kulmiye's crisis and the democracy in somaliland

If Kulmiye does not put his house in order and come up with an agreed Vice President for the forthcoming presidential election, democratic process in Somaliland will suffer a huge damage.

The current crisis of Kulmiye has mainly originated from the leadership contest in Burao party conference, but not entirely from the conference. The election of the Presidential candidate was finally agreed to be Silanyo after a rough ride.

The problem of electing the Vice Presidential candidate plunged the party into unprecedented crisis, resulting that the party has split in the middle. There were three candidates for the Vice Presidential candidacy, Abdirahman Sayli’i, Abdirahman Aw Ali Farah, both from Awdal Region and Ahmed H. Ali Adami from Sanaag Region.

It was clear from the beginning whom was Siilanyo’s favorite among the three contesters and it was Abdirahman Sayli’i. Why Silanyo preferred Abdirahman Sayli’i seemed based on analysis touching different aspects, but the main one was that Silanyo clearly and honestly stated that it is Abdirahman Sayli’i that he can work comfortably with, and this is correct in the ethical and leadership rules in any organizational.

The other two candidates did not accept that and immediately organized their own group within the party to challenge this outcome. Their main argument was that the Burao conference was undemocratic particularly the way in which the Vice Presidential candidate was elected.

After these events, the situation within Kulmiye became an open Pandora Box where “political marketers” trade in and made their political playground. There were several mediations from different walks of life of the community, including the other two political parties, UCID and UDUB.

I am a concerned Somalilander who feels uncomfortable how recent events in Kulmiye‘s party have been developing, because I feel this is damaging the national interest. There is no profit or benefit for anyone for Kulmiye party’s crisis. It is in the interest of the country that the dispute in Kulmiye has to be settled sooner.

Having said this, I would like to contribute this debate with the following observations:

Democracy in Somaliland and its process

Those who are well familiar with the Somaliland democratic process perfectly know that we are not still democrats, but we are trying to build a democratic society. The way we go about this has been, and still is, by using mixture of clan, Islamic and limited democratic methodologies to choose our leaders and to settle our conflicts, and we call these democratic actions, though it is far from democracy.

In connection to this, the argument that Abdirahman Aw Ali and his supporters saying that Burao Kulmiye conference were not democratic loses its validity and credibility in Somaliland political context.

I can quote one main event, during the election of the parliamentary speakers. The Guurti realized the political system of the country tilts decisively to the ruling party, UDUB if the speakers of the parliament also went to the ruling party. The Guurti settled with the well-known formula, by allowing the opposition parties to have had the speaker and its two deputies (Shir-gudoonka).

That day I remember by asking the wise man of the Guurti, H. Abdirkarin (Abdi Warabe) what legal basis of this compromise was based. He said to me, “We did not refer too much on legal basis, but we refer to the political wisdom “xikma” of Somaliland. Because we thought if “shir-gudoonka” also goes to the ruling party, the government will have too much power.” (Xisbu xaakimku haday taa ku darsadaan waxay helayaan doobi buuxa, qolada mucaaridka ahina doobi madhan, markaa taasi nalama aha wax wanaagsan.)

History of Kulmiye Party

If I may go back for a moment to the history of Kulmiye Party, during the Presidential election in 2003, Abdirahman Aw Ali was a member of the Asad Political Organization headed by Suleiman Mohamoud Adem, the current chairman of the Guurti. In Kulmiye at that time, there were four candidates, all from Awdal Region who were competing for the candidacy of the Vice President., including my self For instance, in my case; I was well-prepared for the post. I had just finished my PhD in Political Science from London University (SOAS and LSC) with a professional working experience and political background and being an active supporter of the SNM struggle.

