|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
President Riyale: “We & The Opposition Have Agreed To End The Political Deadlock”
Hargeysa, Somaliland, 7 June , 2008 (SL Times) – On Tuesday (3 June), President Dahir Riyale Kahin announced, in a press conference held in his office, that his government and the opposition have agreed to end their political differences over the next presidential and local municipal elections scheduled at the end of 2008 and early 2009.
Speaking to reporters, Riyale expressed joyfully that his government and the opposition have agreed to settle their differences in order to end the political squabbling in the country and to ensure that the political parties are prepared to take part in a just and fair election.
“During our meetings with the opposition, it was agreed that the presidential vote should be held before the local municipal elections. This was an opposition request. We accepted this request. We did this to win the confidence of our colleagues in the opposition and show the opposition that my government is dead serious and determined to hold these elections. For a long time now, the opposition have been accusing the government of using delaying tactics to forestall the presidential election. To prove that this is not true we agreed to hold the presidential vote before the local municipal vote,” said Riyale.
In an unusual upbeat mood, the president stressed that it was most crucial that his government and the opposition stood together in a united front when it comes to national issues and said that one of the agreements made with the opposition was to formulate a closer working relationship with each other and to keep in constant touch by holding meetings on regular basis.
“We all want the same thing, whether, as leaders or ordinary citizens and that is whatever is good for the country,” said Riyale.
President Riyale stressed that he would like to inform the public that the government and the opposition, as from Tuesday, have resolved their political differences and from now on will work together in a common front.
“We and the opposition must assist the National Election Commission (NEC) in helping them execute their duties. The voter’s registration exercise which the NEC will be conducting is new to us and has never been attempted before in this country. I believe, because this is new to us, there was bound to be disagreements between the government and opposition.
This is a very important feat which needs to be completed. When you consider 2 out of every 5 people in Somaliland are non-citizens, either from Ethiopia or Somalia. This is why we must register every Somaliland citizen because, tomorrow, only those issued with an ID card will have the right to exercise their vote in the coming elections,” said the president.
Riyale urged the media to weigh the type of information it relays to the public. ‘Too often, news material not worthy of our national cause is fed to the public, which only makes matters worse for all.’
After president Riyale concluded his speech, the following questions were put to him by the media.
Media: As you know, there is a UN Security Council delegation attending the Somalia peace conference initiative taking place in Djibouti, do you think that they will drag Somaliland into the conference? Did they invite you to attend and how would you reassure the public on this matter?
First of all, let me inform you that there are bound to be many issues which will collide with Somaliland’s interests, but this conference, in particular, is held for southern Somalia. To be precise, it’s for the opposition in Asmara and the other camp [ TFG], and is an attempt to get these two to have dialogue. The UN SC delegates are not going to reach or make some policy at the conclusion of this peace initiative, but they want to witness, firsthand, what is going on in Somalia and want to encourage the opposing camps to have dialogue and make peace. From there they will be travelling to another 5 other African countries.
But let me inform you that whether they send a UN peace keeping force or not to Somalia, I can reassure you that this will not have anything to do with Somaliland. Our government is not in the cold about this. It is well aware of what is going on, and do not think that we have not contacted the outside world on this. We have expressed our concerns to the international community and continue monitoring the situation and in touch with the international community.
Media: The last few months have seen a political deadlock in the country, and the government and the opposition have now brought an end to this deadlock. How far do you think that this will help or advance the campaign for attaining recognition by 2008, the year often said to be when Somaliland will achieve its international recognition?
First, all things are in the hands of God, and whether we get our recognition or not, it is dependent on Him. What we need to do is put effort and do our best in ascertaining our recognition.
But, I personally believe that the coming elections will be the last hurdle and decisive factor marking an end in our long search for diplomatic recognition. In the international arena, no one gets a ready-made and packaged piece of political policy as a gift. There are many obstacles, crises and wars are going on in the world, with many competing interests and political gains.
In truth, we have been unlucky when travelling overseas and there is little mention of us in the media of the country we are visiting, even though they may mention us but they will always give the larger coverage and space to Somalia. We do stress to the world leaders and media why they continue to focus on Somalia, a non-existent entity and at same time not mention us at all.
It is imperative upon us that we do try and do our best to convince the world that we deserve to be recognised and continue to do our best. Nonetheless, I’m sure we will get what we deserve, God-willing.
Media: It’s being said that the three party chairmen have not yet signed the agreement reached by you and the opposition; don’t you think that this should be done as soon as possible so it [agreement] becomes binding?
Regarding the political parties, let me inform you that the three parties each commission a special select-party committees made responsible for executing, processing and formulating the agreements made by the party leaders and we have each anointed them to be signatories to the agreements. All the party leaders have given guarantees to stick to the agreements.
Media: In recent times there has been an influx of non-Somalilanders entering the country and a large number of Somalilanders leaving the country. What precautions has your government taken about this?
We are not alone in this. The same dilemma is being faced by many African countries. In particular, those under 30yrs are the core ones leaving their countries for the West. It is most unfortunate that we are losing our young. It is a serious problem, and there is not much we can do about this. Many of these are not from poor family backgrounds and cannot be said it is due to poverty that they are leaving for the West, but rather, for economic gain.
We have in the past tried to deport many of the foreigners in the country. But when you consider that these people have come to seek safety and shelter due to insecurity in their countries, we have taken the decision to let them stay in the country until peace returns to their regions.
Media: The 5 years you were given the mandate for the presidency has expired, therefore under what oath are you continuing to run this country?
I am under the same oath which I’ve been under for the past 5yrs.
Media: Mr President, many people hold the view that even though, your term has expired that you are not willing to vacate the presidency, regardless of whatever happens. What would you say to this?
This is not true, I am the president by law, whether my term has expired or not, we have a constitution, please, read the articles which makes my presidency legal. I have mentioned to you already my willingness to vacate the office of the president. I have brought forward the presidential vote before the municipal elections. This is a clear indication on my part that I am ready to vacate the office sooner than the law allows.
Media: What is your message to the UN Security Council?
The UN Security Council, I would like to let them know, just like I have done on many other occasions, that they should not treat Somaliland as if it is part of Somalia.
Source: Somaliland Times