Somaliland: President Failing as Commander in-Chief


President Silanyo Inspects a guard of Honour mounted by the Somaliland army/file

Somalilandsun—Last week, Captain Mohamed Aw-Rabah Yusuf and Lieutenant Jama Mohamoud Hadi, the commanding officers of Somaliland’s 17th army brigade were killed in Qori-Logud military post in Togdheer region, by not Somaliland’s sworn enemy, but by a soldier in a Somaliland army uniform. In fact, the killer was a member of Silanyo’s sub-Clan militia that was recently incorporated into Somaliland’s army without proper training. Moreover, according to eyewitness accounts–the killer received help from individual inside the post– who provided him the gun he used for the killing and the vehicle he sped away with.

What is more troubling, up to now, Silanyo, the commander in chief or Somaliland military leaders never held a brief conference about the killing of the officers. Silanyo also failed even to send a condolence to the families who lost their loved ones.

Because of the government’s silence of the fatal shooting, it created an atmosphere that the shooting was not the “act of opportunity” of a disgruntled soldier but a greater conspiracy, including, maybe, the infiltration of Somaliland’s army by the extremist group, al-Shabab.We should not rule out anything the motive of the killer until the government proves otherwise.

Why is the government still silent about the killing of the officers who dedicated their lives defending Somaliland?

The Commander in chief, Silanyo, has no answer to the families of why their loved ones were killed. However, the families of the officers and Somaliland public want answer from Silanyo.

The Government’s silence prompted a group of mostly young demonstrators in Gabiley, the hometown of Captain Mohamed Yusuf to protest Silanyo’s failed leadership as commander in chief and his callous disregard to the killing of the two officers.

And to “suppress and punish” the unarmed Gabiley protestors, as usual, Silanyo resorted to using his aggressive, well armed killers — a unit of a British funded and trained anti terrorism force known as the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), intended to fight terror. This week, a two year old child, was killed and his mother was injured, when the RRU Swat team’s vehicle run over them. Moreover, the RRU fired live ammunition, which wounded thirteen people, including two with a life threatening injuries, a mother and her two year child.

In fact, this not the first time the anti-terrorism force has been employed in a non terrorism related scenario.

More disturbingly, the hastily arranged burial of the bodies of the officers by the Silanyo administration demonstrated the lack of care of Silanyo to the families of the fallen officers. The defenders of Somaliland freedom deserve a special burial with full military honor because of their sacrifice. Instead the commander in chief holding a full military honor burial for the fallen officers, Silanyo was busy holding a lavish wedding for his daughter at the expense of the Somaliland’s public money, like any other African despot.

Why not the officers did get a full military honor burial?

According to a reliable source, in the Somaliland army, right after the killing of the officers, the First Minister of Somaliland, Hersi, with the help of his lap dog, Army chief, Gen Shaqalle, decided to cover up the killing. Hersi allegedly used money from the purse of the presidential palace to bribe out or pay blood money, under the table, to the victims’ families, in exchange for them agreeing, attending the hastily arranged burial of the bodies of the officers.

This type of reckless conduct, if proven to be true would only increase the doubt many Somalilanders had— whether Silanyo is running the country.

The Government’s handling of the killing of the officers was a complete embarrassment to the Somaliland government and its people. And it demonstrated the need to properly train and better screen any link to the extremist group, al-Shabab, for the clan militias joining Somaliland army, if proven the killer had ties with the radical groups.

More importantly, those who are protecting Somaliland freedom deserve when they lost their lives; the government must take care their families during difficulty time, and give them a full military honor burial and the financial compensation their families entitled in a transparent manner.

And the urgent need for Silanyo, the commander in-Chief, to talk to the families of fallen officers and Somaliland public. The speech of Silanyo should explain , what actually happenened and what the government would do to bring justice the culprit of the killing.

This incident would not have turned into a fiasco, had Silanyo, the Defense Minister or army chief staff held a brief press conference, right after they gathered all the facts of the killings and explain to the public , what really happened, Unfortunately, that did not happen.

I believe the Somaliland government failed its people. The First Minister Hersi and Chief of staff of the military, Gen.Shaqalle, are mainly responsible the government’s handling of the tragedy and they must be held accountable for their callously cover-up.

But If Silanyo decides to take swift action those responsible for the fiasco; he would prove to the Somaliland people that he is in charge. Otherwise, Silanyo is on the path of leaving his legacy as the man, who squandered the freedom; many Somalilanders, including himself, had fought so hard, and the cohesive army that is protecting that freedom. The stakes are very high. Silanyo must act quickly.

The author Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation in Lewis Center, Ohio. He can be reached at