I met Silanyo as soon as he left form Siad Barre’s regime and before he joined the SNM leadership in Addis Ababa. I was Student at London University and a coordinator of a lobbing Group consisting of students and Somali Diaspora in London against the military regime of Siad Barre. We welcomed Silanyo to our group and we gave him a full support in his opposition activities in London. I personally organized for him several lectures in London University (SOAS) where he spoke and explained the atrocities of the regime of Siad Barre. I went with him to Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool for lobbying and support.

After almost a decade, I met Silanyo again for a lunch in London before he established the Kulmiye Party and we had one-to-one lively discussion about the political situation in our country. The Somaliland Diaspora particularly those living in London encouraged me to join Kulmiye Party and give Siilanyo the political and media support and experience that he and the party needed. I came to Hargeisa and joined the party.

Abdi Mohamoud (Gaagaale), now an MP was also among the other three Awdal candidates. Abdi Mohamoud played an important role in the peace making processes in Somaliland particularly in the Awdal region. At that time he was living in the United States, but he came back because of assurance from Kulmiye leadership that he will be selected to be the Vice Presidential candidate. The two others were Abdi Hassan Buni, an elderly statesman and Dr Mohamed Hadi, a professional medical doctor.

To our surprise and maybe to the surprise of the Somaliland political history, Abdirahman Aw Ali mysteriously entered the party from the back door in the last few days before the election date and before our eyes open, Abdirahman Aw Ali was hastily declared the winner as the Vice Presidential candidate of the party.
In my analysis abandoning of the other contesters and the sudden switch of bringing Abdirahman Aw Ali from the back door caused Kulmiye and its leader Silanyo not to win the 2003 Presidential election. This episode left with Silanyo and the Kulmiye party with uncomfortable historical memorial reflections.

In my case, I swallowed my pride, walked out from the party and hoped a good luck for Silanyo and the party, but I still I respect Siilanyo as a Somaliland statesman.

Who engineered this plot by bringing Abdirahman Aw Ali from the back door? It was engineered by the three Mujahiddin Musketeers, Mouse Bihi, Mohamed Kahin and Dhagaweyne. They even convinced the good-hearted Islamic politicians in the party, such as Abdiaziz Mohamed Samaale, whom I had a good relationship with, to their point of view.

I give great respect to Muse Bihi, who frankly told me at that time that he was no longer supporting me and that he switched his support to Abdirahman Aw Ali, because he was his colleague in the trench during the SNM struggle.

Now we have another face of the political history of the Kulmiye Party. The four Mujahiddin musketeers (by the way, the four mujahidins Musketeers have an honourable place in the history of Somaliland because of their contributions to the liberation struggle) are no longer in the same trench. Abdirahman Aw Ali and Dhagaweyne are in the same camp and Mouse Bihi and Mohamed Kahin are supporting Silanyo.


To Ahmed H. Ali Adami & Abdirahman Aw Ali

I consider Mr. Adami a good and productive Somaliland statesman because of his record in Somaliland National Electoral Commission. He ran the commission in a difficult times and he kept his head above all these difficulties sometimes using his humourous potentialities. I advise him to be a good mediator between the two factions of the party and convince Abdirahman Aw Ali group and himself as well to drop their objections and join the rest of the party for the national interest. The country can’t afford at this time of historical junction that none of the three political parties, UCID, Kulmiye and UDUB, have an internal strife.

If the way in which Abdirahman Aw Ali was elected in 2003 Kulmiye’s election was acceptable and ok, logically the way that Abdirahman Sayli’i was elected should also be ok. Moreover, Abdirahman Sayli’i did not enter the party from the back door but he came from the front door and without “plotters” to put him in.

I would like advise Abdirahman Aw Ali the following:
• To swallow his pride and give a chance to Abdirahman Sayli’i to pursue his political career. This will also save Awdal region and Awdal community from further divisions and ramifications.
• To give a chance to Kulmiye party as well as his previous close colleague, Mujahid Muse Bihi, who is now positioned as the second person to Siilanyo.



By: Dr. Mohamed Rashid Sheikh Hassan