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Somaliland Interior Minister: “We Will Make More Arrests”
Hargeysa, 4 August 2007 (SL Times) - Somaliland Interior minister, Mr Abdillahi Ismail (Eeyro) speaking to the BBC world Somali section on Wednesday said, that “his ministry is determined to see an end to all Qaran party activities, even if this means making more arrests”.
The un-registered ‘Qaran party’ leaders, Dr Gabose, Mr Hashi and Mr Aidiid were arrested last Saturday by the government and were brought before Hargeysa Regional Court which issued a 7 day remand order for the leaders to be imprisoned in Mandera high security jail in Sahil region, while the government prosecutors prepare their case against the three Qaran leaders who are charged with various state and public order crimes.
In the interview, the minister was asked “what were the actual activities by Qaran party leaders that the government thinks was causing instability in the country?”
Minister: The government had made it clear to the Qaran party members that the time for political campaigning has not been decreed by the government and the National Election Commission, as directed in the constitution, and that not even the national three registered parties, Kulmiyey, Udub and Ucid have the right and permission to start election campaigns, let alone a non-registered political new party.
We warned Qaran but they decided not to adhere to our warnings and they continued with their political rallies and election campaigns, and this led to a number of incidents which seriously threatened the stability and peace in those districts where they held their rallies and caused clashes; for this reason the government had to act in order to safeguard the public safety and peace.
BBC: What clashes were these, and where exactly did they occur? These gentlemen say that they were the ones responsible for creating this peace and stability in the country and are the founding fathers and veterans of the struggle and Somaliland. Please, explain what exactly this instability that you say they caused?
Minister: To have a meeting and hold a gathering without government permission is not right. I have said that not even the legal national parties are permitted to hold public gatherings without the government’s consent. Furthermore, whether you are a veteran or not makes not the least difference. Anyway, we are all veterans; we all had some kind of direct and indirect association with the struggle and liberation of Somaliland. We are all freedom fighters, those in and outside the country, young and old alike. Everyone, has in one form or the other been promoted, worked and employed by the old regime. We all served in the government of Sayyid Barre. I don’t know who they particularly mean when they say so and so is ‘Faqash’ (a person loyal to Siyad Barre’s military dictatorship).
BBC: Do the terms “Faqash” and “NSS” (Siyad Barre’s secret service) bother you and the president since you both were high ranking (colonels) officers of the dreaded NSS right up to his downfall. Are you upset by the press releases by prominent figures and clan elders who state that you and the president are invoking “your old” ways, i.e Siyad Barre’s NSS tactics?
Minister: I cannot deny that I was a NSS officer. The actual word ‘NSS’ itself needs to be understood correctly. It means the upholder of peace and stability. It should not be seen to mean anything else than what it means. The same is true all over the world: security agencies are there to secure the stability and peace of a nation. Whether one was Siyad Barre’s NSS or president Rayale’s, it makes no difference. There were those who did worse jobs than NSS officers. I see no problem to be labeled ‘NSS’.
BBC: Yes, but these people say that the NSS of Siyad Barre used to commit a lot of crimes, and as a matter of fact they did commit crimes, there is no denying that Siyad Barre’s regime killed, imprisoned and tortured many people?
Minister: History will reveal who were those responsible for the heinous crimes, and the masses know who they were. Maybe, not those born after Siyad Barre’s regime will differentiate who did what, and who was innocent. God will eventually be the one who judges.
BBC: Minster, some people and those party members of Qaran argue that the ministry of interior, and the government in general, has no business to get involved in a constitutional crises, and should have let the proper authorities, the judiciary who are responsible for the constitution and its interpretation, be left to make the verdict regarding the legality of Qaran party. Was your government afraid of letting the courts make a decision on their own regarding this matter?
Minister: No, it should be up to the person (plaintiff) to seek the judgments of the legal courts. It’s not our duty or responsibility. Our duty is to uphold the peace and stability of this country. It’s Qaran who should have sought the legal advice of the courts, not us. It’s Qaran who did not follow legal procedures. Had they wanted to seek legal advice, they would have petitioned the Supreme Court to reach a verdict in this matter, and we, as the government, would have defended our position in the Supreme Court hearing relating to this issue.
BBC: Many people believe that the constitution allows for the freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to form political organisations, hold meetings, etc, etc. And that many political organisations, along with the three national parties can enter and compete for the local government elections, and the first three parties/organisations which get the first 20% of the local government election in all the six regions of the country become qualified to compete in the presidential race election, and eventually, become the national three political parties of the country as endorsed in the constitution.
Minister: For your knowledge, no one has refused the right for freedom of speech, every night, you have seen what the local media writes and broadcasts. The criticism, the bad mouthing and lies by the media against the government is all too well documented. No one has said you cannot air your personal opinions and thoughts, but nevertheless, Qaran does not have legal permission to hold political rallies, and all we are saying to Qaran is for them to wait until the appropriate time, and for them to seek the court’s decision. This is the problem between us and Qaran, that’s all it is.
BBC: There are reports that the government arrested this week two people whose premises were used for a press conference in which the government was condemned for last week’s arrests of the Qaran leaders, can you confirm if this is true?
Minister: Yes, the jailing of these particular two persons is true. The government’s actions are not limited to only the three Qaran leaders, but to whoever breaks the law and continues to engage in activities associated with Qaran. We will arrest and detain, and these two persons were among those we determined as being involved with the activities of Qaran. Whoever becomes involved in political activities will be arrested and will have to face the law.
Source: Somaliland Times