Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Message to Somaliland Police and Armed Forces

(Waridaad)- Dear Servicemen and Servicewomen

You are sincerely saluted for your noble service for the people and for the country of Somaliland, and for your patriotic allegiance to the cause of Somaliland. Somaliland people thankfully appreciate your deep nationalism of defending Somaliland independence as well as keeping the internal security of the country without having satisfactory salaries for the basic needs of your families or of you at this difficult time.

Colleagues; you are well aware of the political turmoil in our country these days. It is a situation that calls on every Somalilander, whether in the country or expatriates, to understand the roots of the political impasse and to take the required role. This political deadlock has been created by President Dahir Riyale Kahin after purposefully delaying the constitutional presidential election that would be held in April 2008 with the intention of establishing another senseless dictatorship in Somaliland just following the footsteps of Siad Barre. What is happening in Somaliland to day is a struggle between democracy and dictatorship, between a repressive government led by ungrateful Riyale who wants to return Somaliland to the dark years of dictatorship and pro-election, democratic movement led by opposition political parties and civil society who are committed to lead Somaliland to brighter, and prosperous future. It is also believed that the emerging dictatorship is a part of a wider plot conducive to civil strife designed by Riyale and his loyalists to damage Somaliland image around the world to undermine its independence and derail its recognition.

You all know the many problems created by president Riyale during the six years (2002-2008) he is in the office. The most notable ones of these problems are:

· Sidestepping the constitution and the laws of the country to grab the powers of the three branches of government sliding the country into dictatorship.
· Creating security crisis and an atmosphere of intimidation and fear to threaten opposition leaders and officials, democracy activists, and change-seeking masses.
· Committing human rights abuses by detaining or imprisoning opposition officials and dissidents, killing innocent civilians, cracking down freedom of independent press, speech, assembly, and blocking peaceful demonstrations.
· Undermining the democratic process of the country by repeatedly delaying elections to pave the way for totalitarian, repressive and suppressive regime.
· Entering into unilateral international agreements, creating new provinces without studying their demographic, economic, and administrative eligibility, and raising taxes and tariffs without being debated all and passed by the legislative branches. The creation of the new provinces to court votes is the height of irresponsibility, and entering into international agreements and raising taxes are signs of selfishness and greed to steal more public funds. Raising taxes and tariffs at this time of severe drought and global crisis of food and oil is cruelty beyond imagination.
· Crippling national economy with widespread, massive corruption of public funds without transparency and accountability. The country has both substantial revenue and foreign financial aid. Half of this money goes into the pockets of the top government officials and is spent on private buildings and businesses abroad and in the country while the remaining half is spent on divide and rule policy or on bribes like the money given to some of the Council of Elders (Guurti) to extend term for Riyale illegally. If Riyale and his government were honestly and decently serving for the people and the country, some of the national funds would be used to subsidize the skyrocketing prices of food and fuel while the rest would fund maintaining old roads, constructing news ones, improving water supply, health, and education, improving the living standard of the government workers, police and armed forces by raising their salaries and benefits, and creating jobs for the youth of the country.
· Discouraging the public sector of the country and crippling Berbera Seaport with high tariffs, which is the lifeline of Somaliland people.
· Dishonoring and demeaning the heroic, armed struggle of SNM (1982-1990) that led Somaliland to salvation, national reconciliation, and restoration of its independence of 1960, demonizing its veterans, and denying martyrs` widows and orphans of recognition and basic benefits.
· Employing disgraceful, faithless cabinet ministers who publicly demonize opposition leaders and officials, and insult tribes through public radio and pro-government press to please their tyrant, Mr. Riyale. It is an offensive to government ethics.
These are all crimes committed by president Riyale and his cronies and are typical characteristics of a repressive, criminal dictatorship.

Esteemed patriotic men and women; we are in the first decade of the 21st century. The era of military dictatorships and repressive regimes, of tribal rule, of divide and rule policy, of destructive tribalism and regionalism, and of arming clans against each other to seize power or stay in power is over. The era of using police and army as instruments of fear, intimidation, and imprisonment to silence or chock opposition and democratic forces for progress is over. The era of defending and dying for brutal, repressive dictators or reactionary regimes to prolong their rule through victimization of dissidents and forces of change is over. We are in the era of people’s power who understands that the government belongs to them and that they have the right to elect who they want to lead the country locally, regionally, and nationally. Somaliland people know that their interest, progress and prosperity of each person and each clan in Somaliland, and peace and stability of their country lie in president and government officials elected by the people through democratic, clean, and transparent elections.

