It is the duty of every Somalilander to have a self-reflective approach and to be aware of any actions he or she takes or any words he or she utters that could be detrimental to our nation building efforts. This applies to clan elders as much as it applies to the President, you and I alike. At the same time, the President, law enforcement and others who are put in place to govern while observing the law and the constitution should be self-critical of their actions. First, they should be accountable to themselves before they are accountable to us. And if we happen to have people in Somaliland who do not ascribe to the notion of Republic of Somaliland’s aspirations they have every right to peacefully debate and express their stance as long as they do that peacefully without invoking hatred or aggression.
I believe that – a Naima Qorane’s view and miscalculations of a clan elder /leader – Boqor Buurmadow–will not change the existence of Somaliland and have only re-affirmed my view.
What is the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law
The litmus test for a good and healthy democracy is one in which Rule of Law is fully implemented. It means that those that govern and have roles in the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary branch of Government do not enjoy any rights different to those who do not have an active role in those branches. There ought to be no favouritism, no bias and the law of the land is the instrument for resolving disputes in courts. It boils down to no special privileges are conferred on any one.
At the other end of the spectrum of governing a country is to Rule by Law. In this context, those who are ‘Sovereign’ are purely in the game for self-enrichment, if not for themselves they are there, at the behest of their superior.
The law is an instrument to put one against one another, to extort and to keep the citizens in check. Rule by Law in its absolute form is akin to dictatorship. However, it has evolved over the years and countries that even have what represent free and fair elections have succumbed. Rule by Law is pernicious and is damaging to a country. The indicators for Rule by Law is nepotism, corruption and income & wealth inequality to mention but a few. In a Rule by Law, the governments does not govern because it believes laws and rules are sacrosanct, it governs because it is convenient to do so and inconvenient not do so as it uses the law as a tool to serve itself.
The recent imprisonment of Naima Qorane made me think that Somaliland has not changed if we were to measure against the above. It is obvious that the indicators of Rule by Law are excessive and rife in Somaliland. There is a lot of corruption fueled by clannism and nepotism. The imprisonment of Naima Qorane- irrespective of what she said about Somaliland as she came to visit her ill father- made me feel this and yet again underscored Somaliland’s every growing untameable beast of Rule by Law. My view was halted and might be overturned as we now learn that Boqor Buurmadow has received a prison sentence of 5 years. I applaud the President so far not to get involved and let the judiciary take their independent role, I hope the President and (tribe) Politics steer away to let this have its own course without interference from those who govern the country. It was also refreshing and giving me a hope for bolstering Rule of Law as the popular view would have been the hidden hand of ‘’Jeeganta ‘’ will somehow ensure a free passage for Boqor Buurmadow.
What is the Alternative
The government needs to be aware of their actions and its wider implications to nation building. It should not rush into imprisoning people for what they have said about Somaliland or their view on this beautiful country. Instead it should undertake a different strategy. A strategy that serves the nation and its people, one that always ensures we put our noble cause at the heart of everything we do- even if an iota of decision making will serve the nation. The easiest route is to win hearts and minds by – not inviting those opponents to Somaliland’s special case for tea but- a debate that Somaliland was a country before Somalia and will continue to exist no matter what!!! In the worst cases a fine will act as a deterrent; only applied if all avenues have been exhausted. Needless to say a prison sentence should only be applied where there is a solid proof of aggression, acts of violence and vandalism. Rule of law must be implemented and an overhaul needs to be made to ensure that departments and branches of governing that are failing are addressed and improved.
It seems there is no desire or there is a wilful neglect when it comes to balances and checks on the executive and legislature.
The Guurti has become hereditary and is no longer fit for purpose if Rule of Law is to be implemented. Most members of the Guurti do not have a formal education and often they have been there since the reclamation of The Republic of Somaliland’s sovereignty. Those who are relatively new have inherited as their fathers have passed away and a post had become vacant. The Guurti was an excellent vehicle for conflict resolution at the time of dire conflict but it is not fit for purpose for the current geopolitical paradigm to take the nation forward and to ensure the political apparatus is conducive to the application of Rule of Law.
We have briefly looked at two current cases – that of Naima Qorane and Boqor Buurmadow- to assess the current state of affairs in the aspirations of becoming a fully-fledged democracy. It seems since Somaliland had reclaimed its sovereignty, the status quo was never profoundly challenged and a lot of hallmarks of Rule by Law are evident. It is true that Somaliland does not act as a dictatorial regime, however corruption and tribalism has the nation at a crossroads. It is a catch -22 situation for any President as the insatiable monster in the form of corruption infinitely feeds off nepotism and tribalism.
Anyone who is part of the government and who attempts to challenge the status quo will find themselves in a lonely and cold place.
Therefore, the public must change, we must fight political tribalism in all its shapes and forms to put an end to corruption. The political system (legislature, executive and judiciary) needs to be re-assessed and where necessary an overhaul needs to be made. Holding elections every 5 years is a futile effort if the foundation (political system) is subjugated to a state with inefficiencies, inequalities and imbalances.
Ahmed D. Yusuf-Tahar,
Member of UK SII Team