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Rayale Is Making The Same Mistake The SNM Made In The Nineties
When it comes to human rights, Somaliland fares well compared to neighboring countries. For example, prisoners are not tortured or murdered in Somaliland’s jails. As a matter of fact, the country did not have any political prisoners until about three weeks ago. Nevertheless, there has been a steady and unmistakable deterioration in the human rights situation in the country. The problem has two levels: the symbolic and the substantive. On a symbolic level, when Somalilanders elected President Rayale, they knew he was a former member of Siyad Barre’s notorious National Security Service (NSS), but they voted for him anyway because they also knew that he was a former vice-president of independent Somaliland who, along with President Egal, contributed to establishing peace and stability in Somaliland. Thus by voting for Rayale, most of the electorate was voting for Rayale the former president of Somaliland, and not Rayale the former NSS colonel.
President Rayale seemed to understand that and acted accordingly by projecting himself as the person who is capable of keeping Somaliland stable and pursuing international recognition. But recently, it looks like Rayale has changed his mind and instead of acting like the former vice president that the electorate voted for, he is acting more and more like the former NSS colonel that the electorate wanted to forget about. In other words, instead of acting like the new Rayale, he is acting like the old Rayale.
On a substantive level, Rayale’s turn-around is highlighted by a series of actions chief among which is the appointing of former NSS spies to sensitive positions in his administration, and subverting the legal system until it has become no more than an instrument that carries out his wishes.
Early this year, we saw this old Rayale using old NSS methods to put Haatuf Media Network journalists behind bars simply because they dared to write about his corruption.
Late last month, we saw this same old Rayale again in action when he arrested and detained three Qaran party leaders and two community elders because of a constitutional dispute.
Some of the features of these NSS methods that President Rayale’s government deployed against Haatuf Media Network journalists a few months ago, which it is now using against QARAN party leaders are:
- The government has refused the defendant’s bail even though it is highly unlikely that they would skip bail
- The government made it very difficult for the families and friends of the prisoners to visit them by requiring them to get permission from several government offices
- The government has instituted extra police and security controls on the roads leading to the jail where QARAN leaders are being held, with the aim of harassing people who want to visit Qaran leaders
- The case is being tried inside a police/custodial complex
President Rayale’s refusal to act like the president that the people voted for, and his backsliding into the role of an NSS officer is a huge mistake, and it may cost him dearly. The irony here is that Rayale is making the same mistake that his erstwhile SNM opponents made in the early nineties. Back then, the SNM had a mandate to be the governing authority in Somaliland. But instead of getting down to the serious business of governing, they indulged in authoritarianism, arrogance and constant feuding, until finally, the people got fed up with them and put the reins of power in the hands of Egal.
Something similar may be happening now in Somaliland, but the results won’t be known until the next elections, a few months from now. If Rayale suffers the same fate as the SNM, he will have no one to blame but himself, just like the SNM.
Source: Somaliland Times