Monday, December 26, 2005

"Is Government Trimming In The Air?!"

I am not sure. Rumour has it and this is not the first time. We heard it before. We are by now used to broken promises, so no one will get hurt if nothing materialises out of it. But some rumours persist more than others, and this one seems to belong to this crowd. I believe most rumours of this sort are made up by no ill-meaning groups or individuals of our general public. It must be part of our wishful thinking. You may not get it, but dreaming about it is an affordable alternative.

This time, the hearsay seems to hold a little more flesh than our usual futile hope. While talking to the Somaliland Community in Oslo on 17 December, the President said he will try to reduce his oversized cabinet. He did not say when and nobody asked him, as direct questions were not allowed. The UDUB cadre which chaired the meeting imposed on the meeting the worst kind of censorship I witnessed outside Africa . Questions were to be written in advance and then submitted to the UDUB secretariat. Out of the many questions which the public forwarded, they picked up 7 harmless questions, some of which were so far removed from Somaliland ’s contemporary political reality. It was an embarrassing farce of clapping hands and singing out praises for the President.

If no other evidence of Government shake-up is available, the recent frantic activities of some of the Ministers might offer a clue. Their nervousness may be a hint of a black cloud which portends a storm. Even since rumours to this effect surfaced in Hargeisa in late November, some of the men in Rayaale’s bloated cabinet were restless and running around like headless chicken. The boys close to the President are particularly nervous. Take for instance the Minster of Information who, given his poor performances during the recent parliamentary elections, probably has more reasons for worry than anyone else. In the loudest and foulest language, he condemned the election of the parliament’s new speaker when UDUB’s silly little attempt to highjack the Parliament miserably failed. I wonder how he felt when the President contradicted him by going along with the Guurti’s decision. In his speech in Oslo , he tried to include his boss in the ranks of Mujaahidiin . This came in a bold NewSpeak-style attempt of defining what Mujaahid should mean, not what it means. How Afweyne was made a member of SYL's 13 founders came to mind!

Another is the roguish Minister of Interior who is constantly on the vigil for his position. To impress his boss, he attacked the Honourable MPs of the opposition and the innocent journalists, smashing cameras and their Press gear. This Minister was particularly nervous this day because his job was on the line. He is probably the man who will fall the hardest the day he is told to take his hat and go. In latter days, the Interior Minister was extra active. He took over the Coast Guard from the geriatric Gaas Macaawiye. Like the junior Royals of West European Kingdoms, he’s been busy inaugurating minor events like the opening of Hargeisa's new abattoir and the insignificant new office of Hargeisa Governor.

Minister Buuni with his one-man portfolio was not to be left behind. He too spewed out a number of ill-fitting pronouncements in his hastily arranged press conference, immediately after the failure of UDUB’s coup d'é·tat . He was neither conservative nor respesctful in his verbal lashings against the opposition parties. The message was meant to be as loud as possible for the ears of his minders.

Sources close to Rayaale’s Administration say the Finance Minister is the most confident of the lot. The same sources in Hargeisa say his recent absence from a cabinet meeting was a declaration of that confidence, and in it he wanted to score two points: a) his despise for the Vice-President and b) his solid ground in Rayaale’s Government. But even he was on the move. In a recent Release, Awil told the nation to await good news with regard to trade with Ethiopia . Somalilanders will soon, he said, be able to very easily do trade with Ethiopia . The whens and hows of it were not elaborated. Perhaps there was not much to elaborate. The exercise was just a dress rehearsal for an imminent power play which is anticipated to unfold in Rayaale's Administration.

Whenever he opens his mouth, the Minister of Education exposes how lacklustre and devoid of fantasy he is. When the police shot and killed an innocent pupil in Hargeisa in late November, he blamed it on the opposition parties, but his proposal of giving Hargeisa University the name of the President crowns his incongruity. If this man hopes to survive a few more rounds in the Government, he better come up with a better strategy, and quick. Blaming the rampage of the Interior Minster on the opposition won’t you buy a Ministerial post.

Some say Hassan Abdi Khayre, the Minster of Post and Telecommunication came back victorious from his constituency at the end of the Parliamentary elections. Together with other arm-twisters of his tribe, he secured for UDUB a substantial number of seats at the expense of KULMIYE, which should have gained all the contested seats. So he sits well with Rayaale, say folk from his part of the country. These days, we are reading about the conflict which is looming between the Government and Somaliland ’s Telcos. At the centre of this conflict is an unknown American outfit, if name is TDI, which Khayre says will build a National Telecom Gateway. In a Press Conference in Hargeisa recently, the Minister said that the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) is assigning Somaliland its own National Telecommunications Gateway.

This arrangement is a bit unusual. ITU is an International Organisation within the United Nations, and does not (directly) deal with unrecognised countries. Through their National Telecommunication Councils, Internationally recognised countries become members of the International Telecommunication Union. Among other things ITU is responsible for the administration, allocations of National Telecommunication Codes, development and coordination of Telecommunication Standards etc. In rough terms, each Member State is allocated a certain number of Bands and Codes which could be used for the Modulation and Transmission of various types of signals: Radio, IP Packets etc. These bands are national properties. Based on National Laws and Regulations, which each country’s law-makers put in place, as well as International Rules and Regulations, it is the responsibility of the State Government to administer and license out national bands for private, public or military use.

Against this background, it is rather difficult to believe that the ITU is going to allocate Somaliland its own National Gateway. If this is true, it amounts to the United Nations recognizing Somaliland , which is not the case. We know that the United Nations does not recognize Somaliland . Not yet. A quick tour on ITUs websites
( will show you that, still, Somali Democratic Republic is a member of ITU, and not Somaliland, so what is going?

It seems Hassan Abdi Khayre is pushing yet another fishy business down the throat of the Somaliland people. Nobody knows who TDI is and even less what kind deal it got into with the Somaliland Government. But one thing is clear: the business between the Somaliland Government and TDI is not a legal transaction. According to existing regulations, the Government had to invite all national telcos to bid for the project, with eventual winners being subject to Parliament approval. Not doing so just shows, once again, what Rayaales’ Government is good at: secret dealings and wheelings in which national resources are sold to shady foreigners at a cheap price. This time, what is on sale are the national airways, which seem to go the same way the most prospective near-Berbera oil blocks went. The Government of Somaliland , as documented by various sources, sold 4 large prospective blocks to a Srilanken thieve and his Somaliland-born wife.

A new Parliament with a majority from the opposition parties is sworn in place on 29 November. It looks like the Government is trying to auction away as much national resources as possible before the new parliament grows teeth. Let’s wait and see what the new law- makers come up with. Before it is too late!

By Ahmed Haji Nur

Radio Horyaal Spokesperson

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