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Police Prevent ‘Qaran Party’ Meeting In Gebiley
Hargeysa, Somaliland, July 14, 2007 (SL Times) – A delegation of ‘Qaran’ party officials were prevented last Sunday by the Gebile district local police from holding a meeting in the conference hall of Askar hotel in Gebiley town, 50km west of Hargeysa.
The delegation was led by veteran Somaliland national Movement (SNM) activist and co-founder, Muhammad Hashi Elmi and included Muhammad Abdi Daud, co-member party founder and Abdirahman Haji Hiirey, the party spokesman.
Qaran party caused much controversy when it was formed 3 months ago in Hargeysa by the political opponents of the Rayale government.
The government holds the view that the constitution in ‘Article 9’ stipulates “The number of political parties in the Republic of Somaliland shall not exceed three (3).” and has vigorously stated many times in the media that it won’t allow Qaran or any other party to register itself and contest in local and national elections.
Qaran, on the other hand, argues that ‘Article 22 ’ of the constitution which states that “Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural affairs in accordance with the laws and the Constitution” gives them the right to form a political party. Qaran contends that ‘Article 9’ refers to the post local-government pre-qualifying stage for the presidential elections, in that the first 3 parties to secure 20% of the votes in all the 6 regions of Somaliland’s local-government elections will qualify for the 3 national party status and contest in the presidential elections.
The Qaran delegation went to Gebiley town to have consultations with their party supporters and booked the Askar hotel conference hall for the meeting.
Before the actual meeting took place, a large contingent of police officers from the district’s Gebiley police division forced everyone, including the Qaran delegation to empty the conference hall and hotel premises and ordered the hotel owners to close down the entire hotel temporarily. But, this did not deter the Qaran delegation who decided to convene the meeting under nearby tree outside the hotel premises, in the shade. Immediately, large crowds began to congregate under the shady tree and were asked by the party officials to settle themselves down and let the meeting begin.
The local police could only look on, while guarding the Askar hotel main entrance gate.
Muhammad Hashi Elmi, opened the meeting after the customary Quranic recitation. He said, ”we have been, unfortunately, made to witness again the sad tactics of the Siyad Barre regime, the very same tactics, which our blood, wealth and towns were sacrificed for. It saddens me greatly that Rayale’s administration is reverting to these cowardly acts by using the good name of our police force to prevent the free and respected citizens of this country to congregate and discuss, debate and consult each other on matters pertaining to their country’s political, social and economic interests. We will not riot, nor take up arms against this administration but, simply, hold meetings in our ‘God-given’ open space under shady trees and discuss how Qaran will win the next general election.”
Elmi, sarcastically remarked that “during the liberation struggle, the SNM meetings always took place under, similar, shady trees in the open. Qaran is a legal organisation and is in compliance with the constitution of this country. It’s most regrettable that today, veterans of the liberation struggle are prevented from holding a meeting in Gebiley. The people of Somaliland gave their lives and wealth to have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association. It is enshrined in Qaran party’s constitution to uphold these fundamental democratic principles”, Muhammad Hashi Elmi said.”
In his speech, Elmi detailed their party’s political program and its agenda. The program covered the party’s policies in education, health, employment and industry.
“The party has opened branch offices in many of Somaliland’s districts and regions, and today, in Gebiley we have made arrangements to open a branch office,” said Muhammad Hashi Elmi.
Muhammad Abdi Daud, a leading member and official of Qaran party, speaking to the large crowd, gave an account of what he termed “complacent attitude of the government to the high rate of corruption, the rampant economic and social deprivation never witnessed before in the country.” He also defended the legality of Qaran party’s existence.
A member of Somaliland parliament, Ibrahim Ahmed Haybe, who was present in Gebiley when the police prevented Qaran party from holding the meeting in Askar hotel, spoke with anger towards the police for their action, and said “I can barely keep myself composed because of what had taken place today in my town. I am angered by the police action. I am not a member of Qaran party but was in town for my own private reason's when the police illegally raided Askar hotel and disbanded Qaran’s meeting.”
Haybe added, “as an elected MP from Gebile, on behalf of the people of Gebiley district and town I ask the Qaran delegation to accept our sincerest apologies for the police action. They had no right to prevent you from holding your meeting in the hotel.”
Mr Haybe pointed out that Qaran officials hold meetings in Hargeysa day in and day out, and in rest of the country, without ever being harassed or prevented, and have opened Qaran branch offices throughout the country without the least trouble. What has made Gebiley an exception? Our district’s police and local authority should be ashamed of themselves for what has taken place here today.”
Haybe urged the authorities that “Qaran party should be left alone until the constitutional Supreme Court makes a legal judgment on its legality”.
Gebiley police declined to talk to SL Times when asked to comment on the reason Qaran party was prevented from holding a meeting in Gebile town.
Mustafa Askar, proprietor of Askar hotel told SL Times that the manner the police raided his hotel and treated his staff, customers and those gathered inside the hall was despicable. He stressed that the hotel incurred some losses as a result of the police actions and that he contacted the Gebiley police chief and held him responsible for the hotel’s losses. The police district chief told Mr Askar that he was “carrying out orders received from Hargeysa.”
Source: Somaliland Times