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Elders Accuse Rayale of Corrupting The Clan System
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 27, 2007 (SL Times) – Prominent traditional leaders of the Sa’ad Musse clan have condemned what they call attempts by Somaliland president Rayale to involve the clan system in the case of detained Haatuf newspaper journalists.
Haatuf publisher Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, editor Ali Abdi Dini and Borama correspondent Mohamed Omar were arrested earlier this month in connection with the publication of a series of articles exposing corruption by president Rayale and his wife Huda Barkhad.
Dini, Omar and a third journalist, Haatuf investigative reporter Mohamed Rashid Farah who is still in hiding, have been charged with defamation of president Rayale.
The Sa’ad Mussa elders were angered by a statement issued in the name of the tribe by individuals claiming to represent its various sub-clans who attended a government sponsored meeting held at the Maansoor on last Tuesday.
The statement which was read at the end of the meeting by Rashid Jama Dheri expressed the Sa’ad Mussa tribe’s deep regret over the publication of articles defaming the president and his wife by Haatuf.
According to the statement, the attendants of the Maansoor meeting offered their apologies to the president and his wife about what they termed as Haatuf’s mudslinging and defamation campaign against the president and first lady Huda Barkhad.
The meeting which was organized by senior government officials who hail from the tribe including minister of Interior Abdillahi Ismail Shabeel, minister of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Abshir A. Hassan and Hargeysa region governor Ali-Asad.
The full names of 150 people were listed and attached to the statement as signatories. However the majority of those listed denied attending the Maansoor meeting or being signatory to its statement.
At a well attended gathering held at the Rasun hotel the following Wednesday, Sa’ad Mussa clan leaders rose one after another to disassociate themselves from the Maansoor meeting and the content of its statement.
“Haatuf is an independent national newspaper that doesn’t represent any tribe and is not accountable to any clan. It seems that there is no longer anything that the president wouldn’t be able to corrupt including our clan system,” said Mohamed Abdi Arabay, one of the prominent leaders who spoke at the Rasun meeting.
Osman Hurriye who spoke on behalf of the tribal chiefs accused the government of manipulating tradition laws and values. “If the journalists have done something wrong it is for the court to decide but it is not the business of the clan to apologize on behalf of a journal.”
Chief Osman said that if the government doesn’t have a case it should apologize to the journalists it has detained and not vive versa.
Meanwhile the Hargeysa Court of Appeals on Tuesday endorsed a decision reached by the regional court on January 13, 2007 dismissing an objection filed by the defense against adjudication of the defamation charges brought by the president against Haatuf journalists in accordance with Somalia’s penal law instead of the Somaliland press law.
Following the court of appeals decision upholding prosecution of the four journalists in the basis of Somalia’s penal code, the defendants have now appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding that they be tried along the Somaliland press law.
The reason why the president has been interested in the application of the penal code is said to be related to the fact that the press law doesn’t provide for the imprisonment of journalists.
Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini were arrested on January 2, 2007 after armed police men stormed into Haatuf headquarters in Hargeysa without a court warrant. Haatuf correspondent Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim was arrested on January 14, 2007 in Borama.
Gabobe and Dini are now allowed to be visited by relatives and friends. Although their lawyers have been barred visiting them.
Meanwhile Mohamed Omar is still being kept in a solitary confinement in Kood-buur police station. He has not been allowed visits since his transfer from Borama to Kood-buur police station in Hargeysa. Representatives of human rights organizations who wanted to visit were turned back by the police. Despite obtaining a court order to see him defense lawyers were denied access.
Source: Somaliland Times