As President of Somaliland, I wish the conference well, but we cannot attend an event that ignores our history and our reality” said President Ahmed Silaanyo in his letter to the said conference. The Somaliland government’s decision to stay away from this conference was, as expected, exceptionally popular, inside the country and in the Diaspora. And there are a number of reasons that accentuate simple facts of life on the ground. That facts are substantial and tangibly reflect the public opinion of the entire country, on which such decision was based. Looking at this concern from all aspects of sanity, logic and legality it was the only option open for the leadership of this country to take. There are, at least, five big stories made the decision taken by the government unavoidable. These accounts in the recent past lie in between the ‘history and reality’ mentioned by the president Silaanyo in his letter to the conference that gave the Somaliland government no choice but to distance itself from that event. These stories are as follows:
1-The recent history that repeated itself: the sharp contrast of the two cities Hargeisa and Mogadishu is a matter that calls one to be immersed into the fresh history of the Somali armed struggle against the military regime of Siyad Barre, 1980s-1990s. In this period most of the today’s occurrences in Somalia and Somaliland have taken shape. It was a time when the seeds of peace and democratic trees were planted in Somaliland, as it was exactly the time when the preludes of anarchy and protracted civil wars were taking clear forms in Somalia post 1991. The story ‘how’ is follows:
Three main political movements, two from Somalia, SSDF, and USC, and the third SNM from Somaliland, engaged in an armed struggle against the dictator. The first two Movements were led by military officers; Col. Abdilahi yusuf Ahmed and General Mohamed Farah Aided respectively. They were close friends of Col. Gadafi and Col. Mingistu, who embraced them because of their military character. As a result, they were almost entirely dependent on them in everything aspect from Armament to Logistics. Therefore, the two organizations remained Militaristic and undemocratic, they had never had any party congress throughout the period of ten years of the struggle. This was a complete contrast story to the case of SNM, Somaliland, which was a democratic organization, and totally depended on the internal resources coming from the local people and from the Diaspora. SNM has been led by civilian leadership, and was able to organize six National Congresses held from from1982 to 1990. Moreover, the change of the leadership used to occur only through congresses, peacefully and democratically in four times. Worth to mention here, is the fact that none of the other two organizations (of the South) was able to hold any party congresses, nor had internal party democratic norms. What is happing right now in Somalia is only a true copy of that recent history repeating itself in both forms ‘first as Farce and then as Tragedy’. What Somaliland rejects is not what it has in common with the other Somali brothers, but to be part in the performance of this Farce in the Mogadishu theatre.
2-’Why Elections matter in Somaliland’, said the report by the Africa Research Institute about Somaliland’s democratic experience, according to which, in my view, Somaliland was right not to attend the London Conference on Somalia. As in any democratic society, the political leadership extends their legitimacy from the trust and confidence of the voters. No president in a democracy, who came to the position of leadership by a free and fair election, can take decisions outside of the institutions and against the consent of his voters. In the Somaliland’s concrete situation such a step would have certainly led to one of two options, the end of Mr. Ahmed Silaanyo’s leadership or an outbreak of an Arab Spring-like popular revolution or both at the same time. In both cases civil war was a looming possibility in Somaliland. Sadly enough, Mr. David Cameron, as the leader of the oldest democracy in the modern world was the last man expected to pay no attention to one of the most vibrant democracy in Africa by inviting it to suicidal by sponsoring an enforced union of two entities far apart in their values towards peace and democracy like ”Athens and Sparta” in the Ancient Greek history. This was done before trying to take even one step towards democratization of Sparta.
3-Two different tracks: these two different tracks reflect diverse cultures and approaches followed by Somalia and Somaliland in relation to peace and state building perpetually practiced over the years. These policies and practices resulted the outcome of the different realities prevailing today. Somaliland was built by internally induced efforts and resources, Somali solutions for the Somali problems were the basic principles and modalities. The process was entirely home-made project by which an epoch making achievements realized. On the other side in Somalia the process was and still predominantly non Somali, and that is why there is a total failure, because of dependence on foreign money and mind.
4-Different levels of developments: Somaliland now is in a far advanced level in peace and institutional building, whilst Somalia is in civil war, where African troops are engaging in a military campaign against Al-shabaab, and where all efforts of peace building are dependent on foreign resources, and where waiting everything from outside prevails as the only thinking, method and means to do business. Somaliland experience taught us the Somali wisdom that ”one can satisfactorily drink water through his own hands”.
5-The Somalia problem: One of the main leading reasons why Somaliland has no choice but to go to its own particular way of development resides in the experience that Somalia’s problem comes from three component sources; Extremism, Corrupt elite, and Foreign money. they together generate and reproduce violence, corruption, greediness, political apathy and indifference about the destiny of the country. These are the serious sicknesses that seemingly have no remedy unless extremism is defeated, not by mere counter violence, but also politically and ideologically, unless the foreign money stops, and people there be thaught to depend on their own local resources. Unfortunately, however, the London Conference, 7/5/2013, was for more foreign money to be raised, which calls for more corruption, and more apathy. To invite Somaliland to be part of this business was totally unfair and unacceptable.
And finally, The Mogadishu leaders need to know and realise one thing, that they cannot have the Cake and eat it at the same time. They cannot have a deal with Somaliland while trying hard to isolate it. By doing this, they are only destroying the bridge to the future we together have built in London and Ankara.
Email: Adam Muse Jibril