|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives|
THE FINAL DISMEMBERMENT
The final dismemberment of the Somali Republic was a rendezvous with fait accompli- a self-inflicted mortal blow that finally consumed the vestiges of any shared values of our society, if there was any to begin with. The paradox is that periodically, some modern day crusaders of that long lost cause, in pursuit of self-gratification or personal aggrandizement, release ill-timed comparative and often biased analysis of the qualities of the current and past leadership of the ideal Somali state.
The victim of professor Abdi Samater’s consternation this time around is a very unfortunate character suddenly thrust into the political limelight without any prior experience. An unknown quantity striving to make to the history books, regrettably, of course, through the wrong profession- a flip flop disposition that lost bearing yet endeavoring to anchor a non-existent nation at a save harbor. The revered benchmarks of the professor’s comparison are exactly the limiting factors in Mr. Ghedi’s lack of political maneuverability. In 1960, Adam Abdallah Osman rewarded his personal driver the position of the governor of Mudug region; seven years later, the late Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke reciprocated Adam’s move in kind. The legacy of pre-colonial adversarial power competition between some of the inhabitants of the central regions of Somalia has resurfaced and that fact alone preempts any efforts at peace making. The leadership of the administrations so admired by the professor, left behind a broken nation teetering on the brink of disintegration.
The Prime Minister of southern Somalia may not have human blood on his hands; he may not be a savvy politician who can chart a peace and reconciliation road map; and he may not possess all the desirable human traits according to the design specification of professor Abdi Ismail; but lately, he has the courage to come to terms with the vainness of pursuing an absurd dogma that has outlived its usefulness. It is not a cardinal sin to opine that the elusive utopian concept of Greater Somalia is a dead end issue today. Does the mere statement sent the professor into a tailspin? Obviously, Mr. Abdi is not willing to put the final nail on the coffin of Somaliweyn.
If the warring factions of Somalia were seriously bargaining in good faith, third party interventions could have been completely eliminated or minimized. The so-called federal Somali government, a confederacy of criminal warlords put together by the IGAD states, lacks both legitimacy and credibility. It is essentially a government in-exile with no jurisdictional authority over the territory and the population it claims to rule. This Somali government of Embagathi Stock Exchange reputation will eventually fade into oblivion like its predecessors.
These essays, if one chooses to qualify them so, are short on objectivity but long on unquantifiable generalities in shaping postcolonial Somali history and politics. The current malaise in Somali body politic is not a spontaneous act of God; but is a symptomatic drama of the cumulative effects of wrong political decisions spanning over three decades. In other words, the issue is a cause and effect syndrome and the different forces at play should be addressed in a holistic approach. The effects of time and human behavior are very crucial to draw objective and meaningful conclusions. Without identifying the underlying subterranean causes of the conflict, the solution fails to produce the desired effects- a salient feature of the countless Somali peace and reconciliation conferences.
The interpretation of some randomly selected time frames of our recent history is nothing short of manipulation of the events and as well as the characters. The president and the two prime ministers in question never exhibited any exceptional or identifiable human qualities to justify the professor’s unwarranted tribute. President Osman may have retired into the twilight of political oblivion, but Mr. Abdirezak is still at the front and centre of Somali politics without making any tangible contribution to contain the crisis. Perhaps, southern Somalis should have picked him up as a dark horse and parachuted him as a compromise leader at Embagathi- a Hamid Karzai of sorts.
The professor’s perennial insistence for the past twenty years on coaxing or cajoling the rest of Somali society to accept some rigid and archaic political dispensations on the resurrection of the Somali Republic is an all too familiar crusade that lost its luster- It is a matter of no major significance in Somali politics of today. These theories failed to fulfill the expectations of the Somali masses.
“The unity, political independence, the territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the Somali issacrosanct’ –the quintessence of all-evil associated with the defunct Somali Republic , is becoming an irrational and inconsequential. Somali unity and greater Somali have both lost their appeal and it is time to seek a second opinion on the future of this comatose patient.
This terminally sick patient is progressively inching towards an irreversible vegetative state. In other words, it is not responding positively to the miracles of the professor’s prescription. The alternative: The removal of all life support systems . The false presumptions and prejudices of historians are an affront to shaping a true picture of what actually transpired in our recent past. A proactive solution to the current crisis of Somalia should not overlook the prevailing political reality in the region.
