Zooming in Somaliland                           







President Dahir Rayaale






Battles between Rival Clans around Berbera and Hargeysa


London BBC World Service in English

1515 GMT 26 Nov 1992

[From the "Focus on Africa" program]




Somaliland's leader, Abdirahman Tur, has been having a hard time of it recently. His administration and its self-declared independent territory has been losing control of law and order. There have been battles between rival clans around the Port of Berbera and the capital, Hargeysa, and claims that Abdirahman Tur has been fanning the flames. Well, Ahmed Silanyo, the founding chairman of the Somali National Movement [SNM], which established Somaliland, stepped aside in favor of Abdirahman Tur, and he was one of the medi­ators trying to end the fighting between the clans. He is in London at the moment and Robin White asked Ahmed Silanyo if he accepted that there had been a civil war in Somaliland:


[Silanyo] Definitely, I would describe it as a form of civil war, as you said; not as bad as the situation in the south, but all the same it was a form of civil war.


[White] How many people would you estimate died in this fighting?


[Silanyo] I find it very difficult to give any sort of reliable estimate, but I want to guess it might have not been less than 1,000 people all together, you know.


[White] As I understand, it was a kind of power struggle between two clans-the (Sacad Musa) clan and the (Habar Y­onis) clan, and they were all fighting for more influence on the government. Now, has one clan gained more influence at the expense of another in the settlement that you have had?


[Silanyo] I prefer not to put it that way. In my view, this kind of fighting may not actually originate from the clans themselves as such but actually, it basi­cally came from irresponsibility on the part of the government which organized an invasion force from Hargeysa in the Berbera area-officially to bring the country under the control of the government-but by using clan militia from certain clans only and not including this others, and that is how the fighting started and how it broke out. [sentence as heard] But luckily, because of the great deal of effort on the part of many, many people it has now been brought to an end.


[White] So are you blaming the president for the trouble there has been?


[Silanyo] I am aware of those [pauses] ...the president cannot avoid the responsibility. Not the president only, but I think the government in general and, of course, many other people, but basically because the govern­ment was responsible and the actions that were taken­how the fighting was started was by dispatching forces from one area to another, and those forces were not national forces in the true sense of the word. [sentence as heard] So naturally that is how the fighting started and, therefore, they cannot escape the blame.


[White] You supported Abdirahman Tur when he became president. Have you now withdrawn your sup­port from him?


[Silanyo] Indeed, I did support him at the time. Yes. I was not the only one who supported him, but I did give him my support. So, yes, I have withdrawn my support then since because I never thought that things could be as bad as this and when I found out that his leadership was not providing the necessary leadership for the nation, and I particularly-apart from all the other things-I particularly hold this internal strife that the president himself is responsible for it. [sentence as heard] That is why I have withdrawn my support from him.


[White] Are you working to get rid of him as president?


[Silanyo] Not in the sense of getting rid of him. Actually, frankly speaking, I and many other people tried to correct the situation as best we could, and to make sure that stability came back to the country and so on. We tried our (?very) best, and we cooperated with them later on in whatever activity we thought, may be, could save the situation. But in any case, he has not got much time left and...


[White, interrupting] What do you mean by he has not got much time left?


[Silanyo] In the sense that the time for which the transitional government was appointed is due to end in April, but...


[White, interrupting] So there will be fresh elections for a leader then, will there?


[Silanyo] There will be fresh elections for a leadership, for a new leadership. But not only that, but there is going to be another meeting, a national conference which has been called by the elders of the communities of the various countries [as heard] for January 9 in Boramo.


[White] So you think that at this meeting in January he will be forced out, you think?


[Silanyo] I hope to think that a new situation would be created, which [pauses]...Personally (?I would hope) for the safety of our people. (?I hope for it).


[White] But what about yourself? You were once leader of the SNM. Will you be standing for office once you [words indistinct]?


[Silanyo] No, I have made it clear that I have no intention of standing now, at any rate. But certainly, I am willing to give whatever service I can. You know, I behave [pauses] ...I sort of work in many ways as a statesman, and I try to help through with the situation but I am not standing. I have made that very clear.


[White] Do you have any particular person in mind who might take over affairs?


[Silanyo] As I said I don't have any particular person in mind right now. Even if I had, I would not say it right now. [end recording]




Somaliland President Comments on 21 Feb Attack


London BBC World Service in English

1515 GMT 22 Feb 1994

[From the “Focus on Africa” program]




A security situation in the self-declared territory Somaliland is becoming a cause of increasing concern to the SNM [Somali National Movement] Government. In spite of an ultimatum to renegade militias to hand in their weapons, many have set up their own checkpoints to extort money from travelers and last night, an armed attack is reported to have taken place on the residence of Somaliland’s President Mohamed Egal. On the line to Hargeysa, Rageh Omar asked the president what actually happened.


