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Somaliland government erred
on Kalshaale decree

By Liban Ahmad
Jan. 11, 2011

Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, President of Somaliland

Somaliland president, Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud "Silanyo”  issued a decree  about Kalshaale incident. Kalshaale is a grazing area in Togdheer region where armed clashes between two sub-clans in November last year caused  fatalities. Somaliland president declared Kalshaale a military area for Somaliland forces. His government would refund sub-clans for the expenses they incurred to build water-reservoirs at Kalshaale and support solving the dispute in line  with recommendations made by a Mediation Committee who met in Maygaagle  hamlet several weeks ago. Somaliland president has called for the organised sub-clans to withdraw their militias from Kalshaale, Meygaagle and Hagoogane areas.

Buhoodle traditional leaders said they would appeal against the judgement of the Mediation Committee.  Ahmed Abdi Habsade, former Puntland Minister for Interior who defected to Somaliland in 2007, described the outcome of the mediation efforts as a plot to fan hostilities that have already cost lives of more than four men. The pressing question is: Has the Somaliland president taken Somaliland law into account before issuing the Kalshaale decree?

The answer to this question depends on understanding the roots of Kalshaale incident.  Members from East Burco sub-clan has built water-reservoirs in Kalshaale, a grazing area where no sub-clan has ever used to build a water-resource.  A sub-clan in Buhoodle objects to the initiative to build water-reservoirs in the area. Several meetings aimed at resolving the water-reservoir issue   have not succeeded.  The deadlock caused the clashes in November last year between militias from the two sub-clans. The clash was reportedly triggered by the murder of the man from Buuhoodle  by the militia who set up water-reservoir at Kalshaale. The ensuing clashes between a group of men from the sub-clan of the deceased man and the other group at Kalshaale caused the death of at least four people.

A high-level meeting for traditional leaders was convened at Maygaagle hamlet. The outcome of the mediation was accepted by East Burco sub-clan but was rejected by the Buuhoodle sub-clan. Somaliland government said it is committed to implementing the outcome of Mediation Committee judgement but this is another misjudgement in addition to a host of missteps Somaliland government has taken since Water-reservoir disputes have emerged.

The Buhoodle sub-clan opposes Somaliland secession whereas East Burco sub-clan, to which Somaliland president belongs, supports secession. Somaliland did not intervene when the man travelling in a truck was murdered nor has East Burco sub-clan handed over the suspects to Somaliland authorities. Does the pro-Somaliland sub-clan regard Somaliland law inapplicable when their nomads commit crimes?

The belated intervention of Somaliland in Kalshaale incident  shows that president  Silanyo is still susceptible to  sub-clan pressure and that he has not matured into leader for all the people. During his chairmanship of Somali National Movement (SNM), one of the armed opposition movement against Somalia’s former military dictatorship,  the idea of restoring parliamentary democracy for the benefit of all Somalis was confined to setting  up, exclusive clan-based organisations to replace one type of one-man-rule with one-clan rule, an outlook he shared with leaders of other clan-based opposition movements. The irony is that the man who led an exclusive clan-based organisation is now keen to be recognised as president for clans his policies have excluded.

In March 1991, at he height of post-Siyad Barre pogroms in Mogadishu, president Silanyo, then SNM Central Committee member and ex-officio, wrote A Proposal To SNM under the title On A Framework For A transitional Government In Somalia, “ The Somali National Movement  and United Somali Congress [USC] and their fighters, the culmination of a long, bitter and bloody struggle against the ruthless tyranny of a tenacious dictatorship” deserve acceptance of “ their pre-eminence… and the legitimacy of their present authority recognized.” The legitimacy president Silanyo  was seeking for SNM and USC is one that, in his eyes, entitles the  two clan-based groups the right  to nominate half of the ten-member Council of State he  proposed in addition to the fact that “all aspects of the administration and government  of the respective regions, except those which fall within the domain of the central authorities are otherwise retained by the liberation organizations themselves .”  

The proposal the incumbent Somaliland president wrote twenty years ago shows that just as he failed to pay attention to the complex nature of post-Siyad Barre political realities in Somalia but positioned USC and SNM as the sole   armed, clan-based organisations to rule Somalia after the end of the military dictatorship, he has taken decision that may undo peaceful co-existence of social groups in what was known as ex-British Somaliland. In May 2011 Silanyo government will mark the twentieth anniversary of unrealised secession by Somali National Movement although the now-defunct group’s unamended constitution favoured unity. President Silanyo’s 2011 Kalshaale decree and his 1991 proposal have a lot in common. His government acted late and in haste


Liban Ahmad is the editor of Somalia Research Report and a frequent contributor to WardheerNews. He be contacted at: libahm@gmail.com


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