First of all, on matters of ethics, morality, and the often-heralded competence of the administrations of President Adam Abdallah Osman [July 1 st 1960- June 10 th 1967] and the two Prime Ministers associated with that era, people of my generation do not share the sentiments and the nostalgia of professor Abdi Ismail nor does anyone subscribe to such a superfluous canonization and character worship. The professor’s reverence of the first two-post independence administrations is not a true reflection of the times and I do reserve the right to differ with Mr. Samater on every point. What one should object and refute at all times is the professor’s projection of current and past events from the perspective of colonial era mindset:
The benevolent governor of the realm posted at a distant corner of the empire decides, at his sole discretion, the fait of the uncivilized human savages of the planet. History from a paternalistic perspective is a toxic intellectual pollution to the minds of the younger generations. Constantly bombarded with measured doses of this deadly poison, the innocent minds of our young will grow up with distorted perceptions of our contemporary history.
Before one lectures so passionately on the virtues of certain individuals and their impact on the political and/or the social landscape of the failed Somali state, one has to establish one’s own credibility, integrity, and impartiality of thought and deed.
Case in point: the professor’s attitude towards the hiring of a fellow Somali professor at the University of Minnesota . Tinkering with the livelihood of a fellow human being is a socially an unacceptable behavior in our culture. Professor Ali Khalif Galaydh was down and out on his luck at the end of his stint as prime minister of the transitional national government of Abdul salad Qassim Hassan fame. The smear campaign and the ensuing media circus of Abdi Ismail Samater was a spectacle in the state of Minnesota .
Other than few sketchy and uncorroborated accounts related to the court proceedings of Bettino Craxi Versus Italy, there is no concrete evidence. It has been alleged that Ali Khalif Galaydh was a star witness in the case and that he has admitted that the embezzled money will be held in an escrow account on behalf of the Somali people till a democratic government comes to power in Somalia . If that was the case back then, Mr. Galaydh should come forward, clear his name, and close this nagging question once and for all. The rightful beneficiaries of the said loot are in destitution today; a partial alleviation of the deprivation will certainly go a long way.
Although the exact figure is unknown, this story was circulating since mid 1980’s. It has been also related on countless occasions that the late Mohamed Farah Aideed argued in the same court that he was some how entitled to a10% cut of the European handouts channeled through Italy . By 1978, the European Union earmarked some US$400.00 million to Somalia- a sum twice the gross national product of Somalia at the time. To this day, successive Italian governments have failed to pin point the final disbursement of this development aid.
On the other hand, the two professors have identical views on the affairs of the failed Somali state and on that count alone; the issue should have been handled with some discretion and professionalism. A more appropriate venue would have been through the associations of the teaching profession.
The chronology of the events of the past forty-five years is not an exclusive domain of the historians or other social scientists. Those of us who are old enough and who lived through it remember vividly those events, and we can make our own credible conclusions. No professor on the face of this planet can persuade us to subscribe to certain unsubstantiated versions of some of the events and the characters that shaped them.
The bipedal species is endowed with an in information-processing engine at the top of his body that is constantly and intuitively receiving and processing this myriad of information. The imposition of rather one-dimensional and myopic views on the rest of Somali society is of course an indefensible proposition.
Abdirezak: The Minister of Interior:
The following true story occurred during the campaign for the so-called constitutional referendum/retroactive act of union during the summer of 1961. The said referendum was a pet project of the minister of interior and this where Abdirezak gets his dues without reservation or prejudice. The words Adam Yabal and Walaweyn made a sudden entry into our language, albeit with derogatory connotations: roughly translated, Adam Yabal means ballot stuffing and Walaweyn entails vote rigging . Every Somali speaking person should be grateful to Mr. Abdirezak Haji Hussein for this new addition into our literature.
According to Dr Ibrahim Hussein Bindhe, “One day during the campaign for the so-called constitution/retroactive act of union of June 20 th 1961, a heated political altercation between Haji Yussuf Iman and Abdirezak Haji Hussein in Berbera lead to a bizarre murder case.
In the middle of the night, Mr. Bidde, the commander of Berbera police cantonment, with the help of fellow Majertenian police officers, went on a murder spree. Armed with daggers, these criminals struck seven civilians for no apparent reason. Three of the individuals died of their wounds and the other four recovered after a long convalescence. The case became an explosive national and eventually president Adam Abdallah Osman sent an expert criminal investigator named Aideed Ilkahanaf. The investigator secured the murder weapon .
