Friday, April 17, 2009

Official: Britain Furious Over Election Delay in Somaliland

Somaliland Canadian Congress

Somaliland Canadian Congress
Official: Britain Furious Over Election Delay in Somaliland

London, 16 April 2009 (Somaliland Today)- The British government has expressed strong disappointment over delay of presidential elections in Somaliland following the approval by the House of Elders for a further six-month extension to Rayale's term of office.

The strongman of Somaliland, Dahir Rayale Kahin, met Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, on 6 March during which the Foreign Secretary was "firm in his desire to see trouble free elections in Somaliland". That was before Rayale's presidential term expired on 6 April, 2009.

In addition to this high level engagement, Britain's ambassador to Ethiopia, Norman Ling, was also shuttling back and forth between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa "to raise our [Britain's] concerns" relating to the postponement of presidential elections.

In reply to a letter by Jamal Madar and other signatories, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the signatories' concerns had been duly noted and added that, "delays to the elections can only have a negative impact on the perceived credentials of Somaliland by the international community and Somalilanders alike". A similar petition-letter by Jamal Madar and his colleagues has been circulated to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons and "will be accepted as a written evidence to the Committee".

During his visit to the UK, Rayale told Miliband "he would willingly step down if he were to lose in the elections and that he and his party would seek to work constructively with the new president for the great interests of Somaliland".

The Foreign Secretary urged Rayale that "it is essential that the election process is carried out effectively and democratically and that all parties work together to make the election a success".

However, unbeknownst to Miliband is that soon after his arrival at Hargeisa Airport on return from the UK visit, Rayale ruled out any concessions to work with the opposition parties and refused to apologise to the Somaliland people for the government's repeated failure to hold the presidential elections at least three times for the past year alone.

"A government can only be replaced by a government," said Rayale

"Rayale seems to be suffering from a severe case of historical amnesia. His five-year term mandate had expired in April 2008. Neither he nor his government has a mandate to govern the country," said Mohammed Yonis Awale, former chairman of KULMIYE-UK. "The presidential term extensions in which he indulges are an affront to the democratic system and should be utterly and completely rejected".

KULMIYE categorically rejected the House of Elders approval for a further six-month extension to the presidential term, which it says has no constitutional basis.

Rayale saw the rejection as a kick in the teeth. He miscalculated that KULMIYE will initially reject the term extension but will not dare to use mass protests as a political tool– something that Rayale and his government hate so much.

On 6 April, KULMIYE supporters staged peaceful march in Hargeisa but police fired live bullets to disperse them. In the ensuing confusion, several policemen unleashed a hail of bullets against the leader of KULMIYE, Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo, but supporters shielded him from the bullets. Fortunately, only two people were slightly hurt and Silanyo escaped shaken but unscathed.

"This is an attempt on the life of the chairman of the party [KULMIYE] and will not be taken lightly", said Keise Hassan Egeh, General Secretary of KULMIYE.

Britain continues to invest a lot of time and effort in convincing Rayale and his henchmen to hold the presidential election but the prospect of Somaliland's strongman working constructively with the opposition parties does not appear to be on the cards until now.

Somaliland Today





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