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Inflammatory Remarks By Public Works Minister May Alienate Significant Portion Of Voters
Hargeysa, Somaliland, April 12, 2008 (SL Times) – Inflammatory remarks made on Wednesday by Somaliland’s minister of Public Works against former SNM freedom fighters have drawn fire from leaders of the opposition and the veterans community and may well alienate a significant portion of the electorate from supporting incumbent president Dahir Riyale during next elections.
Complaining angrily that SNM veterans often associate the Riyale government with the repressive state organs that existed under Siyad Barre’s rule, the Public Works minister Saeed Sulub accused the former freedom fighters of harboring feelings of revenge and bitterness towards their compatriots who happened to be on the losing side when the liberation struggle was finally won.
“the SNM had won, but why it should still feel bitter”, he inquired while speaking at a press conference he jointly held in Hargeysa with Finance minister, Awil Ali Duale.
Somaliland president Dahir Riyale served as an officer in the dreaded National Security Service during Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime in the 1970s and 1980s.
The NSS which was modeled on the Russian KGB and the Military Security Organization Hangash were both known as Siyad Barre’s main instruments for committing mass terror and killings.
Many members of President Riyale’s cabinet including Sulub are former NSS officers and the minister of Public Works said that SNM veterans were also pardoned by those whom they fought against.
By referring to the government as a focal point for former NSS and Hangash officers, the veterans are disparaging Somaliland, Sulub said.
Responding to a reporter who reminded him that the SNM waged a legitimate armed resistance in self defense against a ruthless dictatorship, Sulub said “The SNM itself had blood on its hands as it killed [innocent] people.”
Sulub’s statements about the SNM had enraged the veterans of the liberation war.
Three days earlier, government agents cutoff electricity power supply to the “ Freedom Park” where veterans have been commemorating the 27 th anniversary since the SNM was founded.
The statements by the Public Works minister were criticized by the leader of the Justice and Welfare party Faysal Ali Warabe, as a cheap attempt to divert public attention from the bankruptcy of the Riyale government.
“Ministers Awil and Sulub should understand that the game is up. Pitting one clan against another doesn’t work this time. What is at issue is that the government’s term in office is about to expire,” Faysal Ali Warabe said .
Most of the SNM veterans interviewed by The Somaliland Times with regard to Sulub’s remarks, believe that they were unnecessarily provocative and unwarranted.
“The SNM liberated this country from dictatorship, declared amnesty and peace for all and then gave up power in 2 years time. I really don’t know what Saeed Sulub has been up to but I can tell he is desperate about something,” SNM veteran Mohamed Omar said.
Discussions among veterans groups in the two major cities of Hargeysa and Buroa following Sulub’s statements have indicated that the overwhelming majority of the former fighters and their dependents are not going to vote for Riyale in the next elections.
Source: Somaliland Times