However, Mr. Bidde, sensing his direct implication in this heinous crime, ordered Mr. Ilkahanaf to stop the investigation and to leave Berbera immediately. The investigator contacted the Regional Police Commander in Hargeysa. The Regional Commander instructed Mr. Ilkahanaf to stay put and finish of the case.
A few days later, on the direct instructions of the minister of interior, Mr. Abdirezak Haji Hussein, General Mohamed Abshir Hamaan issued a cease and desist order to the criminal investigator and his immediate return to Mogadiscio. Mr. Bidde, a close relative of Abdirezak Haji Hussein was off the hook for this hideous crime.” End of the story and thank you Mr. Bindhe for this valuable insight into the life and times of Mr. Abdirezak Hussein.
The direct intervention of the minister of interior was an obvious obstruction of justice but such incidents should not surprise anyone because the minister was running a family fiefdom. Indeed, the Somali Republic of Abdirezak’s era reminds us the height of an institutionalized corruption permeating every facet of the administration. The late journalist, Mohamoud Jama Urddoh, did an investigative report on the composition of the Somali police forces. To his shock Mr. Urdoh found out that 67% of the commissioned officers of the police hailed from Majertenia. Mr. Matukade was a corporal in Kenyan police and Adam Abdillahi Nour “Gabyow” was a game warden prior to that country’s independence. Mr. Matukade joined the Somali police and with a short period of six months he reached the rank of captain. That was the magnitude of nepotism of general Mohamed Abshir Hamaan. Among the scandals exposed by Mr. Mohamoud Urdoh was the fact that the police officers hailing from Somaliland were systematically excluded from the yearly promotions. These embarrassing revelations and others were some of the deciding factors that lead to the defeat of the government of Mr. Adam Abdallah Osman and Abdirezak Haji Hussein on June 10 th 1967 .
In 1958 Mr. Abdillahi Essa Mohamoud, in a petition to the United Nations Organization, stated: “Poverty and deprivation are salient features of the population of British Somaliland . Their survival depends on their eventual union with Somalia upon independence on December 30 th 1960. Therefore, it is imperative that the independence of the two colonies should coincide.”
In 1962 the business community went on a general strike that shut down all the major cities of Somaliland . The governors of the Northern regions tried to play the old card of divide and rule but without any concrete success. A number of people lost their lives when the police used life ammunition to quell the demonstrating crowds. A high-ranking government official named Mohamoud Mohamed Malinguur wrote to Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke:
“The creed of the Northern inhabitants has no respect for authority and the rule of law.They are sufficiently wealthy to disregard the importance of government. The central government should institute an iron fist rule to change the culture of this society.”
In the early 1980’s, a Somali Airlines plane enroute to Hargeysa was deliberately tampered with. The manifest included General Mohamed Jama Anjeh- a career military officer who participated in thwarting the 1978 military coup of Osman Sheikh “Cirro” and Abdillahi Yussuf. Less than half an hour into the flight, the pilot radioed the control tower at Mogadiscio about a serious malfunction of the plane. The pilot of the ill-fated plane returned to Mogadiscio airport and complained about the airworthiness of the plane. The ground technicians and their superiors forced the pilot to continue the flight. The Plane went down near Jowhar due to mechanical malfunction. All passengers onboard perished in the crash. The point is: The criminals who did this premeditated cold-blooded murder in the 1980’s would not have hesitated a moment to do the same act in the 1960’s. The cases of mysterious deaths in very strange motor vehicle accidents were a front-page news item during the dark ages of the Somali Republic .
ABDIREZAK: THE PRIME MINISTER:
The parliamentary election of March 1964 was the critical turning point in the downward spiral of the Somali Republic towards the current obdurate crisis. President Adam Abdullah Osman dumped his Prime Minister of the preceding four years and he replaced him with Mr. Abdirezak Haji Hussein. The government of Abdirezak Haji Hussein [1964-1967] symbolizes the embodiment of the gilded age of the Somali Republic according to professor Abdi Ismail Samater.
