Egal_s government had been popularly elected by clan councils, representing clan entities found in the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland, in the Borama conference in the middle of 1993. This important conference, in which clan leaders and elders played a central role, briefly brought to an end the menacing endemic insecurity and instability that started to trouble the first SNM administration headed by Abdirahman Tour. At this time euphoria over independence began to wane to the chagrin of the public which expected immediate tangible results from independence, such as economic prosperity, restoration of law and order and justice.
Constituted of a coalition of clans, Egal_s government succeeded in maintaining a fragile peace that provided an stable environment suitable for reconstruction and export of live animals, whose proceeds provide cash for the lucrative import business. The latest round of violence, which first erupted in the capital city of Hargeisa in the middle of October 1994 between the government forces made of a coalition of clans and opposed Garhajis militias formed of Iidagale and Habar Yonis clans, ended this brief period of relative peace and economic recovery.
The Garhajis seem to have reservations regarding Egal since he was elected as president. Nevertheless, the popular support for the elder_s successive peacemaking initiatives in the north, which culminated to the regional conference held in Borama and installed Egal as the president, dissuaded the Garhajis from opposing Egal_s_ government at the beginning. They also thought that Egal, whose mother is a Habar Yonis, would most likely resolve their grievance after the Borama Conference.
1. The Garhajis claim to be less represented in Egal_s government that is said to be dominated by their traditional rival clan of Habar Awal (the clan of president Egal)
2. The government formed by Egal allegedly does not balance the antagonistic military and civilian factions of the Somali National Movement. It is accused of favoring the military faction that opposed Abdirahman Tour_s first civilian dominated interim SNM administration.
3. They attribute the downfall of the first Garhajis-dominated SNM administration, headed by Abdirahman Tour, a prominent Garhajis opposition leader now aligned to General Aidid, to an unholy alliance between the military faction of the SNM and Habar Awal. Therefore, there is a feeling that it is their turn to avenge themselves against the succeeding Habar Awal dominated government.
4. In addition to the foregoing political grievances, the Garhajis previously dominated Isaq politics and the politics in the north in general. This led the Garhajis to internalisethe feeling of holding the right to rule the north.
5. As the richest, most urbanised and sedentarised Isaq group, the rival Habar Awal is associated with trade and wealth. The Garhajis fear that the Habar Awal isgetting richer and more numerous and therefore tends to translate those resources topolitical power.
The Habar Awal and other clans in the north who are loyal to Egal_s government, fear Garhajis hegemony and a return to the lawlessness and uncertainty that led to the change of the first discredited SNM Interim Administration. Non-Garhajis clans also think that the Garhajis on their own have no right to dictate political developments in Somaliland. If they want to change president Egal and his government, as the opposition advocates, it has to be done collectively by the all the clans in the north.
The polarised difference between the government camp and Garhajis opposition is reflected by a sharp difference in the political platforms of the two parties. The government claims that the issue of independence of Somaliland is not negotiable, whereas the Garhajis political leaders support unity with the south and maintain the status quo.
Because of these diverse political differences and also due to deep rooted suspicion between the protagonists, reconciliation between the government and the Garhajis has so far eluded Somaliland. In an attempt to reconcile the Habar Awal and Iidagale clans, members of the council of elders in Egal_s government organised a peacemaking conference in Harta Sheikh in July 1995. Government sources described this effort, which appears to have been aimed at splitting the opposition, as a success, while the opposition dismissed it as government orchestrated scheme. Preceding peacemaking initiatives organized by the government also failed.
Given the failure of the government to reach a peaceful accord with the opposition, Egal has been forced to try other alternatives, most important of which has been the sweeping reshuffling of his ministerial cabinet in September 1995. The two most powerful military officials who lost their portfolios were Abdirahman Aw Ali of the Gadabursi clan and Musa Bihi of the sa_ad Musa sub-clan of the Habar Awal - ministers of defense and interior respectively. Bihi was immediately re-appointed presumably to avoid a split within the Habar Awal clan, while Abdirahman retained his position of Vice President. Since the Vice President and the President were both appointed by the elders in the Borama conference, Egal can_t constitutionally dismiss the Vice President even if he wants to.
The reshuffle presumably intends to achieve the following purposes:
1. No side is in a position to win this war of attrition, which is proving costly to the government and caused sky-rocketing inflation which started to threaten Egal_s government more than the conflict with the Garhajis.
2. Removing powerful military officials from important positions partially fulfills the desire of the opposition. Abdirahman Aw Ali and Musa Bihi are seen as the hawks behind the conflict, undermining the opposition who are seen as a threat to consolidation of power by the military clique who have power ambition.