[Egal] What happened.... [pauses] I will tell you exactly what happened. You know, this is Ramadan now. People usually stay up late at night, you know, and some young ex-militia who had had a very pleasant night and a lot to drink, much more than was good for them, were driving in this kind of car and, as they were passing the street before the president’s house, you know, the residence, one of them fired a shot at the gate. The bullet went through the gate and grazed, just grazed, one of the guards who were standing next to the gate, and then they were chased and four of them were arrested and one of them was arrested next morning.


[Omar] So what you are saying is that an attack took place, but it is not as serious as might seem to be the case.


[Egal] They were just five young boys, you know, who had had too much to drink, and as they were passing.... They really did not come here to attack us. They were just passing along the road. One of them, as they were passing the gates of the Presidency, fired the shot.


[Omar] But some people might interpret it as being very, very serious because, as you say, the five men were ex-militias. You have been launching a campaign to demobilize and decamp the militias which are still out on the streets of Hargeysa and other towns in Somali­land, and some of them have been very unhappy about these efforts by you. Could there not be serious sort of, you know, political undertones to the attack?


[Egal] No, I am afraid that is exactly what it is not. You know, there were these young chaps who did not come here to attack. There was no concerted and planned attack on the Presidency. It was just these young boys passing along the street and as they were passing one of them fired that shot and then they ran away. Of course, we are in the middle of this demobilization and disar­mament, but it is not being done against the will of anybody. We are doing it through persuasion, through dialogue, through peaceful means. There are people who describe themselves as opposition here. I do not know what they are opposing. We are now trying to knit together a very, very delicate fabric of a nation which has been completely destroyed.


[Omar] So you will continue to demobilize these soldiers from mounting these custom posts and taking money off people at checkpoints and you will be sleeping very comfortably at the Presidency this evening without worry?


[Egal] Yes, I had been sleeping last night and all the nights before that and I am going to sleep very comfort­ably tonight, too. People might call me a bloody bastard but they will not shoot at me. [end recording]




President Dispatches Troops to Airport, Comments


London BBC World Service in English

1705 GMT 22 Sep 1994

[From the “Focus on Africa” program]


[Text] Since President Mohamed Egal came to power in Somaliland, the country has been relatively calm though internationally unrecognized. He slammed the United Nations UNOSOM [UN Operation Somalia] people out, and a virtual civil war between rival clans has subsided, but a thorn in the flesh of the authorities has been the airport at Hargeysa, which has been under the control of militias. Planes have been flying in and out willy-nilly, and President Egal has apparently decided enough is enough. He is reported to have sent troops to the airport to stop the planes. On the line to Hargeysa, Dan Isaac asked President Egal how many of his soldiers were now at the airport.


[Begin recording) [Egal] I don’t really have exact number but let’s say there are three battalions. I think that in all there might be about three or four, you know, between 300 and 400 soldiers, you know, in three different areas, you know, around the airport.


[Isaac] And what is your plan? To attack the militia at the airport or not?


[Egal] At the moment, you know, I don’t want to [word indistinct] who is it. At the moment, you know, the order of these battalions, you know, is to prevent any aircraft landing at the airport. I don’t want to anticipate anything but we must have the airport in our government control.


[Isaac] So how will you prevent aircraft landing at the airport?


[Egal] Well, yesterday one (?plane was) landing, you know, and there was a warning shot, you know, and I think he had the good sense to go back. This morning, I think again an attempt has been made but both times, you know, I think they have been persuaded that they go back.


[Isaac] Now, who are your soldiers firing or firing warning shots at? Who are these people who are trying to land?


[Egal] They are the Somaliland National Security Force. You know, they are composed of all the ethnic groups, you know, in Somaliland-Bamba, (From), the (Wersen­geli) of the far south, you know, to the (Orisa), you know, in the far north.


[Isaac] Now, also trying to land at the airport on occa­sions must be United Nations planes or humanitarian aid planes. How do you know you are not going to be firing at them?


[Egal] No, now we have provided the United Nations agencies, you know, and the NGO [nongovernmental organization]’s, you know... [pauses] We authorize them an alternative airport for them, you know, at a place, you know, about 30 kilometers on the west of Hargeysa, and they are using that airport, you know. They are not breaking our sanction against this airport. They are not doing that. These are pirate planes which have been hired by individuals, you know, who are being instigated by UNOSOM, you know, and some other forces hostile to Somaliland.


[Isaac] Now, if your forces are firing at what you say are hostile forces trying to land and presumably they all start firing back, is this not rather dangerous escalation in the fighting?


[Egal] We are not attacking anybody in his own home ground. This is our own country, you know, and anybody who fires back at us, you know, is asking for it. You know, I mean, we are not attacking any foreign country, we are just trying to regulate traffic in our own interna­tional airport, you know, and if anybody attacks us or fires at us, well, may the best man win. [end recording]










Somaliland Flag






A Somali trader Shukri Ismail, 46 (R) sells her wares at a big trade fair in the centre of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland


Women line up to vote in Hargeisa during first multiparty parliamentary elections in breakaway Somaliland


U.N. emergency relief coordinator Egeland meets Somaliland President Dahir Ryale Kahin in Hargeisa.





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