The inauguration of Abdirezak’s administration was the beginning of the end of Greater Somalia. Internally, from Zeila to Kismayu and in almost every district in between, the nation exploded into localized internecine fratricidal wars often with government involvement. In Mudug, for example, the government utilized the national police force [Darawish] to round up and confiscate the livestock of the Habar Gidir to settle some blood feuds in the area.
On the Regional level, the Prime Minister’s office authorized cross border raids into Ethiopian and Kenyan territory. The Somali National Army trained and armed the Shifa [bandits] and the Kofiyad dhuub [the pointed caps] that terrorized the local Somali populations in Kenya and Ethiopia . More than twenty thousand Somalis lost their lives in Kenya and Ethiopia . The Kenyan government took extremely repressive measures in quelling the Somali government instigated uprisings. For the first time, special identification cards were issued to the Somali population of the Northern Frontier District- a discriminatory measure based on ethnicity. The Somalis were relegated to a second-class citizenship in their own country.
The dynamics of regional politics had changed with the change of administration in the Somali Republic. June 10 th 1967 was memorable day- the day the presidency of Adam Abdallah Osman and the Prime minister ship of Abdirezak Haji Hussein came to an end. The proceedings of the Somali parliament were broadcast live over radio Mogadsicio. On the second round of the voting, the Programme Director at radio Mogadiscio, Mr. Mustapha Haji Nour played the song “Wadigan se liite leexadu ku sedate: On the verge of political defeat or better still: a drowning man grapping the dross.” The new Prime Minister delivered a famous speech in which he chided the departing prime minister and obliquely tagged him the nick name “Ali Geelii Ba’ay= the famous Somali folklore tale of Ali who lost his camels.” Mr. Egal also recited a few lines from Abdi Gahayr’s
Usha lacaga laaskiyo dubuhu wey ku lumiyeene
Lafdhan jananka diidaa xabisguu liinta ku cabaaye
Lixdan baan jiree yaan indha laydhi kaa marine.
Forty years later, Mr. Abdirezak Haji Hussein is that Ali Geeli Ba’ay in spirit and attitude, a walking wounded man who never accepted or recovered from his political defeat.
The comments struck a raw nerve in Abdirezak’s head and to this day he has to shed that image. This political set back inflicted the former prime Minister an incalculable psychological trauma. Today, Abdirezak Haji Hussein is a bitter man carrying the wounds of the election of 1969. He is a sore loser incapable of letting it go. For the young generations, Mr. Haji Hussein was the chief mastermind of the assassination of President Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke. He was also the architect of the military revolution of Siyad Barre of October 21 st 1969 .
In 1968, the political rift between President Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke and Abdirezak Haji Hussein forced the luminaries of Majertenia to arrange a ceasefire. The patriarch of the clan, Haji Mousa Boqor, called the President and the former prime minister to attend a meeting at Merka and both agreed to the arrangement.
At the meeting Mr. Abdirezak spoke first and to the surprise of everyone in attendance, he said, “ Since Abdirashid is the president, then the position of the prime minister should be mine and mine alone.” The president rejected the former prime minister’s proposition out of hand. However, the gathering took an unexpected detour:
the participants agreed that the future Prime Ministers of the nation should not be hailing from IS’HAQ or HAWIYE clans. Abdirezak’s behavior at the meeting was a typical of the mentality of a power obsessed, demagogue; an autocratic tribalistic individual with no respect for the rest of Somali society.
A few samples of Abdirezak’s memorable quotes will shed some light on the personality of the former prime minister:
AA- “The Isaaq rebelled against the government of Mohamed Siyad Barre when he suspended the Franco Valuto!” Abdirezak Haji Hussein expounding on the causes of the armed revolt of the people of Somaliland .
BB-“ Economically, they will never survive for too long because all the natural resources of Somalia are located in the South.” Abdirezak: commenting on Somaliland ’s declaration of its nationhood.
CC-“WUXUU AHAA NIN AAN HANTIDIISAA GAARKA AH IYO TAN QRANKU U KALA SOOCANAYN.”
‘HE WAS A MAN WHO COULD NOT DISTINGUISH BETWEEN HIS PRIVATE WEALTH AND THE PUBLIC TREASURY.’
The Former Prime Minister made the above statement live on the Somali section of the British Broadcasting Corporation during the death of the President of Somaliland Republic, the late Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal in May 2003. A human being with that kind of morality cannot and should not be a role model for our future generations.
