When Somalilanders voted for Ahmed Sillanyo they never thought they were voting for a president who would not be able to govern. They never thought that a clique of unelected individuals would be deciding the nation’s affairs on his behalf. They never thought that Sillanyo would turn out to be a vicious enemy of the free press. But that is the reality in Somaliland today.
Whether his advanced age failed him and let him fall into the hands of family members or whether it was a conscious decision on his part, the result is the same. The country was handed to a small circle of his family, his son-in-law and a few associates who are pillaging the treasury, signing away the country’s resources, and compromising the country’s sovereignty.
Somalilanders clearly have gotten a rotten deal from President Ahmed Sillanyo. They elected him based on what he was saying at the time: that he will govern in a transparent manner, that he will fight corruption, and that he will protect the country’s resources and sovereignty. What Somalilanders have gotten instead is the opposite: a president who is disengaged and who has given free rein to the family circle around him; a president who avoids any meaningful encounter with his people and does not hold press conferences to explain his policies and to be questioned by the free press, a president who has introduced into Somaliland some alien mores and practices (Dhaqan Xumo in Somali) such as family rule, the shutting down of newspapers, and the banning of TV stations.
One thing must be said for president Sillanyo though: he was able to fool Somalilanders for a long time by pretending to be someone else, someone other than who he really is. But he cannot fool anyone any longer. His record is now well-established.For instance, it now indisputable that he is no friend of democracy or freedom expression; that he is not a fighter against corruption, and that he is not a wise protector of Somaliland’s natural resources or sovereignty.
No doubt, Somalilanders have gotten a rotten deal from president Sillanyo. At this stage, it is also clear that though it took some time for people to figure out Sillanyo’s method of governance and real agenda, they now understand it very well and will not accept it. This is the point that President Ahmed Sillanyo and those around him need to understand. That the government’s present course is unacceptable to a lot of Somaliland’s people and that to continue along the current path is an invitation to a serious conflagration. This is also the message that UCID’s presidential candidate was sending in the press conference he held outside the court where Haatuf journalists were tried. Jamal Ali Hussein has warned the government that there will be demonstrations against the government’s constitutional abuses against Haatuf if the government continues on its reckless course. Similar preparations for demonstrations have been announced in Berbera.
We have already warned about the pressure that is building up as a result of the government’s violations of the fundamental rights of its citizens. If a conflagration does take place, and things do get out of hand, responsibility for it will fall squarely on the shoulders of Somaliland’s government. Allahuma inni ballaght.