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Monday, November 14, 2005

 

Somaliland: Stability amid economic woe

Ahmed Hassan is sitting behind a large stack of Somaliland shillings on one of the dusty streets of the market place in the capital Hargeisa. He and other money changers are doing a brisk trade, converting between shillings, dollars and euros. "We watch TV every morning to check the strength of the dollar," he says, as a wheelbarrow arrives, piled high with Somaliland shillings. Somaliland has its own currency, along with its own national anthem and flag. It even issues its own passports. But Somaliland is a country in limbo, a state in waiting which no other country recognises. 'Unhappy marriage' Former British Somaliland became independent in 1960 and joined Italian Somalia to the south a few days later to form the Somali Republic. We Somalilanders have built this country from the ruins, no-one has helped us President Kahin But it was an unhappy marriage and in the 1980s, a rebel movement formed in the north to fight against the increasingly oppressive rule of Siad Barre. After Barre's fall in 1991, clan elders in the former British protectorate met and agreed to unilaterally declare independence from the rest of Somalia. Traditional clan-based negotiations have brought a remarkable degree of stability - a sharp contrast to the continuing violence in some other parts of Somalia. Peace has allowed refugees to return and businesses to re-establish. In Hargeisa's market, Ahmed Hassan and other money-changers keep only a casual eye on the mounds of Somaliland currency. "You see a lot of money here, but do you see any police, any guns? We have peace here," he said. Fragile economy Elsewhere in the capital, multi-storey buildings are springing up and newly-opened car dealerships compete to give the best prices for imported second-hand jeeps and pick-ups. "We Somalilanders have built this country from the ruins, no-one has helped us," Somaliland's President, Dahir Riyale Kahin, told the BBC. But the economy is still extremely fragile and poverty among Somaliland's population of 3.5 million is high. Outside Hargeisa, at one of the many water points that dot the arid plain along the border with Ethiopia, Abdi Abdullahi waters his cattle. "We are getting poorer, every year there is less grass for our livestock, and they produce less milk," he said. Budgetary woes More than half of Somaliland's population are nomadic pastoralists. The livestock sector, though, traditionally the backbone of the economy, can no longer support the growing population. Increasing numbers of destitute herders have arrived on the edge of cities like Hargeisa, swelling the numbers of urban unemployed which the government acknowledges are now worryingly high. A ban on importing livestock by Saudi Arabia, imposed in 1998 after claims Somali livestock was infected with disease, has had a crippling effect on both the rural and urban economies. "Sixty per cent of our foreign currency was earned from the export of livestock to Saudi Arabia. Since the ban, the government has found it very difficult to make both ends of the budget meet," said Hussein Ali Duale, Somaliland's Minister of Finance. Relying on remittances Many families now survive on remittances from relatives who fled to Europe and North America during the civil war. The government estimates that the diaspora send back US $300m to Somaliland every year. But remittances can provide only a short-term safety net. "In the coming 15 to 20 years, most remittances will stop," said Mr Duale. Somaliland's unresolved international status means it cannot access funds, from either private or public sources, on the scale required He believes that the next generation among the diaspora will have looser ties to their homeland. "A young boy of 18 will ask 'Why should I send money to Somaliland?" This means the economy urgently needs to diversify. And that requires massive investment in sectors like infrastructure and education. But Somaliland's unresolved international status means it cannot access funds, from either private or public sources, on the scale required. "The obstacle is that some companies say they cannot take their assets to a country with no international recognition, even if the country is peaceful," said Mr Duale. And although Somaliland does currently receive a modest amount of external aid, it has no access to World Bank or IMF funds, or to bilateral budget support. Poison pill But some Somalilanders believe additional aid, if it is channelled through the state, may be a doubled-edged sword. To a large extent what pushed tyranny in Somalia, and finally brought the collapse of the Siad Barre regime, was internal struggle over who will have what Hussein Bulhan Somaliland Institute for Development Solutions "It will kill the patient, it's a poison pill," said Hussein Bulhan of Somaliland's Institute for Development Solutions. "It will aggravate problems, there will be more struggles within the ruling elite. To a large extent what pushed tyranny in Somalia, and finally brought the collapse of the Siad Barre regime, was internal struggle over who will have what." Hussein Bulhan believes restrictions up to now on the level of external assistance have forced local solutions to problems. "That is part of why we had to create and to think and to improvise. These experts that come tend to make people uncreative. In Somaliland, people had to do it on their own," he says. "Help should be received from the outside world, but the initiative has been taken and that should not be destroyed." The challenge now for Somaliland is not just attracting large inflows of external resources - but attracting them under the right terms.