We can infer from the statements that the life of Mr. Abdirezak Haji Hussein that his primary concern in life is wealth.
It is human ingenuity that creates sustainable wealth; governments facilitate a conducive environment to nurture these activities through favorable legislation.
However, with the swearing in of the administration of Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke and Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, the cross border forays of the Somali National Army into Ethiopia and Kenya ceased immediately. Finally, the Somali inhabited regions of Kenya and Ethiopia felt a sense of peace and a sigh of relief. The belligerence of the Somali Republic was over. For the first time, peaceful coexistence replaced the old irredentist foreign policy of the Somali Republic of Adam Abdallah Osman and Abdirezak Haji Hussein.
The following poem by Ahmed Ismail Diriye “Qassim” is a graphic description of the political atmosphere prevailing at the time of change of governments on June 10 th 1967 . This poem is a fare well to a dark chapter in contemporary Somali politics and at the same time the welcome of a much-anticipated dawn of a new era. The invisible hand of the devil scuttled the expectations of the public. Thirty-one months later, the journey on the road to damnation began in earnest. The underlined qualifiers of this poem and the characters associated with them is a sufficient enough proof of the sorry state of Somalia at that particular juncture. Poetry is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our language. The richness and the beauty is a personification of our unique cultural environment. I share with you Mr. Qassim’s famous poem NAXARIIS:
Niyad baan u ledayaa hurdada Nassir Naxaroow’e
Nabdigaan ka soo jeedi jirey noogayoo dhacaye
Nasashad a darted baad indhaha nadarka yaabtaae
Naxligii caloosa iyo bogsade nabarradeediiye
Naxariistu waa naca kufriga nidar galkeediiye
Neecaw qaboow iyo dabayl naafaclaa timiye
Nabad iyo naq roob baa bedelay Nayla-jaliyiiye
Nacabkii Ilaah naga kaxee naaqiska ahaaye
Nasiib baannu leenahay haddaan Aadan soo noqonne
Niidii xareedbaa ka timid naanida ahyde
Nuuxnuuxsigi i Ina Catoosh nugul ka soo doogye
Nataaqadii na gaadhiyo lugtii nalaga naafeeyey
Waxa Nacalla-qabihii na baday waa ka noollahaye
Nabsigii wax badan loo dhursugay nacasti soo gaadhye
Nooleba mar uun buu samaha nacam yidhaahdaye
Noolatay yidi-diiladii naxashka saarrade
Mar haddii ninkii geyey kursigii nabadgelyo u fuulay
Nimcadiy o sow Mahad-naq uun lagu negaan mayo.
THE LEGACY OF ADAM ABDALLAH OSMAN:
Dissent and difference of opinion on issues touching the very foundation of the defunct Somali Republic is part of the democratic process. There is always a different version to each and every story. One-sided interpretation of historical facts is an intellectual disservice to the human mind.
In the case of the Somali state, knowledgeable third party sources that recorded and witnessed the birth of the new country and lived amongst us throughout the formative years of the Somali Republic , offer radically different interpretations on matters touching the very constitutional foundation of the nation. The hallmark of the first two administrations does not include competence, integrity and honesty in the persona of the characters; neither was transparency and consensus building a prominent feature of the era; nor was compromise and consultation on all issue of national interest a significant facet of government policy in those days. These characterizations did not apply to the African continent of the 1960- 1990’s, let alone the Somali Republic of Abdirezak’s era.
ADAM ABDALLAH AND THE BIRTH OF THE NEW NATION
The birth of the Somali Republic is the most appropriate starting point. The chronicles and the recollections of a distinguished expert on international and constitutional law is in order. Judge Dr. Haji N.A. Noor Muhammed was at one time an advocate of the Supreme Court of India and a member of the Madras Bar Association. The United Nations Organization opex programme provided the services of this preeminent lawyer to the Somali Republic . The following excerpt is the highlight of a 269-page book titled the development of the constitution of the Somali Republic , a subject not so dear to professor Samater.
“0n 1 July the legislatures of two newly independent states met at Mogadiscio in Joint session and proclaimed the establishment of the Somali Republic . The same day, the president of the legislative assembly of Somalia, Hon. Aden Abdullah Osman, who was elected as the provisional president of the Somali Republic, promulgated the constitution, which was originally prepared for Somalia and from that date the provisional constitution came into force throughout the republic. Some doubts where expressed concerning the legal effects of the instruments relating to the union. The act of the Union of Somalia and Somaliland and Somalia Law 1 of July 1 st 1960 where both drafted in [the] form of bilateral agreements, but neither of them was signed by the representative of Somaliland and Somalia .