3. A possible power struggle between Egal and the powerful military officials. The officials distrust Egal who himself mistrusts them. In this line, the reshuffle could be seen as a preemptive strike to remove those who pose a threat to his political survival.
The above analysis suggests that any internal peace initiative has little chance of achieving meaningful results. Those influential elders who brought reconciliation and installed Egal_s government in 1993 at the Borama conference, presently constitute the council of elders in the government in the north. The opposition assumes that they are loyal to Egal_s government and thus cannot serve as an impartial channel for reconciliation between the opposing parties.
However, an external peace effort by a third party, which would be seen by the protagonists as neutral, might still bridge the gap between the polarized positions of the government and the opposition and help towards peaceful resettlement of the civil strife. In this regard, a peace initiative by the Council for Peace and Development for Somaliland seems to stand a much better chance of success. This peacemaking initiative originated from a series of consultations and workshops organised by the large diaspora of Somaliland intellectuals abroad. Prominent members of this peacemaking council , whose urgent mission is to restore peace and stability to the north, have already started to gather in Addis Ababa.
The following reasons tend to suggest that the externally originated Council for Peace and Development for Somaliland has a better chance of success.
1. The government and the opposition both show war-weariness and therefore are most likely to cooperate with an impartial third party as a channel for peaceful settlement of the devastating civil strife.
2. Members of the Peacemaking Council seem to appeal to the opposing sides partly because they are not tainted by the politics in Somaliland and partly because they are driven by genuine concern rather than political or economic gain
3. In contrast to the situation in southern Somalia where externally imposed high profile well-intentioned peace attempts by the UN and other parties failed to restore peace and stability, Somaliland has a better record of grassroots peacemaking, as the Borama conference indicates.
4. Given the failure of government initiated local level peace initiatives in Somaliland, peacemaking effort by the Somaliland intellectuals based abroad may be considered as the most appropriate alternative to successfully reconciling the government and the opposition.
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS
1886 British establish a protectorate over the northern regions.
1941 Following the defeat of the Italian in World War II, the Italian colony of Somalia
and the British Protectorate of Somaliland were placed under British military
1950 Italy returned to Somalia as trusteeship authority for the UN, to prepare Somalia
for self-rule by 1960.
1960 Somaliland and the Italian administered territory became united as the Somali
1967 Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was appointed Prime Minister
1969 Mohamed Siad Barre became President after a coup d_ etat.
1971 In a campaign against tribalism, the traditional dia (collective compensation
between clans) was abolished.
1977 The Ogaden War started with Ethiopia.
1981 Somali National Movement was launched.
1991 (Jan) Siad Barre fled Mogadishu.
(May) Somaliland Republic was proclaimed.
1992 (Dec) Operation Restore Hope began.
1993 (Feb-May) Borama Peace Conference.
(May) Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal became President of Somaliland for an
interim period of two years.
1994 (October) Fighting broke out between government forces and Garhajis militias over
control of Hargeisa airport
1995 (April or May) Mandate of Egal_s government was extended for 18 months.
FARAH, A.Y. (with Professor I.M. Lewis) 1993.SOMALIA: THE ROOTS OF RECONCILIATION. Peacemaking Eendeavors of Contemporary Lineage Leaders: A Survey of Grassroots Peace Conferences in Somaliland. A Piece of Original Research Commissioned by ACTIONAID.
Roots of Reconciliation: The Capacity of Lineage Leaders in Peacemaking in Somaliland. A Paper Presented to The Challenge for Peacemking in Africa: Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution. A Conference Organized by International Alert in Collaboration with Ad Hoc Committee for Peace and Devlopment. Held at ECA Hall, Addis Ababa, September 12-15, 1994.
Understanding Present Political Situation in Somaliland. A Consultancy Report to SCF (UK), Addis Ababa, Examining the Root Causes of the Conflict between the Government and the Garhajis Opposition.
Bryden, M. (UN-EUE Consultant) 1994; Briefing Paper: Situation in Somaliland.
1994; Situation Report: Mission to Somaliland.
1995; Mission Report to Djibouti and Somaliland.
Site/Camp Registered Pop. Listed New Arrivals** Largest Clan/Clans 1.Hartisheikh 43845 14830 Habar Awal, Arab 2. Kebribeyah 10100 6 Abiskul, and other Darod clans 3. Darwanaji 36855 6153 Jibril Yonis (Gadabursi) 4. Teferiber 41301 5068 Rer Nur (Gadabursi) 5. Camaboker 17231 14689 Iidagale 6. Rabasso 8025 16840 Iidagale 7. Darror 12261 32703 Habar Yonis, Iidagale, Habar Je'lo 8. Aisha 15282 Iisa Total 184,900.00 90,289.00Back to document index
Editor: Ali B. Dinar, (firstname.lastname@example.org)