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Hargeisa Under Undeclared Night Curfew
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Editorial & Opinions

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- Somaliland; What May Hinder Its Recognition?

- Open Letter to Dahir Rayale Kahin

- Sillanyo: A Sore Loser?

- Words From a Somalilander in Diaspora on May 18th Anniversary

Hargeisa (SL Times) - An undeclared night curfew has been imposed on Hargeisa by the Somaliland authorities. In the last few weeks, it has become routine to see armed security men deployed at checkpoints at various parts of the city during night time. Motorists and in some cases even pedestrians are stopped at these checkpoints for inspection and then told to go straight home to sleep or "waa la seexanayaa", a term that was in common use during Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime.

Such behavior coupled with other types of repressive measures like arrests and beatings by security men, have already triggered a backlash against the government among Hargeisa's citizens.

Apart from the harassment, humiliation and trauma experienced by Hargeisites during night curfews, the curb on the freedom of movement has undermined business in various sectors, such as transport, restaurants, tea-shops, local entertainment and wedding services.

Last Monday night an attempt by the security forces to apprehend members of a group consisting, according to the government, of about 30 young men, had failed to produce arrests on the scene. According to the ministry of Interior, the target of the operation was a site located in the western outskirts of Hargeisa, where a group of youth suspected of plotting armed activities against the government were believed to have established a gathering point.

The next morning the police rounded up a number of people from various parts of the city. By Wednesday the authorities confirmed the arrest of only seven people. Though the minister of interior had denied reports that KULMIYE was involved in the alleged conspiracy plan, other government officials had not ruled out the possibility of a link. On Tuesday, a KULMIYE spokesman said the opposition party was not in any way associated with any armed group. Other opposition sources expressed suspicion that the whole conspiracy theory might have been fabricated by a number of ministers who are likely to lose their jobs in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

In a dramatic escalation of current political tension, policemen conducted yesterday a broad day light search into residential houses located at Togdheer - Radio Hargeisa road. The police were reportedly looking for people listed as wanted in connection with ex-combatants allegedly regrouping to subvert public security. During this incident, Haatuf journalists Abdulfatah Aidied and Mohamed-Amin were subjected to police harassment immediately after they arrived on the scene for investigation. Though an attempt to arrest Abdulfatah failed, Mohamed-Amin was not so lucky. He was seized by force and taken to Hargeisa central police station. This was his second arrest this month. Both Fadal, and Hargeisa police center station commander, Faysal, intervened to ensure the immediate release of the journalist.

In Borama, a court sentenced Haatuf correspondent Mohamed Omer to 3 months of suspended imprisonment in connection with an article that was published by Haatuf on May 7, 2003. In the article, Mohamed Omer quoted the Chairman of KULMIYE's Awdal branch as saying that UDUB party officials were involved in anti-Somaliland political activities. KULMIYE branch leader, Axmed Farah, was later accused by the authorities of fabricating malicious information while the Haatuf correspondent was charged with imparting malicious information. Haatuf Media Network and The Somaliland Society for Independent Journalists and Writers have condemned the arrest and trial of Mohamed Omer as politically motivated.

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