|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward
December 23rd, 2007 – We find the news of the release of Dr. Mohamed Abdi Gabose and his vice chairs from jail (Mohamed Hashi Elmi and Jamal Aydeed Ibrahim of the Qaran political association) as a very good step toward Somaliland’s steady progress toward democracy and the rule of law. It is gratifying to see the president choose reason and good judgment and bring to an end the campaign of suppressing the aspiration of nescient political associations by detentions and threats.
The recent statements coming out of the president which declared that the recently released politicians will not be allowed to run for political offices for the next five years seem to negate the initial positive action taken by him when he released them from jail.
It also raises more questions than it answers:
For instance, without getting into the legality of the matter, does this mean that this presidential decree applies only to the three leaders or is it a blanket ruling affecting the whole Qaran political association?
The reason why no-one seems to know exactly what is going on in this president’s administration is that most everything is done through statements made by the president or his ministers, the courts and the judicial system are completely missing in action, and as a matter of fact the recently released Qaran leaders have yet to see any documentation from any governmental institution informing them of the terms of their release or even as to the reason of their release.
The difficulty for the president is that it never an easy matter to rule by decrees and not clash with existing laws in a democracy. Having failed at getting the Qaran leaders to “ask” for a pardon and accept the ruling of the kangaroo court that illegally (in the eyes of the international and Somaliland communities) sentence them to a lengthy jail term, he unilaterally took the action of releasing them and now demand that they to stop fighting for what they have been imprisoned for the last 123 days in Mandhera, or else…
There is very little chance that the leadership of Qaran and its supporters are going to cease and desist from what they see as their fundamental right to participate in the political process and veil threats from the president of future punitive action to those who do not heed his warnings are not going to dissuade them from backing away from insisting on all the rights and guarantees enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
Democracy can be a messy affair and it is by no means a perfect system, but the most important aspect of it is that it allows equal access to the process to those who adopt it as a system of governance. And Constitutional laws safeguard the rights of citizens so that no one is above the law (including the president) and equity and fairness are guaranteed to all the stakeholders in the country.
The question is not whether the country can have more than three parties, and Qaran is not making that argument, the question is whether political associations are allowed in the Constitution, and whether it guarantees the rights of the citizens to be elected into an office and to vote.
If the president insists that citizens are not allowed to form political associations and participate in the political affairs of the country, then how can he explain away article 22 of the Somaliland Constitution, which states the following:
“ Article 22: Political, Economic, Social and Electoral Rights
1. Every citizen shall have the right to participate in the political, economic, social and cultural affairs in accordance with the laws and the Constitution.
2. Every citizen who fulfils the requirements of the law shall have the right to be elected (to an office) and to vote.
The only legal manner in which Qaran can be denied the right to participate in the coming election is to amend this article (22) in the Somaliland Constitution and remove these fundamental rights it grants its citizens of Somaliland.
We urge all concerned communities, whether local or international to impress upon the president that the rule of law must prevail and checks and balances must be evident, the Media, all legal associations and Human Rights organizations must be free to practice their trade before democracy can be felt at the grass root level and Somaliland can rightfully claim to be a truly a democratic nation.
East Africa Policy Institute.
Mahdi A. Abdi.