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This is a response to an article published in Somaliland Times by Rakiya Omar titled (Justice for the atrocities of the 1980s. The Responsibility of Politicians and Political Parties).
All of us have applauded and very much appreciated Rakiya's efforts to document and share with the world the atrocities that have been committed against Somalilanders in the 1980s, none of us cared whether or not all the allegations were true, because there was enough truth in it to make us happy with it. However, this article from Rakiya in Somaliland Times newspaper has pointed out how important it is to revisit some of those allegations involving human rights atrocities, specially those allegations that have been made against individuals who are running for election to become the president of Somaliland - I cannot agree with you more - Rakiya is absolutely right. I made similar arguments when Dahir Rayale became the President, and I still believe it is important that Dahir Rayale must respond publicly to these allegations.
However, my problem with Rakiya's recent article is not what she said, but rather what she did not say: There are three men who are running in Somaliland presidential elections to become the new president of Somaliland in 2003, all three of them have serious allegations against them, allegations that involve serious crimes committed against Somalilanders either in the 1980s or in the 1990s, most of us know those allegations very well, let me refresh your memory:
- Dahir Rayale allegedly have committed human rights violations against Somalilanders during Siyad Barre era in Sahil region, allegations that involve the death of people and destruction of property.
- Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo allegedly has committed human rights violations against Somalilanders during the civil war in Buroa, allegations that involve the death of people and destruction of property.
- Faysal Ali Warabe allegedly has aided NSS & security forces to put Somalilanders in jail during Siyad Barre era in the 1980s, allegations that include testifying against the members of youth organization (UFO).
I'm sure none of these allegations are new to the readers of Somaliland Times. Are they serious allegations? Absolutely yes. Should these candidates respond to it? You bet - at least in my view.
My beef with Rakiya's article is that she singled out Dahir Rayale, which might leave the impression that she has a motive to discriminate against Dahir Rayale because he is non-Isaaq. If Rakiya and all of us are comfortable with discussing the allegations against Dahir Rayale, then by all means let's open the gates and discuss all of them. I concede this discussion unfortunately might project a negative image of Somaliland, both in the eyes of other Somalis as well as in the international community - nevertheless it is also an important discussion that I believe needs to happen in public. We have left these types of allegations under the carpet for the sake of Somaliland's cause, peace and unity among Somalilanders - and it is reasonable that the Somaliland people might not be interested in this discussion publicly.
If we are moving to a different era where persons with such allegations are not allowed to serve in public office in Somaliland, which I must agree is a noble idea, then by all means let's put all the allegations on the table and ask Rayale, Silaanyo and Faysal to respond to them. This might open a genuine dialogue about this issue, and in the process give our people a chance to listen to what these leaders have to say about the allegations made against them before a new president is elected in 2003.
At a minimum, all three of them owe the Somaliland people an explanation by sharing their side of the story with us - there are families who lost their loved ones and they want to know what these men have to say. I have no idea who is guilty and who is innocent, but these allegations are real and will not go away.
Washington DC, USA