The Somalia Act of Union was approved "in principle" but not enacted into the law.”
-The legal opinion of Dr. Haji N.A. Noor Muhammed, Vice-president of the Supreme Court of the Somali Republic .
At the stroke of the pen and without the consent and/or the consultation of the legislature of the first independent Somali state, the Right Honorable Adam Abdallah Osman signed into law the constitution of the former United Nation’s Trust Territory . The president’s action was a blatant disregard of the spirit of the unification process; a hasty, reckless, authoritarianism that eventually set the new nation on a disaster course. We can surmise from the above legal brief that the two acts of union were never reconciled into one legal document. Anagreement in principle does not carry the legal force of an international agreement ratified by duly elected legislatures. Without the ratification of the instruments of unification by the two legislatures, the laws that President Adam Abdallah Osman promulgated on July 1 st 1960 are null, void, illegitimate, and unconstitutional. The question is: were our southern brothers negotiating in faith? The answer is: absolutely not!
Against the back drop of the professor’s assessment and infatuation with the administration of president Adam Abdallah Osman and his two prime ministers, the imperative conclusion here is: that out side of Mudug and Majertenia, the Somali Republic of 1960-1967 was a morally bankrupt enterprise. In short, the trademark of that whole era was CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM, FAVOURATISM, CLANISM; and an INEPT administration that emptied the national treasury.
The fact of the matter is: Somaliland , without reservation or preconditions, was the only entity that fulfilled its legal and moral obligations towards the realization of Greater Somalia . No other Somali inhabited region even comes a distant second! Today, it is up to Somalia , Djibouti , the Northern Frontier District, and the Hararghe region of Ethiopia to resurrect the dream of Greater Somalia.
The following is the chronology of events of 30 th June - 1 st July 1960 from the perspective of a historian/anthropologist. The observations and the conclusions are identical to the preceding legal opinion of judge Noor:
“At midnight of June 30th Somalia became independent under terms, of its own constitution. On July 1st, 1960 , the two legislatures met to elect a provisional president of the Somali republic, though no act of union had been signed. The president has immediately signed a decree entitled the “law of union of state of Somaliland and Somalia ". It was not promulgated since it had not been passed by the national Assembly.
Once again, president Adam Abdallah Osman bypassed all rules of parliamentary procedure and signed laws that have no legal validity today. Strangely enough, the constitution of the former Italian colony clearly delineates the jurisdictional authority of the three branches of government. Where is the respect for the law making branch of the state? On this matter of national interest, the president made a unilateral decision regardless of the consequences AND HALF A CENTURY LATER, that legacy is haunting us through no fault of ours at all.
“Discrepancy between the two texts were such that on June 30 th 1960 the Somaliland Legislature, whilst agreeing in principle to act of union, insisted that the two Governments agree to the text of single act of union to be presented for approval of the joint legislatures.”
The existence of two separate texts of Acts of Union and the absence of unified single text ratified by the two legislatures was not an inadvertent legal mishap? Certainly, that was a deliberate act on the part of the president along with the rest of southern politicians. In hindsight, the unification of the country was a matter of no paramount importance to the politicians of the former United Nation’s Trust Territory . The provisional constitution signed by President Adam Abdallah Osman was entirely that of the former Italian colony with the exception of two articles dealing with the pay scales and the pensions of the civil service. These two articles were added at the insistence of the delegation of the government of Somaliland on the eve of independence of the former Italian colony. The texts of the two-draft “Acts of Union”-one prepared in Italian and the other in English- were never combined into a final version agreeable to the parliaments of the two newly independent states. The union was an agreement in principle or a bilateral agreement that had never been transformed or enacted into a binding law through parliamentary debate.
“The new constitution was promulgated, but not before a dramatic military coup d’etat in the North had unsuccessfully attempted to restore sovereignty of Somaliland . The senior officers were brought to trial in Mogadishu before a British judge on charges of treason. He acquitted the officers because he had no jurisdiction over Somaliland . There had been no act of union between the two states.”
