abyss, or lead it to recognition. Many of us who supported him initially—including me—are now chagrined by his dirty, manipulative, and selfish politics.

From a smooth transition to a painful eviction from office, Mr. Kahin perhaps asks himself: should I be a ruthless dictator who pulverizes Somaliland to dust, or a memorable leader who takes the high road at the height of Somaliland’s political crossroad? But is he as villain as portrayed?

Despite the unwavering opposition to Mr. Kahin’s regime few doubt some of his notable achievements. Neither the first Somaliland president Abdirahman Ahmed Ali (Tuur), nor its second one Ibrahim Mohammed Igal governed the country completely. Both presidents established the foundation of Somaliland. However, the internal security of the county and its armed forces were in shambles during Somaliland’s first and second president’s era. People carried guns on the streets at will. Tribal skirmishing was common.

On the other hand, today Mr. Kahin is in charge of the entire country with the exception of few remote small towns and villages. Additionally, from coast to coast, Somaliland is secure. Somaliland security and armed forces are some of the most disciplined forces in Africa. And despite Somaliland coast guards' meagre budget, they have successfully repelled Somali pirates trespassing into Somaliland’s territorial waters.

To top it up, if Mr. Kahin doesn’t send Somaliland down the drain, he will be remembered as the president who humiliated Somaliland adversaries in the battle fields. Repeatedly, from 2004 to 2007 his forces launched aggressive and impressive pre-emptive strikes against both terrorists and invading Puntland militias. Somaliland adversaries were rounded up like wild horses.

In fact, because Mr. Kahin continuously trained and equipped his forces, Puntland could not keep up with him. In essence, his military build-up coupled with his painstaking diplomacy towards Sool region’s conflict bankrupted Puntland administration. Similarly, in a conventional warfare, Somaliland forces could annihilate Alshabaab terrorists swiftly and devastatingly. Today, Mr. Kahin’s forces patrol far more territory than anyone ever imagined.

These are the undeniable achievements of Mr. Kahin. But his opponents argue what he has accomplished is trivial compare to what the country has lost since he took office. His downside is not limited to unabated human rights violation, corruption, and looting public funds. Read Somaliland regime: "Hostages to Peace" documentary by Human Rights Watch.

Economically, the country went downhill during Mr. Kahin’s term. But is he alone in this flagrant self-enriching scheme?

Of course not! He may take all the blame, but some of the notorious gangs in his junta regime—the most loathed cliques—include the Minster of Finance Hussein Ali Duale (Awil)—the man behind the scene, the Interior Minster Abdillahi Ismail (Irro), the Public Works Minister Saeed Sulub, and some of the ruling party UDUB members. Some members even carry guns in the parliament and don’t hesitate to draw their weapons, if need be.

At least one gun-totting MP—the UDUB gunman—didn’t conceal his intension to use it during a heated parliamentarian debate last month. Equally, Mr. Kahin’s inept vice president Mr. Ahmed Yusuf Yasin, a religious man by name but a scandalous politician by nature, is guilty of the current crises. Just like Mr. Kahin, Mr. Yasin hardly has any education never mind leadership skills.

Mr. Kahin, once fairly a popular president, his public support vanished years ago. Hardly anyone else except his three zealot ministers and incompetent vice president defend the president. And their best line of defence is: anyone who criticizes Mr. Kahin has something against his tribe—a cheap shot indeed.

Shockingly, the opposition parties KULMIYE and UCID leaders, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Sillanyo and Mr. Faysal Ali Warabe are equally threat to Somaliland as much as the ruling party is a menace to society. In reality, their lack of unified front against UDUB party transformed Mr. Kahin from a comprising leader to an autocrat and risked Somaliland’s existence. Mr. Sillanyo and Mr. Warabe demonstrated their infectiveness as an opposition leaders; one wonders about their performances as presidents.

And there isn’t a shred of evidence or indication whatsoever that if either Mr. Sillanyo or Mr. Warabe takes office the country will be in better shape. To the contrary, in fact, many people fear if either of them wins election Somaliland forces may not maintain their strong grip on the country. Security may deteriorate.

Meanwhile, although most of the MPs are from the opposition parties, a number of MPs are on Mr. Kahin’s payroll and this explains why it is impossible to impeach him. During a recent interview with the BBC, Mr. Sillanyo chastised Mr. Kahin for corrupting the MPs.

Also, Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan, UCID Vice President Candidate, sheds light on how the MPs that supposed to serve the interest of their country are now the subservient of Mr. Kahin. Dr. Hassan states, “Although the majority of the MPs as well as the joint chairmanship of the parliament belong to the opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID, nevertheless often they have never been able to articulate meaningful proposals that reflect the policies of the parties they represent in the parliament nor the grand national interest.

Whenever they take initiatives in that direction, in most cases, they fail largely due to the manipulation and the interference of the government through bribes and political threats.”

Additionally, few years ago when Mr. Kahin extended the Guurti’s (the House of Elders or the Upper Chamber) term to another four years, Somalilanders knew when Mr. Kahin is in crises many of the Guurti members will return some favors. Some have kept their promises. (If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.)

The untold truth is: the same hypocrites that shed crocodile tears for Somaliland and how Mr. Kahin ruined it keep him on life support and accept bribes from him.
In short, Mr. Kahin’s chances of winning the upcoming election are next to nil. His greed simply ruined his political career. In fact, his UDUB party is doomed, much less win an election. That is, if Mr. Kahin does not step down peacefully, he will leave office disgracefully and so will his party UDUB.

Don’t get me wrong. It is within Mr. Kahin’s right to compete for the presidential election, but he cannot continue to hog power after September 27, 2009. Enough is enough!

Despite the ominous clouds hovering over Somaliland, the majority of its people are optimistic that their wisdom will prevail again. Repeatedly, the noble citizens of the North [Somaliland] have demonstrated their voracious appetite for achieving peace. It is the pride of Somaliland patriots that at the height of crises, everybody rushes to the negotiation tables—not to the battle fields.

Truly, the people of Somaliland are natural-born pacifists. As history will attest, the current crises too will pass peacefully. And Somaliland—an extraordinary nation of mediators and peacemakers—will press ahead.