Somaliland: The headless Chicken


Stranded Ethiopian Airline pasengers/file

Dr Maher Ege

Somalilandsun – Thousands of families from every corner of the world have visited Somaliland during this year’s summer break of 2003. They have spent a huge amount of their savings. Direct flights .

of Ethiopian Airlines from Addis to Berbera have made the travel easier and affordable.

Unfortunately the intervention of a mad Ministry of Somaliland has destroyed the lives of

five hundred holiday makers and their children.

The Ethiopian Airline prefers to fly to Berbera Airport which has got better facility and safer

than the newly refurbish Hargeisa Airport. The government has other ideas.

Hargeisa Airport has been under construction when Ethiopian Airlines started their flights to

Somaliland thanks to Kuwait fund. Hargeisa Airport has been reopened in August 2003 with

spectacular fanfare. Some people believe that Kuwait fund has been squandered as the

perimeter wire fence has not been completed and therefore people and animals can enter

the Airport easily. The opening of Hargeisa Airport has been followed by a fall out between

the corrupt and incompetent government of Somaliland and the Ethiopian Airlines. The

consequence of this fall out has been a disastrous loss of trust between the two parties. The

government of Somaliland insisted that Ethiopian Airlines must land Hargeisa Airport rather

than the safer option of Berbera. Ethiopian Airlines refused. Unwisely, the government of

Somaliland refused to let Ethiopian Airlines to use Berbera facility. Ethiopian authorities

have retaliated by suspending all flights to and from Somaliland. The losers of this unwise

decision have been the passengers including women and children, the weakest in our


The Somaliland Government hasn’t made any effort in diffusing the situation. A mad

Ministry have been responsible of this saga and the President has not bothered to


The Government has lost its head just like headless chicken. It has been rumoured that the

weak President set up a committee to look into the issue. The reality is that the President

has not shown any sense of leadership to solve the problem. I have been informed that the

President sets up committees to solve the problems of the country rather than showing

leadership and dealing with the matter hand on. I have questioned myself; if part of

Somaliland is invaded by another country would the President set up a committee and wait

to decide for him.

It is a country paralyzed by incompetent political class.

It seems that Somaliland is at war with their protector and business partner i.e. Ethiopia.

The Government of Somaliland hasn’t shown any interest in protecting the interest of its

people. They have lost their head just like a headless chicken. The people of Somaliland view

their Government as corrupt, incompetent and tribal. The President has not taken any

action against the mad Minister because he has got a tribal cloak. The President himself

behaves just like his form master Mr Siad Barre.

The opposition has been dormant and weak to have any meaning voice and initiative or

challenge the Government for the last three years but at the least they’ve shown some

sympathy to the passengers. They have given their opinion through the existing media.

The Ethiopian office in Hargeisa has shouldered the responsibility to issue new travel tickets

and coaches to take passengers to Jigjig where they have been transferred to flights to

Addis. On 11.9.2013 they have arranged a convoy of six coaches to carry passengers to

Ethiopia across the border but the Somaliland Government would not let the passengers go.

At this point the passengers have organized themselves and they have elected a committee

to meet the Somaliland Authority. They have stormed the Presidential office at the centre of

Hargeisa where they have been met with the Minister of Presidency who complained to

them that the Ethiopia Airlines’ action somehow has influenced the oil exploration

company to leave the country. Unfortunately he has failed to offer any assistance to them.

Five hundred passengers have become stranded in Hargeisa Airport with no water and food.

Five hundred children from Europe, Canada and America missed their class for more than

two weeks. The Somaliland government has been indifferent to the plight of the people who

brought so much money in to the economy of the country.

On twelve of September 2013 the Ethiopian Airlines office in Hargeisa has arranged a

convoy of six coaches to transport passengers across the border to Jigjig and then to Addis. I

am sure the Ethiopian Airline has incurred a lot of money in terms of issuing new tickets,

transport and accommodation expenses for the passengers while the headless Somaliland

Government has been just watching from the sides. The questions is does the Somaliland

Government deserve to be called a government elected by the people. The Somaliland

public are expecting the President to lead and govern rather than setting up committees.

This is not a government; it panics like a headless chicken once it faces a problem even if it is

smaller than an ant.

In conclusion, Somaliland must learn a lesson from this fiasco and make meaningful changes

that addresses the grievance of Ethiopian Airlines. The President needs to wake up and

govern the country or let others do the job. I do not see any point of pushing Ethiopian

Airlines to land Hargeisa Airport when the company has chosen not to flight to Hargeisa

Airport for security reasons.

Dr Maher Ege