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Besieging the parliament and the assault on Somaliland democracy

By   /  September 8, 2009  /  1 Comment

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Somaliland has accepted, like many other societies in the world, a system of governance in which its core foundation is the parliament. The present Somaliland parliament was the first of its kind in the history of Somaliland that was elected through popular vote in 2005 since the foundation of Somaliland in 1991.

MPs in the parliament consist of a variety of people from different social backgrounds with various political orientations – (descent nationalists, democrats, and half-hearted islamists) and (opportunists, tribal chauvinists, demagogs and bribe-collectors).

Although the majority of the MPs as well as the joint chairmanship of the parliament belong to the oppositoin parties, Kulmiye and UCID, nevertheles often they have never been able to articulate meaningful proposals that reflect the policies of the parties they represent in the parliament nor the grand national interest. Whenever they take initiatives in that direction, in most cases, they fail largely due to the manipulation and the interference of the government through bribes and politcal threats.

So in the eyes of the public, the parliament has been generally seen as a hopeless mechanism which failed the nation and they consider the majority of MPs as seflish individuals who only pursue their interests and hence frustrate the workings of the parliament.

What happened on 28th of August, the parliament was divided into two blocks: those who took a firm stand and stick to what they consider as a national issue and a parliamentary responsibility and those whose intention was to disturb the workings of the parliament of that day. The bone of contention started when the chairperson of the parliament, Mr. Abdirahman Irro saw that six MPs whom he suspended from the parliamentary normal sessions for three days in the previous day for disciplinary purposes were sitting in their seats. When he told them again that they should respect the rules of the parliament and leave the hall of the parliament in comformity with his previous order, they refused. Together with their colleagues from the UDUB Party, they started to throw, crash and overturn chairs and tables, cut microphone wires, tear documents and shout with provocative words.

Having realised that the situation is not normal for discussion, the speaker announced that the session of the day is closed.

Outside the parliament, another history was in the making again like Thursday, the 20th of August; the population of Hargeisa came out to express their anger with those who disturbed the parliamentary proceedings as well as the involvement of the government in this matter, particularly when they saw a huge police presence inside and outside the compound of the parliament. They were chanting slogans to defy the governent’s interference in the seat of democracy – the parliament.

Another interesting aspect of the events of the day was when one of the closest ministers of the president who often volunteers to face the public when they are angry, thought things were as usual. But indeed that day things were different. People were very angry for this government’s disregard of the law of the country and its intervention of the parliament. The minister was surrounded by angry young people, elderly, women and children. They demanded from him to resign, reminding him to understand the level of the frustration and the anger of the people.

The masses refused to leave and demanded explanation why the government is interfering the parliament. The speaker of the parliament, Abdirahman Irro together with his two deputies came out from the compound of the parliament and addressed the gathering. Four young men from the demonstrators raised him from the ground and put him on their shoulders. The speaker addressed the gathering with calm voice and with dignity and then the masses started to leavethe scene.

The events of the 20th and 28th of August have shown three significant aspects of the current situation of somaliland:

1. A government and a regime that is losing the confidence of the people by the day,
2. A parliament which is trying to regain the confidence of the people but still struggling how to achieve this,
3. Masses that are gradually understanding their rights including the right to demostrate and the right to defend their democratic institutions and the leaders that they think they are on the right side of the constitution.

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About the author

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Dr. Mohamed-Rashid Sheikh Hassan, UCID Vice President Candidate

1 Comment

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