Respected compatriots; you all know that president Riyale gathered you and your weapons recently in the major cities of Somaliland, Hargeisa and Burao, to use you for intimidation and engage you in criminal and repressive acts against opposition leaders and officials, traditional clan leaders, politicians, civil society, and masses who are all seeking political change, and to stifle independent press so he could eliminate presidential election to remain in office indefinitely. President Riyale and his inner circle are also widely believed to be behind the recent explosions that rocked Hargeisa to get false justification or pretext to blame and target opposition party leaders and officials to preempt elections.

President Riyale and his cronies want to treat you as tools used for their own benefits to stay in power just as Siad Barre did. They will create security crisis situation in the country and will make you believe that the leaders and officials of the opposition parties (Kulmiye, Ucid, and Qaran), and the independent press are behind it. They will give you criminal orders to impose curfew in major cities to target these leaders, officials and press, and to terrorize the civilian population. In such situation, remember that you took oath to defend the country and protect the lives of the people and their property, not to defend oppressive, repressive clique. Remember that you are from the people and for the people and for the country. Remember that your dress, ranks, salary, weapons, transport, training and barracks are all paid for by the people of Somaliland. Remember that killing, wounding or detaining innocent people is like killing, wounding and detaining your children, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Remember that you and your families are too suffering the same way the people of Somaliland are suffering from the current harsh living conditions caused by the injustices of the government.

Do not break your oath; do not betray your people and your country. Be on the right side of history; do not take orders for repressive or criminal acts, support and work with the opposition and with the people fighting for change. Do not listen to Riyale`s Siad-like speeches who blames opposition while he is the real problem in the country. Remember that you are not a clan militia but the police and the army of a nation; do not lose that pride and that dignified status of belonging to a national police or an army. Refuse the divisive, ill-advised tactics of President Riyale and his loyalists in the police and in the army; their days are numbered. With the help of the army and police, many African dictators were disgracefully ousted. Be part of the forces of change for better future for your people, for your children, and for yourself. A few of you will surely stain their name for siding with the repressive, suppressive clique and they will go down in history as despot supporters bearing serious consequences in both worlds.

Fellow countrymen and fellow countrywomen; you all know that the presidential term of president Royal ends on May 15, 2008. Somaliland National Coalition Government is expected to be formed after this date. If President Royal and his cronies insist on rejecting the decision of the National Election Commission and the three National Parties (Kulmiye, Ucid, and Udub) to hold presidential and local elections in October and December of 2008, the calls of the international community to respect that decision, the voices of the change-yearning civil society, masses and forces, and the formation of National Coalition Government after May 15, 2008, but, instead, starts cracking down Opposition Parties, pro-election movement, independent press etc, then president Riyale declares himself an absolute dictator. Hence, the people of Somaliland has the right to topple president Riyale through popular uprising led by the Opposition Parties after May 15, 2008, when his term expires and he is no longer lawful president of Somaliland, to prevent another atrocious dictatorship in Somaliland. Your support, the army and the police of Somaliland, to the toppling of Dahir Riyale Kahin, not president any more after May 15, 2008, is crucial to uphold the constitution of the country and the will of the people for which you took the oath.

After toppling Riyale and his group, a civilian interim government is required to be formed immediately to pave the way for democratic local and presidential elections as soon as possible. There are no reasons to postpone presidential election other than dictatorial ambitions. The Opposition Parties and National Election Commission should not let president Riyale entertain the nation and the country with more promises, talks, and agreements that he breaks each time testing the people` patience to prolong his repressive rule. The opposition parties, the people the army, and the police must prepare for the contingency of toppling Riyale. Watching passively the development of another tyranny in Somaliland is not an option; it must be eliminated on time. Dictators much more powerful than lion-skin-wearing Riyale were brought down. The heroic people of Somaliland know that there is no freedom without sacrifice. Long Live Somaliland.

Best Regards,

Ibrahim Hassan Gagale

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