Story from BBC NEWS:

 

WHO IS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE SPEAKER OF SOMALILAND PARLIAMENT

Djibouti (HAN) November 13, 2005 - The ruling party, UDUB, and the new opposition alliance have already begun jockeying for the vacant post of the Parliamentary Speaker. But while Rayale is still playing his cards close to his chest as to whom he will nominate for the post, the opposition has already put all their cards on the table.Sources close to the Presidential Palace say however that president Rayale is likely to pick Abdulqadir Jirdeh for the post. If that is the case, then president Rayale must have made the right choice compared to the less experienced man from Finland, Abdurhaman Cirro, that the opposition, the newly formed alliance between Kulmiye and UCID, nominated for this post.
If the above source is correct, then the two men who would be contesting for this post are worlds apart in terms of qualifications, experience and abilities.
Cirro, a Finnish national, was a former graduate of SIDAM before he was assigned to the Somali Embassy in Moscow as a First Secretary in the dying days of Barre’s ousted regime. Although less is known about the man, friends say he is a soft-spoken and gently shy man who might not fit the bill. During his stay in Moscow, he helped hundreds of adventurous Somalilanders stranded in Moscow who wanted to make a quick dash across the bear-infested borders between Russia and Finland, seeking a new life in the West. Later, Cirro himself sought asylum in Finland where he is now a citizen of that country.
Jirdeh, the former Deputy Speaker of the Somaliland parliament, is a graduate of University of Bradford; and has received MA in Conflict Resolutions. But more importantly, he has many years of experience under his belt making him the longest serving Speaker in Somaliland and the ideal candidate for this post.
But the comparison does not end there, there are number of other reasons why Abdulqadir Jirdeh is still the ideal man for the job compared to his rival from the opposition side.
First, Jirdeh is the most experienced political heavyweight among the 82 newly elected members of parliament. He is a man who has an in-depth understanding of the Somaliland Constitution and the important rules of the parliamentary traditions and etiquette. Furthermore, Jirdeh is a man of consistently sound judgement, and a man of honour and decency whose qualities are hard to fault. He will really make all genuine Somalilanders very proud if the parliament approves him although those who are blinded by clannism and party political immaturity could not be convinced otherwise.
Truly, Jirdeh is a popular man who transcends across the tribal lines and the immature party political bickering that has characterised Somaliland’s political landscape. Unlike most of cabinet Ministers he is not at Rayale's beck and call and was not a party to the raiders of the national coffers.
Second, under his stewardship Somaliland was averted from plunging into a political turmoil after the sudden death of former President Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal because of the potentially dangerous clan rivalries within the administration at the time. If Jirdeh weren’t the lead man, the transition of power would not have been a peaceful one.
Third, after the sudden death of Egal, Abdulqadir Jirdeh was the man that Rayale picked for the Vice-Presidency but as many of us are aware Jirdeh declined that offer with gratitude. He thought there were other men who would make a better Vice- President than himself.
In a greed-ridden country like Somaliland, where everyone is aspiring for a position, how many people do you think would turn down for such a high post? The answer is quite obvious. Prior to that, Jirdeh was offered a number of other high government posts but declined all of them. As a result, many people saw him as a forthright man with towering integrity.
Four, unlike his colleagues in the government who display a vanity and selfishness and drive around in Hargeisa with conspicuously upmarket Toyota 4x4 station wagon vehicles with tinted glasses, Jirdeh refused an offer of a brand new vehicle and a chauffeur from the government. He disdained himself from the evil practice of competing his colleagues with the material world of instant gratification, which he saw not only as a waste of public resources but more importantly something that violated his simple values. He is a loner yet possess the rare ability of relating to people from all walks of life as well as on both sides of the broader political divide. It was this modesty that obviously surprised many people and has come to symbolize his austere lifestyle and man-of-the-people image. There is nothing artificial about this man. His unpretentiousness, honesty and an unflinching commitment to Somaliland’s sovereignty and independence often struck many people as naiveté, since we live in a country where evil seems constantly to triumph over good and villains become heroes.
Unfortunately, for his critics, the opposition- particularly the hard-to-please Kulmiye supporters, do not feel comfortable with Jirdeh. Conversely, UCID party leader, Faisal Ali Warabe, do not have any grudge with Jirdeh because his party was more often than not supported the government’s policies before he entered into a marriage of convenience with the Kulmiye party lately. Faisal’s intention to nominate Cirro, his close friend and business partner, for the post of the Speaker is nothing more than a PR exercise aimed at enhancing the image of his under dog party.
Kulmiye’s uneasiness with Jirdeh stems from the fact that Jirdeh had opposed the impeachment of President Rayale several months ago before the previous parliament was officially dismissed.
The dismissal of the parliament was prompted when Jirdeh gave the lawmakers in what many people described as compulsory recess over the radio. In fact, Jirdeh smelled a rat from miles away. He discovered that the lawmakers at the time were being opportunistic and simply wanted to impeach the president for their own personal interests thus prolonging their term in the parliament.
In other words, the whole exercise was a conspiracy to advance the personal interests of the lawmakers rather than a genuine democratic exercise. If Jirdeh had allowed this to go ahead and president Rayale was impeached, there is no doubt that the former parliamentarians would have been in charge of the parliament today. And Kulmiye and UCID would have been shouting from the sidelines at the top of their voices without having their fair share of the parliamentary seats. The Vice-President would have stepped into the shoes of Rayale and the odds of holding a presidential election in 45 days, as stipulated in the constitution, would have been much tougher than the opposition might have anticipated. Furthermore, holding the parliamentary elections would have been out of question. Thanks to Jirdeh who voted against his parliamentarian colleagues so that the parliamentary election could be held. It is also worth remembering that, albeit at a high electoral price, Jirdeh refused to join ranks with his own clan, who wanted to boycott the parliamentary elections because of their grievances over the Electoral Law. He has made huge sacrifices to make the parliamentary election possible- a sacrifice which the opposition should acknowledge.
Yet for some strange reason, Kulmiye still remains vindictive and is still grumbling as to why Jirdeh let Rayale off the hook when the sword of impeachment hung over the head of the president. This could be construed to mean that Kulmiye simply wanted to enter the palace from the backyard and hold the reigns of power. But the logical question to ask here is: would Silanyo be a president today if Rayale were impeached? Far from it, Somaliland would have been plunged into chaos as the unruly mob of disparate clan interests vied for power.
Even, if the presidential election was held today, Kulmiye would have lost the election and Rayale would still be the president of Somaliland. That is the cold comfort for the Rayale haters on the opposition side. Right now, what Kulmiye needs is not to bemoan over what Jirdeh has done or should have done in that crucial period but to put that behind them now, and spend plenty of time to transform themselves into a serious electoral alternative.
For their part, UDUB must abandon its old habits of stealing from the public purse at will, of detaining people without bringing them to trial and of trampling on the constitution and the laws of the land. The opposition has the mandate to bring the government to task and scrutinize its actions. The government will be forced to submit itself to a system of governance, which will demand accountability and transparency.
Kulmiye and UCID must , for their part, stop spoiling for a fight with UDUB. They should rise above their parochial and myopic calculations of factional advantage; old battle-axes must be buried and clear and creative thought must be brought into the equation. A paradigm shift is needed. The opposition should not only seek to turn their parties into a vehicle to challenge the government’s failures and wrongdoings but they should also use their power sensibly and responsibly.
In conclusion, if UDUB picks Abdulqadir Jirdeh for the post of the parliamentary speaker, then Silanyo and Faisal should not tie the hands of those lawmakers in their parties who want to vote, as matter of a principle or because of national interest, for the right man who is qualified to handle the job and able to transform this embryonic parliament into a robust institution.

