At a press conference they held at the Ambassador Hotel, Hargeisa, Thursday, the leaders of the two opposition parties of UCID and Waddani, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi and Faisal Ali Alin Hussein ‘Waraabe’, respectively, accused President Musa Bihi of turning Somaliland into a tribal enclave that hankered only to his whims and wishes.
Faisal Ali, specifically, likened what he called the president’s current behaviour to someone tailoring his own vest regardless of what others thought of it or how badly it reflected on the rest of the community.
“We have kept our grievances to ourselves thus far in deference to the public and the good image the nation earned on how it conducted itself during the recent elections,” he said, adding that they can no longer hold their horses as the President, in his own words, has crossed all ethical and political lines.
“It has come to a stage where the President is buying off elected opposition candidates on tax money collected from people that have no passable roads, from vendor-mothers that had no public restrooms or canopied trade posts, from small traders eking out a living from a handful of tomatoes arranges on dusty sidewalks,” he said.
Faisal, specifically, accused the President of recalling MPs of his clan who had run on opposition tickets although he had refused to sponsor them when they needed him most.
“Guilty of all of that and more, the President is telling the world and his cronies that two opposition leaders who hail from the same general clan are holding him to political ransom,” he added.
Faisal recalled that there were times that they nearly backed off from the fragile agreement they reached with president Bihi in order to hold the elections and dissipate a growing international concern on Somaliland’s democratic resilience.
“The president made moves to install a hand-picked Chairman and Vice-Chairman at the National Electoral Commission. He also appointed a Director-general in lieu of opening it for competitions as has been the case in the past,” he stated. “We sacrificed everything for a united front and in order to preserve the reputation and integrity of our people. We did not wish to make the international community that Somalis everywhere were suffering from a malady that prevented them from managing their affairs on their own”.
On his part, Waddani Chairman, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Irro’, voiced concern over what he called an ‘unprecedented’ and ‘alarming’ development on which a new MP blew the whistle on.
“You have seen or heard of an MP who on midnight the night before held a press conference claiming that he had been called to a security facility in Addis Ababa where he went on a visit. When he asked why he was questioned and on what grounds, it was revealed that ‘his government’ forwarded charges against him,” he said, adding “if that is in fact the case, then it is up to the government to clear its name and to take the matter up with the neighbouring government to protect its citizen’s rights”.
The MP in question said he no longer felt safe with the ruling party or the government and declared he was crossing over to the opposition ranks.
Chairman Abdirahman, also, accused the government of arm-twisting and coercion against opposition MPs and MPs who ran on Kulmiye ticket but had, since then, moved over to the opposition camp.
“What makes it right that MPs who were elected on opposition standards cross over to his side while those who moved away from his camp were labelled criminals and a game for all kinds of coercive tactics and activities in the hands of the government?” He posed to ask.
He stated that the elections became possible because of the tolerance and civic responsibility of the opposition.
“We need to move forward and chart how to resolve outstanding issues that include the election of the upper house and that of the President next year,” he added.
Although the Somaliland Constitutional had validated the results of the 31st May double election for local councils and the House of Representatives on 7 July, the President has not called the parliament to convene in order to pick the House Speaker and two deputy speakers from among themselves.
The government and its ruling party, Kulmiye, are pushing to see the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Yassin Mohamoud ‘Faratoon’ as the House Speaker, and two MPs who previously ran and won on opposition colours as deputies.
The opposition fields Abdirizak Khalif, a former minister and deputy chairperson of Waddani party, who hails from the same constituency base as Faratoon, as Speaker with two deputies coming, respectively, from easternmost and westernmost regions of Somaliland – Sanaag and Awdal.
Between them, the two opposition parties won 52 of the 82-seat Lower House of the bicameral parliament.
Since then, a number MPs have crossed over to opposite camps heating up the speculation on who was to win the House leadership on the final tally.
Up to now, the picture is not clear as both the government and the opposition are suspected of using all resources and influences available to their respective sides to hold on to a majority roster to decide the final outcome when the house is called to order.
The mandated period for the President to call the new MPs to convene first sitting is fast drawing to an end, hence, the new turn the calm before the storm has taken.