Somalilands president Rayaale har Meles Zenawi

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Imprisoned political leaders to be released as elections approach

Thursday, 23 August 2007
Imprisoned political leaders to be released as elections approach

HARGEISA, 22 August 2007 (IRIN) – President Dahir Rayale Kahin of the self-declared republic of Somaliland has agreed to release three leaders of the Qaran organisation who were jailed for setting up a political party unsanctioned by the authorities, officials said.

Ahmed Mohammed Silanyo, chairman of Somaliland’s main authorised opposition group, told IRIN the decision was made after an all-day meeting with a mediation team of religious leaders, human rights activists and local politicians.

The leader of the Qaran party, Mohamed Abdi Gabose, and his two deputies, Hohamed Hashi Elmi and Jamal Aideed, have been held since 28 July in Mandhera prison, 70km outside Hargeisa, on charges of “engaging in unauthorised political activities”.

The government of Somaliland – which is yet to receive international recognition since declaring its independence in 1991 – has limited the number of political parties allowed by its constitution to three, to prevent the kind of clan-based party fragmentation that has plagued southern Somalia since the overthrow of the Siad Barre regime.

The imprisonment of the Qaran party leaders, which came after the government jailed three journalists from the Somali daily newspaper Haatuf earlier this year, had been criticised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It also increased calls within Somaliland for constitutional reform to allow more political parties.

“The immediate detention issue has been solved,” Silanyo said. “But the larger issues of the fate of the Qaran party and other political organisations remains unresolved.”

The government has not announced when the prisoners would be released.

After visiting her husband in Mandhera prison on 21 August, Hibo Abdullahi Hassan, wife of Mohamed Abdi Gabose, said the party members were unsatisfied with the ambiguity of their situation. “Their main concern is the freedom of their party. As long as that is not clear they are not completely happy with the decision,” she said.

Somaliland is scheduled to hold district elections in December this year, and presidential elections in April 2008.

published on Thursday, 23 August 2007
Source: alertnet

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A Letter to President of Somaliland Mr. Riyale, Lord Eric Avebury

   (Lord Eric Avebury)

To: H.E. Dahir Rayale Kahin
The President of the Republic of Somaliland
Hargeisa, Somaliland
Email: sl_victory@yahoo.com sl_victory@hotmail.comThis

Dear Mr President,

As a long term admirer of Somaliland’s record as a beacon of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in a region where these qualities are in short supply, I was alarmed to read of the arrests of Dr Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, Engineer Mohamed Hashi and Mr Jamal Aideed on July 28. These three gentlemen were architects of Somaliland’s freedom, and are surely entitled to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and of association, and the right to take part in the government of their country, which are found in Articles 19-21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst the constitution of Somaliland provides that there shall be only three political parties, there is no law that I am aware of which says that the current three parties will always be the three accepted under the constitution. The constitution like all others also guarantees the right to association and the persons who have been arrested are arguing that they are simply exercising their rights to form a political association and to be given a chance to compete freely to become one of the three political parties allowed under the constitution.

May I respectfully urge you to release the three gentlemen, and to convene a representative assembly to determine how to secure maximum popular participation at the forthcoming elections, by a process that would determine which three parties have the greatest support and whose candidates’ names should therefore appear on the ballot papers. I need hardly emphasise the damage to the cause of Somaliland’s recognition that will result from failure to resolve this problem by discussion and agreement, rather than arbitrary detentions.

In the longer term, Somaliland may wish to consider whether it is necessary to place any constitutional limit on the number of parties. In most democratic countries the electors tend to support just a few parties, though others may put up candidates without harming the process.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Eric Avebury

Hargeysa Airport Gets Commercial Night Flights

Somaliland: Hargeysa Airport Gets Commercial Night Flights
The Addis Ababa bound Ethiopian Airlines passenger ‘Fokker’ airplane became the first ever passenger aircraft to use the newly installed runway lighting system at Hargeysa airport on Thursday night [ 2 August]. The flight took off from the newly lit runway at 7 p.m. local time.

A special reception was held at the airport for this epic first-time night flight. The reception was attended by the Minister of Aviation and Air Transport, Mr Ali Waran-Adde and many other officials, prominent figures and dignitaries. Mr Waran-Adde said that this is a historical moment for the Hargeysa airport which was first built by the British during the 1950s, and that the airport has never witnessed in its 50 odd-years history commercial nighttime flights landing and departing from its runway. The minister pointed out that the runway installation light system took a year to install, and will make it possible for passengers and airlines to use the airport according to their schedules, and that the airport will be in operation 24 hours a day.

Hargeysa airport has witnessed tangible transformation since the appointment of Waran-Adde in August last year as the minister responsible for all airports and air transport.

BBC Monitoring

Somaliland republic arrest 3 politician

Somalia (Reuters) – The government of the breakaway Somali republic of Somaliland on Saturday arrested three politicians planning to form an opposition party, in a move diplomats said could hurt its bid for sovereignty.

Security forces arrested the leader of the Qaran political association, Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, and his deputies Mohamed Hashi Elmi and Jamal Aideed Ibrahim, and charged them with founding an illegal organization and creating instability.

A regional court ordered the three held at Mandera prison.

Somaliland permits by law only three political parties, a situation which Qaran has criticised repeatedly.

It wants voter registration — due earlier this month — to go ahead so that it can gain the numbers it needs to be among the three legally recognised parties ahead of presidential elections due on April 15.

All three existing parties, including that of President Dahir Rayale Kahin, oppose that.

“We strongly condemn the arrest of the leaders of the political organization. We strongly urge that they immediately be released, ” said Mohamed Saed Hirsi, chair of the Somaliland Lawyers’ Association.

The government had no immediate comment.

FUNDS AT RISK

Diplomats say the arrests may put at risk funds which the government hoped to get for local elections due later this year.

“This would obviously jeopardise the democratic process the international community is willing to support, “Said a Nairobi-based diplomat who declined to be named.

“By doing so, Somaliland is probably jeopardising its efforts to gain recognition for its sovereignty.”

Somaliland, in the northwestern corner of Somalia bordering Ethiopia, broke away from the rest of the country in 1991, when warlords overthrew last national president Mohamed Siad Barre.

Since then, the former British Somaliland has pushed for sovereignty on the grounds that it was separate for a few days after independence in 1960 until it joined the former Italian colony of Somalia to form the modern state.

The African Union and its predecessor body have generally preferred to keep nations within the colonial borders at independence to discourage a flood of separatist movements.

Somaliland has won some in the international community to its side, but is still struggling to gain critical mass. It refuses to have anything to do with the interim government in the rest of Somalia, which also claims Somaliland.

Meanwhile in Mogadishu, gunmen late on Friday fired rockets at a hotel housing delegates to a national reconciliation conference seen as the last good chance for the interim government to gain peace and boost its legitimacy.

No casualties were reported.

Insurgents from a militant Islamist movement the government drove out of the capital with Ethiopian help in late December have attacked the conference since its start on July 15, though none has directly hit the venue.