“A consultative commission for integration was then appointed and its findings were subject to a referendum held on June 20 th 1961 . The Somali national league, the principal party of the north campaigned against the ratification of the constitution. Percentage votes against were:
Hargeysa (72%), Berbera (69%), Burao (66%) and Erigavo (69%). The total number of votes cast in Somalia as whole was said to be 1, 952,660 out of which 100,000 votes were said to have been recorded in the North.” - Richard Drysdale, on the union of Somaliland and Somalia .
The consultative commission recommended a massive cross-transfer of both civilian and military personnel that continued till 1965. This was a process of assimilation and eradication of the historical records of Somaliland .
The governor of Hargeysa, Colonel Bile Rafle, burned the geological and hydrology surveys of Somaliland , and bulldozed the old cemeteries of the city. That was a sacrilegious act incompatible with the tenets of Islamic jurisprudence. Disturbing the graves of the dead is morally repugnant.
THE UNEXPECTED CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS OF DEC. 1O 1961
On December 10 th 1961 , The Somaliland Scouts Regiment headed by the late colonel Hassan Abdille “Walanwal”, staged a coup to reclaim the independence and statehood. However, the attempt failed and the officers were transferred to Mogadiscio to face high treason charges. The Chief Justice of the Somaliland Supreme Court [Maxkamadda Goodirka], along with the criminal justice documents [the Indian Penal Code], was also moved to Mogadiscio.
The Indian Penal Code carries the death penalty and the government’s case rested on that alone. Unfortunately, this penal code was not part of the criminal justice systems of the Somali Republic or the constitution of the nation that came into existence on July 1 st 1960 .
The oddity of this case, as the preceding sections show, is that neither the legal nor the criminal justice systems of the two newly independent nations were properly integrated. The Somali Government set up a special tribunal for the occasion and assembled an impressive team of Italian criminal and constitutional lawyers headed by a Mr. Continni.
The defendant’s families on their part hired an equally qualified team of defense lawyers headed by Mr. Kapilla/Mr. Singh. These prominent defense lawyers shook the Somali Republic to its constitutional foundation.
The other peculiarity during the proceedings was the amount of translation involved in the case. The prosecution conducted their business in Italian language; the defense in English and it is not clear whether the Chief Magistrate AND THE DEFENDENTS followed or understood the acrobatics of the Italian lawyers headed by a Mr. Continni. The atmosphere in side the courtroom was atypical of modern daytime soap opera! The case dragged on for a long time. When the British Magistrate finally issued his famous verdict in1963 the Somali government was in for a surprise and the judge was ordered to leave the country within twelve hours.
This was the final verdict of The British Magistrate who presided over the high treason case of the Somaliland Scouts. Finally issued the following verdict in Mogadiscio, 1963:
“In the administration of the criminal justice system on matters of high treason, the oath of allegiance is paramount in the case of military officers, which ascertains the citizenship of the accused. As of today, the constitution of the Somali republic has no jurisdictional validity beyond the boundaries of the former Italian colony. Without first establishing a proper legal entity incorporating a union of the two former colonies, the current constitution of the Somali republic is not applicable to any citizen of the former British colony.
On the matter of the documents or instruments presented to the court, the Indian penal code in fact carries the death penalty. However, these documents are valid only within the territory of the former British colony.
Therefore, the documents do not constitute an integral part of the criminal justice system of the Somali republic.
The accused never made an oath of allegiance to a nation called the Somali republic. Therefore, they are not citizens of the Somali republic (the prosecuting nation) yet. Consequently, they were cleared of all criminal charges- including that of hightreason.”
The government of the Somali Republic lost this historic on purely legal and constitutional ground; not on a technicality, as some contemporary historians want us to believe. The officers were exonerated of any treason charges. The criminal justice system based on the Indian Penal Code stipulates that the loosing party in such litigation absorbs the court costs of the winner. Therefore, at the end of the case, the Somali Republic had no choice but to bear the full cost. There was no government benevolence on the part of the government and the interior minister is quoted to have said: “They will be shot to death and no one will ever see them again alive.”
The years 1960-1967 symbolize a dark chapter in modern Somali history and those who glorify the dark ages, we should say, keep up the crusade till you find a receptive audience.
December 29 th 2005
Mr. Ahmed Ismail Diriye,
The Poem: NAXARIIS, www.hoygasuugaanta.com