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The Incarceration Of Haatuf Journalists: A Scar On Somaliland Conscious
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Food for thought


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A Letter To The Editor

Somaliland Is Regressing A Decade In All Fronts Not Progressing Mr. Rayale

The Incarceration Of Haatuf Journalists: A Scar On Somaliland Conscious

Awdalite Intellectuals Show Responsible Leadership On Haatuf Saga

Watch Your Language, Mr. Spokesman

Time To Backdown Mr. President

By Mohamed Yabarag

The continuing incarceration of Haatuf Newspaper journalists by Somaliland government, now in jail for more than a month without having a day in a court of law, is reminiscent to the dreaded dark days of old Somalia under the late dictator Siyad Barre. Welcome to Somaliland under Rayaale and his cronies.

What is even more alarming and disgusting about the whole saga is that the journalists and their chairman, Mr. Gabobe, a decent man who spent most of his life to serve and enhance the image of his country by putting his money where his mouth is, are now in the notorious Mandheera jail with common criminals, thieves and murderers. Moreover, we are now on the news for all the wrong reasons for the first time in as many years since the infamous case of Zamzam Duale. And what did Gabobe, Mohamed Omar Ali Dini do wrong? They have allegedly serialized libelous articles in their paper against the president and his associates. Well, if this is the case, since when did libel cases become punishable by imprisonment? What happened to the civil and press law signed by the president himself under the Somaliland constitution? What happened to the other institutions of the state? Are they simply there to make up the numbers and draw their salaries?

We all knew that Rayaale had stuffed his people in the judicial system of the land and that they simply rubber stamp whatever their boss dictates for them, but why are the two houses of the legislator stone silent about this sensitive and damaging case, especially the Guurti? What is the point of having parliamentarians if they are toothless, their words count nothing no matter how hard they press and that the government can easily get away with murder under their watch?

The Somaliland government led by Rayaale has set a new and dangerous precedent for our country by intimidating the press and freedom of speech and in the process tarnished the good image this nascent democracy has enjoyed over the last number of years. Mind you this is not the first time Mr. Rayaale has resorted to these disgraceful tactics and intimidation by jailing journalists and his opponents (let us not forget that he imprisoned Jamhuuriya newspaper journalists before and two young Kulmiye supporters who happened to differ with his toe-the-line polices in Borama for more than two years), but this time he has shown his true colors and the tin pot dictator that he has to become.

Despite having all the characteristics of a democratic state, Somaliland is increasingly becoming a police state under Rayaale whereby dissenters and people who have different political opinion than that of the government are incarcerated at the president’s whim. We have courts which can send people to jail indefinitely by the order of the president, or by his close associates. There seems to be a reincarnation of Geelle’s notorious court of former Somalia in our country. One of the main attributes of a totalitarian and dictatorship government is that the press is treated as the enemy of the state and the freedom of speech is not tolerated. Rayale’s government has all the above hallmarks. Since he came into the good office of Somaliland, Rayaale has created his own fiefdom in the presidential palace and turned one group against the other, often on tribal basis. The learned pupil of the late Somali president, Siyad Barre, has simply put a wedge between the Somaliland communities by favoring one against the other. The case in hand is that he wants all the residents in Awdal to toe the line and anyone who disagrees with his foolish concept finds himself/ herself in a awkward position. Perhaps that is why we are witnessing some people from Awdal who are out in full force defending this corrupt president wily nilly. It is abhorrent and outrages for certain members of my fellow Awdal communities to defend the indefensible.

I am not painting a rosy a picture about Rayale’s predecessors, but this president is the most corrupted president that has ever graced the corridors of power in Somaliland’s short history. From day one, he was determined and hell bent to empty the coffers of this poor state. I never forgot the word he uttered in front of a huge and enthusiastic Somaliland congregation in Chelsea and Kensington Town Hall in London in 2003 in response to a question about the corruption allegedly plagued his administration when he said this infamous line: “Maxaa la musuq maasuqi waxba meesha ma yaaliine” which roughly translates “there is nothing to embezzle in Somaliland as there is no money in the coffers of the state”. This unfortunate statement from the head of a small and young nation aspiring for good future was to become a reality four years from the day it was made in the heart of London. This major gaffe was interpreted at the time by many and rightly so that he will do so when the opportunity arises. The rest is history now.

In Rayale’s Somaliland, barely a day goes by without a corruption and other malpractices being mentioned in the country’s media. Are they all against him? Nonsense! There might be some members of the press who are malicious and have their own agenda, but in general, the press is out there to uncover the wrongdoings of those entrusted with the power. This young and impoverished country can ill-afford such malignant practices on the part of the president. Corruption and nepotism are rampant in almost all the institutions and branches of the government and whoever dares to say a word or two will face the full force of the security apparatus of the state. The president is wholly responsible of this unfortunate state we found ourselves in. Those blaming Haatuf for the current fiasco in Somaliland are dead wrong. The press doesn’t run the country. To put it simply the buck stops with the leader.

It is common knowledge among Somalilanders and its friends that this president has enriched himself and his close associates to an unprecedented level in Somaliland history and yet he is in total denial of this obvious fact. Even in democracy, this is what happens when one is allowed to entrench power around his clichés and continues unchecked for long periods. It seems he took the Somaliland people for a ride. Does he not know that all eyes are on him and his associates and that it is extremely difficult to sweep such embezzlement and malpractices as big as his under the carpet in this day and age? The trouble is that he surrounded himself with a bunch of yes men whose main goals are to enrich themselves as much as they can and the sooner this trend is arrested the better for the country as a whole.

The issue of Haatuf newspaper is a smokescreen on the part of a government that has failed time and again to deliver basic public services and wants to cling to power by hook and crook until the dying days of its current term. The next two years under this government will be very slow and painful. It is absurd and insult to the Somaliland democracy and its institutions that the press is muzzled and silenced with the arrest and consequent jailing of Haatuf journalists who are now languishing in the Mandheera jail for 40 days today. Their continuing imprisonment and the stone silence of both the public and the two houses of parliament is scar on the Somaliland conscious.



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