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“The National Election Commission Has Been Ousted In A Bloodless Coup”NEC Chairman
Hargeysa, Somaliland, March 3, 2007 (SL Times) – The government of President Dahir Rayale Kahin broke into the National Election commission (NEC) headquarters yesterday morning and took control of all the equipment, documents in the office complex.
In a radio BBC Somali service interview broadcasted last night, the National Election Commission Chairman, Mr Ahmed Haji Ali (Adami) said that the NEC has been deposed in a coup d'état staged by the government. Mr Adami added, “the government broke into the NEC headquarters and forcefully took possession of its offices and properties in a bid to force the current NEC committee out of office. Yesterday [last Thursday], we (NEC) received a letter from the president informing us to immediately transfer the powers of the NEC committee to the General Auditor, the Chief Accountant of the ministry of finance and the Chairman of the government agency of state employees.”
Mr Adami explained, “the president in his letter said if we don’t comply with his instructions, he will have no alternative but to enforce the law against us. We were shocked by the language used by the president.”
“On Friday morning I was made aware that the NEC headquarters was overtaken by the government and went to investigate. On arriving, I immediately saw that the entire complex and offices of the NEC was overridden by civil servants of the government. It was then that I was informed that I was no longer the chairman of the NEC and was not in charge of the organization.”
An irate Adami characterized the government’s action as unconstitutional and in contravention of democratic principles that Somalilanders have been nurturing in their country.
“How can civil servants working for the government take charge of the NEC? The NEC is an institution comprised of many stakeholders, and the government is only one of them,” the chairman of NEC asked.
The BBC interviewer pointed out, “Obviously, as the chair of NEC, you have every right to be angry about what has taken place. Nevertheless, you are aware of the recent quarrel born out of the lower house of parliament’s rejection of the new 6 member committee of the new commission which the president submitted for endorsement by parliament, and the president in turn refused to approve parliament’s extension of the old commission’s term which expired last January 07 and was renewed for another two years by parliament. Is it not the case that you or the old NEC simply want to hang on to the NEC?”
The chairman of NEC replied, “No we don’t want to hang on to the NEC. On the contrary, we simply want to adhere to the laws and regulations which require us to surrender the NEC to a new body of elected committee members, representing all stakeholders.”
Adami emphatically denied that they are unwilling to cooperate With the president. He said that they saw the president and talked for considerable time over this issue. The chair of NEC asserted that they made it clear to the president the only way that they can transfer the NEC responsibilities is when another new 7 member committee (2 members from the opposition, 2 from the upper house of parliament and 3 members appointed by the president), is endorsed by the lower house of parliament.
Mr Adami stressed that only 6 new members were submitted by the president to parliament instead of the prescribed 7 member committee team of the new commission, and for this reason the house of parliament refused to endorse the new commission. “Kulmiye party,” Adami said, “refused to submit their nominee to parliament, protesting that the president had interfered with the upper house’s nominees, and for this reason the new commission was one member short of the legal and binding 7 member team of the commission.”
The NEC chair went on to elaborate that he was not angry but bitter at the way the president is damaging the democratic culture which we have worked so hard to attain over the years. He said, “I am bitter at the blatant illegal action taken by the government. We have earned a good name and have been praised in all corners of the world for our democratic institutions and culture; we have become the envy of the world. It’s the loss of these achievements, and much more, that makes me bitter.”
The NEC chairman concluded: “I am truly nervous and worried about what is going to happen next in this nation. This is what worries me the most. The government today is the single stakeholder in the NEC, and this is against all democratic norms and principles.
The NEC is an institution that should be made up of the political parties, the upper house of parliament, the government and the lower house of parliament. It is an independent institution at par with the executive branches of the government and parliament. How can it then be possible for the government to take over the NEC as it has done.”
Meanwhile, late Friday night, the NEC committee members issued a 2 page press statement which stated:
• On 01/03/07 the NEC received a letter addressed to the commission from the president Dahir Rayale Kahin
• The president in his letter issued a threat to the NEC if it refuses to surrender the commission’s mandate
• The president’s threat has harmed the conciliatory stance taken by the NEC and the president in last week’s meeting
• The NEC is not a branch of the executive government. It is an independent organization and cannot be partial to any body or group as stated in the Election Bill of Somaliland Act 11 clause 6 (Law L20/2001)
• The NEC cannot appropriate or surrender to any body or party. It is an entity which suffixes as Moral Authority
The NEC is duty bound to adhere:
1. The continuity of the current commission’s 2 year term endorsed by parliament in extension of its previous expired 5 year term which terminated on 21/01/07.
2. The NEC is bound to the points raised in the letter addressed to the president on 22/02/07 (KDQ/21-00/359/07
3. We the NEC committee members hereby vow not to surrender the NEC mandate until there is a newly elected 7 member commission committee which has been processed accordingly by the constitution and Election Law and all the party stakeholders.
4. We the NEC are prepared to do everything in our power, even if this means sacrificing our lives to safeguard the democratic rights of the institutions of the country and for all those reasons fought for in the struggle against dictatorial, tyrant and undemocratic regimes.
We the NEC call on the Lower and Upper houses of parliament, the political parties, the media, the civil societies and the public of Somaliland to defend their democratic institutions and establishments which have come under attack and threat by those who have conspired to derail the democratic path the nation has embarked upon in the 2001 referendum, which was the cornerstone of our democracy.
