SOMALIA: Why President Farole needs not to take lightly to reconcile with his people

Published: August 16, 2010

I remember at the tender age of 28, barley two years after my graduation from Poona University in India, I was the acting Director at the Somali Affairs Department in the Foreign Ministry when on 29 October, 1983 at a Turkish Republic day reception on the grounds of the Turkish embassy in Mogadishu, I met once again Robert Oakley, the then US ambassador to Somalia.
After severing relations with the Soviet Union, in the 1980s, the US was Somalia’s biggest ally and Robert Oakley, a highly decorated and able US ambassador was very much dedicated to building bilateral relationships between the two nations. Ambassador Oakley showed a genuine love for Somalia and he came through as a man who had only Somalia’s best interests at heart. This is not untypical of holders of top diplomatic postings. The success of ambassadors’ diplomatic posting can be measured by how many friends they make for their nation and how much they propel their country’s relationship with host nations.
On the evening of 29 October 1983, on the patio of the Turkish embassy, Ambassador Oakley who wished the relationship between the two nations to run at a better pace, shared with me a meeting he had two nights earlier with the head of the state, in which he [Robert Oakley] suggested to former President Mohamed Siyad Barre to reconcile and bring home the SNM (Somali National Movement), which was in the ambassador’s own words “at an early (embryonic) stage of development.” The former leader rebuffed the suggestion by uttering: “We are not going to reconcile with a bunch of bandits.” The rest is history.
We are aware that the militia which is fighting at Galgala in Puntland have themselves little to do with extremist groups such as Al-Shabab. To be precise, they [the militia] are mainly home grown, but they would use, wouldn’t they, any help they can scrape from anyone including Al-Shabab to drive their point home. However, it must be said that members of the militia are mainly disgruntled Puntland citizens who are disillusioned with their administration. They are particularly unhappy with some aspects of President Farole’s “MO” (Modus operandi) which is different from his predecessors.
The Puntland President should not take the resolution of this matter lightly and sleepwalk into something which can cause serious security and social implications for his entity and administration. The threat Puntland is faced with has its nature is atypical of uprising which can grow into a serious threat. He needs to understand that the militia fighting in a small plateau in his entity can bring his government down if not instigate civil war in Puntland. Before it is too late, the President of Puntland needs to think on his feet and extricate himself and his self-administration from the ugly situation. He needs to reconcile with his people before things get out of hand. He should give serious thinking of how to bring the militia home from the plateau.
On another equally serious issue, President Farole has been badly ill-advised to order the arrest of Abdifatah Jama Mire, the Director of Horseed Media in Puntland who was only doing his job by interviewing Sheikh Mohamed Saeed Atam, the militia leader. President Farole should not take lightly the implications the arrest of Abdifatah Jama Mire can bring. You cannot persecute a journalist for interviewing anyone. The continued imprisonment of Abdifatah Jama can cause irreparable damage to President Farole’s authority and administration. He could lose face and standing in the eyes of his people and the International community. He should know better that politics is not the profession for those who have thin skin to criticism.
The Puntland President should act without delay and see to the immediate release of Abdifatah Jama Mire, who should be commended not imprisoned for airing the opinion and misgivings of Sheikh Atam. It should be understood that airing the opinion of the militia leader is in the public interest.  President Farole should act on both issues and treat the matter of reconciling with his people and the release of Abdifatah Jama Mire seriously.
Abdullahi Dool

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