|Zooming into the Past|
‘Umar Mu’allim: The Country Needs a Change
SPM Foreign Affairs Spokesman Interviewed
London BBC World Service in English 1709 GMT 26 Oct 89
[From the “Focus on Africa” program]
[Text] While President Siyaad Barre’s government in Somalia may seem to be beleaguered with rebel movements active in both the north and the south of the country, the opposition itself is split and fragmented with much quarrelling among different factions. In spite of that (‘Umar Mu’allim), the foreign affairs spokesman of the newest rebel groups, the largely Ogadeni Somali Patriotic Movement [SPM], that sprang into existence in southern Somalia some 3 months ago, has issued an appeal today to all opposition groups to get together and form a united front against President Siyaad’s regime. On the line to Yemen, Robin White asked (‘Umar Mu’allim) if he thought his appeal could succeed.
[Begin recording] [(Mu’allim)] Well, I think so because I have had quite a number of contacts with the various movements and I think all of them or most of them are inclined that they see the reason of keeping together because no one single movement can free the country or dislodge Siyaad’s regime.
[White] Why don’t you talk to Siyaad Barre himself? He says he is willing to talk to you.
[(Mu’allim)] Well, I think now we have reached a point where people are all disenchanted with whatever Siyaad promised and what we want to stress is to order in our situation and see how we can do otherwise without Siyaad.
[White] Now, where are you suggesting that all your opposition groups might meet?
[(Mu’allim)] This is something to be decided by the first preparatory group that meet and (? forthwith) to approach governments that are willing to host our meeting. It is not something that we can decide because the world is not ours. So, I think we have to first get together and make our agenda and then approach friendly countries and see how they can assist us and give us hospitality.
[White] Have you asked the Kenyan Government?
[(Mu’allim)] Not yet, because [words indistinct] are still premature.
[White] But when you are talking about cooperating together, what do you mean? Do you mean cooperating militarily or politically or what exactly do you mean?
[(Mu’allim)] Well, I think that thing will have to have two aspects. One is that the military [struggle] has to go on, because we don’t think that if the military stop there Siyaad will ever leave the country. Another thing is practically to come up with a logical and political program as to what way we want to handle Somalia after Siyaad.
[White] Isn’t that the truth of the matter though, is that all you opposition movements are just destroying the country? At the moment you are not contributing a lot to its future.
[(Mu’allim)] Well, Mr. Robin White, this is the way Mr. Siyaad has planned [words indistinct]. This is the way he organized and the people are beginning to realize. The country is all now fed up with this regime that has lasted so long. The fact that some people fighting in the north, others are fighting in the south and at the center is only accidental and, unfortunately, the outside world misconstrues this as a tribal warfare that has no justification. But that is not the case. The country wants a change. Siyaad is not willing to concede that change after 20 years and a disastrous economic and political situation. So things have reached this point whereby now the people have to turn and see what else has to be done.