The Somaliland Times can confirm that the NEC’s concerns about the government’s increasing dictatorial tendencies are shared by a lot of Somalilanders. Our sister newspaper, Haatuf has been victimized by Rayale’s governments which thinks that it is above the law and can do and say whatever it pleases. Just to give one example, Somaliland’s government-controlled TV announced that the NEC has officially transferred its mandate, when in fact no such transfer took place.
Source: Somaliland Times
Past news items relating to this story in Somaliland Times:
Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 24, 2007 (SL Times) – The President of Somaliland Dahir Rayale Kahin in a meeting held last Wednesday in his office with the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA) stated that his government was fully committed to observing the Press Law and he is willing to pardon the Haatuf journalists who are in Mandera prison, if they are found guilty by the court handling their case.
New York, February 14, 2007 – The National Union of Somali Journalists is deeply concerned the situation of detained Haatuf journalists following the resignation of a member of the two lawyers of the imprisoned media people, who are behind the bars in the 6 th week. The three personnel of the Haatuf Media Network, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe (Managing Editor), Ali Abdi Dini (Editor in chief) and Mohammed Omar (Borama reporter) were transferred to Mandhera detention centre, near port town of Barbara. Another Haatuf journalist is also charged in absentia.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 17, 2007 (SL Times) - The Somaliland Supreme Court issued a court injunction last Wednesday against the Hargeysa Regional Court from continuing Haatuf journalist's trial proceedings until the Supreme Court reaches a verdict on the appeal submitted by the defense lawyers of the Haatuf journalists.
Paris, February 7, 2007 – Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its appeal to the authorities in the northern breakaway state of Somaliland to release three newspaper journalists who have been held for several weeks and have just been moved from the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa to a provincial prison.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 3, 2007 (SL Times) – SNM veterans called on the government to release the detained Haatuf journalists on Thursday.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, February 3, 2007 (SL Times) – Two ex-combatants who fought for the Somali National Movement's liberation struggle against Somalia's late dictator Siyad Barre in the 1980s, were arrested in Hargeysa by the Somaliland police.
London, February 2, 2007 – Three journalists employed by Somaliland's independent Haatuf Media Network have been arrested and charged as a result of their work. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful freedom of expression.
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.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, 27 January 2007 (SL Times) - Haatuf Newspaper’s series of articles alleging corruption by President Dahir Rayale and his wife Huda Barkhad were published in 17 different editions starting from November 24, 2006. The last piece appeared on January 2, 2007, and in the same day Haatuf publisher Yusuf A. Gabobe and editor Ali Abdi Dini were arrested in connection with these articles.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 27, 2007 (SL Times) – Lawyers defending Haatuf journalists who have been held in detention since early this month by Somaliland’s CID said, the Chief of CID Suleiman Muse Hassan has denied visitation to their clients.
The raid of Haatuf newspaper premises
The Republic of Somaliland has a free and thriving press, but this is often marred by the occasional detention of journalists 1 on the orders of the government or its regional representatives.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 20, 2007 (SL Times) – The Somaliland’s House of the Representative’s select committee on Judicial affairs on Thursday held a hearing in which the chairman of the Supreme Court, Mohamed Hirsi Omane was questioned with regard to a Hargeysa Regional Court ruling that allowed 3 detained Journalists from the Haatuf Newspaper to be prosecuted under the penal code of Somalia instead of the country’s press law
Paris, 18 January 2007
Dear Mr. President,
Justice has played very little role in what has happened with the newspaper Haatuf. Ever since the arrest of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini, the entire case has been marked by unfairness, procedural irregularities, personal revenge and the denial of democratic principles.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 20, 2007 (SL Times) – A group of journalists led by the Secretary General of Somaliland's Society for Independent Journalists and Writers visited five youth who were sentenced to six months imprisonment by the regional Hargeysa Security Committee last week for taking part in the Hargeysa demonstration, which happened on Jan. 8, 2007.
The New York based CPJ
New York, January 18, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling by a court in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland on Wednesday to try three jailed journalists under archaic criminal laws in connection with a story critical of the president.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 13, 2007 (SL Times) – Haatuf Media Network (HMN) chairman/editor of Somaliland Times Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and the editor of the Somali language Haatuf newspaper, Ali Abdi Dini appeared for their first Hargeysa Regional Court hearing last Thursday.
Hargeysa, Somaliland, January 13, 2007 (SL Times) – Mr. Kayse Ahmed Osman, a close friend of the detained Haatuf Media network journalists, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini was arrested while visiting the detained journalists inside the CID Hargeysa compound on Friday, 12/01/07.
Hargeysa, Somaliland. Jan 6, 2007, (SL Times) – Forty heavily armed police and C.I.D officers stormed the offices of Haatuf Media Network (HMN) on Tuesday afternoon and arrested the chairman of HMN, Mr Yusuf Abdi Gabobe who is also the editor of Somaliland Times and the editor of the Somali language Haatuf daily newspaper, Mr Ali Abdi Dini and the chief accountant for HMN, Mr. Hussein Khalif Abdullahi who sustained minor injuries while being arrested. Mr. Hussien Khalif was released 3 hours later.
New York, January 3, 2007-Police in the northern self-declared republic of Somaliland stormed the offices of the Somali-language daily Haatuf late Tuesday and seized two journalists over an article alleging corruption by the president’s wife, according to local media reports and local journalists. Managing editor Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and editor Ali Abdi Dini have been held for questioning at the offices of the Criminal Investigation Department in Hargeysa
Paris January 4, 2007, -Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrests of journalists in recent days in the northern breakaway state of Somaliland.