Monday, March 27, 2006

Somaliland Congress must be fair and acknowledge their mistakes

The decision that Somaliland Congress deliberately ignored to include the University of Burao-yearly budget increases or allocating new funds while approving the other two universities of Hargeisa and Amoud must be rejected any Somali Lander who values the importance of education as well as fair share distributions amongst the Somaliland Universities. The elected officials must be fair and follow the Constitutions of the Somaliland. They should be helping all Somaliland Universities and not ignoring those who need the most.

Burao University needs equally as the other two universities and I think it is a sad thing that I should be addressing these issues to the brightest and well –educated Somaliland Parliament that we ever had in the recent history. The new parliament should look carefully and understand the importance of good governance and to have a check and balance. The Somaliland Diaspora and all Somali Landers wherever they are should reject this motion and appeal to their elected officials to contest and asked another re-look to this matter.

The new parliament should be looking and taking tangible actions on the following. Please, stop and read the following background cross-road:

We came a long way and Somaliland is currently the only place of so called Somalia where a formal administration actually exercises a modicum of authority. Today, Somaliland is at an important political crossroads, following a controversial and closely contested presidential election in spring 2003, the Local municipality’s elections and the last congressional elections. The decisions and directions it takes in the coming years will either consolidate the country’s experiment in democracy and constitutional rule, or push Somaliland toward political decay.
To illustrate my point further, Somaliland government is badly under funded. Its civil servants are paid only token salaries and hence only work part-time. Many of the ministries are hollow, with no staff beneath top officials to implement policies. But the government does maintain functional control over the national army; the police force and courts maintain public order; custom officials collect taxes at the Berbera port; the two houses of the legislature convene and debate bills; and at least some of the ministries are making serious attempts to play a constructive role in their assigned sector.

Those ministries tend jealously to guard their prerogatives, placing them in competition and conflict with international aid agencies (which often resist working through the ministries, preferring to operate directly through local NGOs) and with local municipalities. Most of the municipalities have been poorly run, but some of the most effective and capable administrative units in Somaliland have been at the municipal level, where a handful of committed mayors have overseen major public works-housing, water systems, road repair, and other services. Rapid turnover and reassignment of top personnel at both the ministerial and municipal level has eroded efforts to institutionalize good governance. Where effective governance occurs, it is typically personality driven and hence short-lived.

The Somaliland government has gradually extended its physical presence into eastern areas, and now is on the ground in about 80 percent of the country.

Civil society in Somaliland is relatively robust. Local NGOs have formed consortia better to coordinate activities, human rights groups are active, self-help groups have funded local libraries, hospitals and Universities, and a local think-tank, the Academy for Peace and Development has played an important role in advancing public dialogue about democratization.
Foreign aid to Somaliland has increased in recent years, but still is only a fraction of the amount of remittances (US $200 million) and export earnings(US $175 million when livestock is not banned by Saudis) generated by Somaliland. Ethiopia has been a quite partner to Somaliland, channeling some of its imports through Berbera and cooperating informally with the administration on shared security and other matters. Djibouti views Somaliland as a potential rival-an alternative seaport for the Ethiopians-and at times relations between Somaliland and Djibouti have been poor, especially when Djibouti supported the TNG. The Saudis have proved to be Somaliland’s least helpful neighbors; they have imposed an extended ban on Somali livestock, devastating the Somaliland livestock and export sectors, and along with Egypt are adamant supporters of the territorial integrity and unity of Somalia. Somaliland’s relations with the UN have at times been frosty, as the UN’s position on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia works against Somaliland’s aspirations for independence.

The Somaliland government devotes much of its energy to arguing its case for sovereign in independence to international community, and that will continue in the future. Those arguments have fallen on deaf ears in the past decade. Recently, however, Somaliland’s case has begun to get a more sympathetic hearing. This is so for a number of reasons. First, Western States are interested in shoring up a reliable partner in the war on terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Second, the international community is increasingly disillusioned with failed efforts to revive a central government in Somalia. Third, Somaliland’s political stock has clearly risen after having achieved a peaceful, constitutional succession in 2002, managed a closely contested election without political crises in 2003, and sustained a stable, lawful political environment in a tough neighborhood since 1996. It is unlikely that this stable shift in international perception of Somaliland will result in recognition, but it is quite possible that steps short of recognition, such as observer status for Somaliland in the UN, AU or IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority) could be entertained. Somaliland’s prospects for recognition are inversely related to the fortunes of the rest of Somalia; the longer the political impasse continues in Mogadishu, the more attractive the idea of rewarding Somaliland for its political achievements becomes.

Somaliland faces a significant political challenge in the aftermath of the controversial April 2003 elections, which left the country divided and disillusioned. However, the country has been united the aftermath of Parliamentarian elections, because this was one key issue that dominates Somaliland affairs. These parliamentarian elections were well managed and fair elections.
The flawed and controversial presidential elections exposed a number of internal problems hindering consolidation of democracy and good governance in Somaliland, including, in the words of a recent report, “Winter-takes-all style of political leadership, manipulation of clan loyalties for political purposes, and a brazen disregard for the rule of law.” The elections were, in some ways, a setback rather than victory for democracy. Political energies, strengthening the administrative capacity of the state, and curbing the autocratic tendency of the ruling party to restrict freedom of the press and use the law as a weapon against political opponents. International aid programmers will advance this agenda by continuing to place a strong emphasis on good governance projects.

Recent economic reports out of Somaliland paint a worrisome picture of a previously healthy economy now deteriorating. Hyperinflation has hit the Somaliland currency, eroding the savings and purchasing power of the poor, and import-export trade has declined sharply at Berbera port. The ongoing Saudi livestock ban is partially to blame for low exports, but the more immediate problem is increases in customs fees which are making trade out of Berbera uneconomic. Some Somaliland traders are now importing and exporting out of Bosaso port instead. If the economic situation in Somaliland is not corrected, it will soon create budget crises for the government and lead to secondary problems such as a rise in criminality and these and more tangible issues are waiting to solve for the newly elected Parliament.
I am very confident that our elected officials will do the right thing and will correct their mistakes.

Respectfully yours,Dr. ShacabiCalifornia, USA

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