Thursday, June 17, 2021
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Somaliland: An Election on Show for a Sham Nation

By Khatumo Action Council

The northern one-clan rebel movement going by the misnomer Somali National Movement (SNM) are remembered for two treacherous acts they committed against the Somali nation: first they played a part in the collapse of the Somali State in 1991 together with other clan rebels. Secondly, they unilaterally declared the breakup of the country and the secession of the northern regions (former British Somaliland) calling it once again its former colonial name

Putting on the false trappings of a democratic state such as holding sham elections now and then are some of the ploys they seek recognition. And true to that track record, the SNM secessionist enclave calling itself Somaliland has held one such sham election on 31 May2021.

The SNM has spared nothing to make the occasion a spectacle that impresses their intended audiences inside and outside the enclave. Election observers, who are known to be sympathetic to them, or susceptible to bribes, notably former African bigwigs and leaders, have been invited for the occasion. All that glitters is not gold and this admittedly impressive show cannot all the same hide the underlying negative realities, or the fact that this secession will fail in the face of opposition from the unionist SSC regions. We trust therefore the international community will not be hoodwinked by a deceptive election which is put up to garner recognition for a cause that is doomed.

When it comes to the facts as to the voting, outsiders should bear in mind from the outset that of the four principal clans in northern Somalia (former British Somaliland), only one clan, the Isaak, supports the secession while the others (Harti, Samaroon and Isse) are occupied unionists who in principle refuse to take part in a treacherous exercise against the Somali nation. If a free election is proved to have taken place, it could only be in the Isaak regions which constitute less than 40 percent of northern Somalia, in terms of area and population. Otherwise, the election was forced on the unionist regions (Awdal) or hardly took place in the rest (SSC regions).

Despite the overwhelming military superiority of the secessionists, due to their laying their hands on the arsenal of the disintegrated Somali army based in the North after the collapse of the Somali State, our gallant people have all the same kept the secessionists at bay, unaided by any Somali government. Thanks to that sacrifice, the Somali national flag is today flying in almost all the SSC territory – from Buuhoodle, the second biggest city, to all the towns and villages. The secessionist’s presence is confined only to the capital Lascanod and the few places near it where their militia are encamped. Other than Lascanod, they administer no territory.

If polling takes place in the SSC region on 31 May, it would only be in the capital Lascanod and the few places their militias are based. Those who vote would be mainly their militia in civilian dress masquerading as our people. And as in the past, the secessionists would transport voters to Lascanod from adjoining areas inhabited by their people to give the same spurious picture that all voters are from our SSC people who support the secession. Even if their quislings in Sool manage to bring some bribed voters, that would not change the basic reality that the SSC people have nothing to do with this election because they do not subscribe to their secession.

Nothing signifies and demonstrates more our opposition to the secession and this so-called election than the fact that all our 14 grand traditional leaders, the highest authority in the SSC regions, are not associated with it in any way. Rather, they are in the forefront to defend the union. These are the facts that the international community would need to bear in mind as they watch this spectacle which is mainly for their consumption.

Even if voting takes place in the enclave, and beyond in some places in the occupied regions, such actions do not per se represent democracy in action, or respect for the rule of law. Voting used to take place routinely in the despotic-run countries whose record on democracy and human rights and the rule need no reminding. This goes too for the enclave and its election. Daily violations of fundamental human rights are routinely committed by the authority wherever its writ reaches. One can be jailed for the most trivial accusation such as paying a visit to Mogadishu, singing in praise the Somali national flag, or having it in ones bedroom, or even admitting in public to a dream about the union.

Some of the worst victims whose rights are abused are those who have spent years in prison without charge or trial, or those whose imprisonment have ended and yet still continue to languish in jail for years on without hope of release.  Appeals from their people to the current leader of the enclave and to his predecessors for their release have fallen on deaf ears. These examples represent only a tip of the iceberg and mirror the nature of the authority in place. This state of affairs has prompted intervention by Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council who are now following the cases of these prisoners. The International community should be mindful of these appalling realities and not be swayed by this election facade.

What is more glaring about the enclave is the asymmetry in the share of power between the ruling clan (Isaak) and the occupied ones. The former monopolises almost all power with only token powerless posts set aside for the occupied clans. The presidency, all the three political parties and their leadership, key government ministerial and civil service posts, law and order and defence are permanently in the hands of the ruling clan. This realities together with the occupation are the antithesis of democracy and free and fair elections.

In terms of our SSC struggle, the secession would have succeeded if it was not for the resistance of the SSC people since successive Somali governments have paid it no attention if not aiding and abetting it as some leaders did. Unfortunately, the resistance was done a mortal blow when our regions came to be cast as “disputed regions” as if it has no population of its own. This stab in the back was initiated by Puntland to maintain its bogus claim to these regions, a claim which helps it punch above its weight in Somali affairs. Unfortunately, others found it expedient to follow this Machiavellian act and avoid their obligations to the SSC people, above all the UN and its development and humanitarian organizations.

It is true that the SSC regions were co-founders of Puntland in August 1998 but withdrew from it in 2012 at a clan conference in Taleex when the association with Puntland proved detrimental to us, a factor which led to the establishment of Khatumo. For Puntland to maintain its bogus claim, despite the reality of our withdrawal from it, is like the EU claiming the UK is still part of them despite BREXIT.

Somalia is facing two existential simultaneous threats to it. One is the Al Shabaab Jihadists who want to foist their Al Qaeda ideology on the nation. The other is the SNM enclave and their secession. Of the two, the Jihadist threat is the lesser evil. At least, they believe in a united Somalia and their ideology is unsustainable in Somalia and their demise inevitable sooner or later.

The secession as such is the greater danger to Somalia as it aims not only for the breakup of the country but also for the eventual collapse of the State altogether. It should not therefore be put on the back-burner any longer as successive governments have done. The two threats should be dealt with simultaneously with equal determination.

In conclusion, the Khatumo Action Council (KAC) would like to bring the following messages to the attention, respectively Puntland and Somalia’s international partners (IP):

  1. Puntland has for too long hamstrung the SSC struggle with its bogus claim that we are part of them. It has to declare openly that it has no such claim given the SSC decision taken at Taleex in 2012 to withdraw from Puntland and establish Khatumo. That decision has not changed and Puntland should respect it for the sake of the SSC, for its own sake and for the sake of Somalia.
  2. The SSC people have declared ad nauseam at every level their opposition to the secession since it was declared in 1991. That is still their stand. As such, Somalia’s international partners should bear in mind that our forefathers fought against the British for 21 years to defend Somali independence and unity. Their descendents will fight longer, if not forever, to defend their inalienable right to be free from SNM occupation, to remain in Somalia and to save the union. Given this inevitability, it behoves IPs to use their considerable leverages over the enclave to end the secession for their own sake as well as for everyone else.

Osman Hassan
Khatumo Action Council
Email: Osman.hassan2

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