Sources: HAN Staff & somaliland net editorial. Hargeisa.

 

Heshiis xabad joojin ah oo laga gaaray dagaalkii ka dhacay magaalada Muqdisho

Mogadishu 14 Nov. 05 ( Sh.M.Network) Xaalada meelihii shalay lagu dagaalamay ee degmada Yaaqshiid ayaa saakay degan, ka dib markii xalay heshiis xabad joojin ah ay isla gaareen dhinacyadii dagaalamay, iyadoo maleeshiyooyinkiina la kala raray.
Xaaladda Degmada Yaaqshiid ayaa saakay ku waabariisatay nabad, iyadoo saakay aan la maqleyn dhawaqa rasaasta ka dib markii labada dhinac ay ku heshiiyeen xabad joojin rasmi ah.
Joojinta dagaalkaasi ayaa waxaa isku howlay shirkadda Banadir ee ka arimisa dekedda Ceelmacaan, iyadoo maleeshiyooyinkii iska soo horjeeday la kala geeyay goobihii ay ka kala yimaadeen.
Gudoomiyaha Midowga Maxkamadaha islaamiga magaalada Muqdisho Sheekh Shariif Sheekh Axmed oo u waramay Shabelle ayaa waxa uu sheegay in xaaladu ay tahay mid degan, isagoo sheegay in heshiis xabad joojin ah la gaaray.
Gudoomiyaha Midowga Maxkamadaha islaamka Muqdisho waxa uu intaasi ku daray in maanta Gudigii dhex dhexaadinta ay hubinayaan sidii ay u dhaqan gashay xabad joojinta isla markaana ay kulamo gooni ah la yeelanayan dhinacyadii ku dagaalamay degmada Yaaqshiid dabadeedna kulan guud la qaban doono.
Dagaalkii shalay ka dhacay degmada Yaaqshiid ayaa waxaa ku geeriyoodey 14 ruux halka tirada dhaawaca ay sii cagacageyneyso 20 isla markaana ay u badan yihiin dad rayid ah oo haleeshay rasaasta habowga ah.

Shabelle Media Network, Mogadishu

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