UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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ADMINISTRATIVE WORK IN BERBERA DISTRICT PROCEEDING SMOOTHLY
(SWB 21 Feb 95 [RH in Somali, 10 Feb 95])
Mr Hasan Ali Diriyeh Henry, the Berbera District administrator-general, who is also the minister of state for foreign affairs, has said administrative operations in Berbera district are proceeding smoothly. He told Radio Hargeisa that administrative operations and social services were functioning normally, adding that the work of the various government departments in the district was constantly supervised. Mr Henry said collection of government taxes had officially been resumed, while the police force in the area had been reorganized, trimmed and streamlined. He said of the district's 440 police officers only 200 had been retained, because security in Berbera town had improved.
HOLDING ON IN SOMALILAND
(AC 31 Mar 95, p.6)
After a shaky period when fighting broke out last October, Somaliland's President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal is in charge again. He is now confidently talking of extending his two-year mandate, which runs out in May, the fourth anniversary of Somaliland's self-declared and still unrecognised independence. A few months ago, Egal was protesting that he wouldn't want to stand for re-election; now he argues that his continued presence is needed to solve current political problems and bring fighting to an end. Few of his countrymen agree.
This year, Egal finally mustered sufficient money and arms to go on the offensive against a rebel militia unit from the Eidegalla sub-clan which had refused to join his national army. Having controlled Hargeisa airport for 18 months, extracting payment (usually US$20) from all those arriving and departing, the militia had taken exception to being expelled from the airport last October. A month later, after government forces had seized its 32 artillery pieces, the militia attacked central Hargeisa, sparking off nearly two months of spasmodic clashes. Tens of thousands of people fled the capital, leaving its centre virtually empty, until Egal's army drove the intruders away.
The possibility of full-scale clan war loomed. Much of the opposition to Egal since he took power in May 1993 has come from the Eidegalla and their close allies, the Habr Yunis. Both groups belong to the Garhajis clan of the Issaq clan family. The stakes were raised when political opponents of Egal appeared in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, last year, speaking out against Somaliland independence and calling for a federal arrangement with the rest of Somalia. Particularly significant and vocal were Egal's predecessor as Somaliland President, Abdurahman `Tour' (Habr Yunis), and former Somalia police chief General Jama Ghelib (Eidegalla), Egal's opponent and critic for nearly forty years.
Gen. Mohamed Farah `Aydeed' exploited this dissent to advance his own political ambitions in the South and quickly flew arms and ammunition up to small airfields outside Hargeisa. His main opponent in Mogadishu, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, in turn offered Egal political backing, though seemingly no arms. Like most Southern leaders, both Aydeed and Ali Mahdi say they want a united Somalia (AC Vol 35 No 11)--a line oft repeated by the United Nations. Yet none have the will or the means to try to reunite the country by force...
Meanwhile, Egal has been acquiring arms--mainly Kalashnikovs and ammunition, it seems. He says he bought these from Albania, which flew them in urgently. According to Egal, North Korea agreed to supply arms but refused to send them by air. The new weapons allowed him to go on the offensive in January. He was able to increase his national army to over 3,000 men, composed of militias from his own Habr Awal and other groups, notably the Gadabursi/Dir and the Arab (an Issaq sub-group). The Eidegalla militia, although driven away from Hargeisa, is likely to continue guerrilla activity. Egal's opponents in Nairobi and Mogadishu say its numbers are increasing; the government maintains it has only 300 or so men.
Nevertheless, the government is finally managing to get negotiations going with some of the dissatisfied clans. In February, the Rer Isahaaq, a Habr Yuni sub-clan which had been involved in some of last year's fighting, was reconciled with the government after a 25-day meeting of elders. Significantly, its 360-strong militia, which had operated along the main road from Hargeisa to the port of Berbera, then agreed to serve in the national army which Egal has set up. Other Habr Yunis elders from Burao (Tour's home town), where inter-clan tensions have been high, were also talking to Egal by mid-February, before the end of Ramadan.
The government has consistently protrayed the conflict as a political confrontation between supporters of federalism and of independence. Clan power struggles are a more convincing cause. There is no doubt that the vast majority of people in Somaliland want continued independence. Tour's advocacy of federalism and his support from Aydeed have not gone down well. However, rejection of the opposition's political arguments does not necessarily translate into support for Egal to continue as President.
Yet Egal's achievements are considerable. He has created a functioning administration, including police, judiciary, army and civil service. A committee was set up in October to decide on civil service numbers for central government and for the regional and district councils that are now being set up--2,500 is the likely total. Crucially, Egal has managed to pay the present staff of these institutions.
Government revenue comes from the fast growing trade through Berbera, much of it destined for Ethiopia, and from taxes on the lucrative trade in qat, the highly popular narcotic leaf. Two lorry loads and 12 jeeps full of qat arrive in Hargeisa daily; several qat planes supply Boroma, Berbera and other towns. The government also made big profits by changing the currency last year. New notes, printed abroad for some US$1.4 million, are now circulating well in Somaliland, at the rate of one new Somaliland shilling to 100 old Somali shillings. The old notes were recalled by the government but not destroyed. Instead, they were sold to merchants (upsetting some aspiring buyers as most went to members of Egal's own Habr Awal clan). The purchasers paid in dollars, thereby helping to finance the war, which Egal said had cost three million dollars by the end of January. The merchants were, of course, able to use the cheaply acquired shillings, as they remain legal currency in Somalia and in Ethiopia's Somali region, Region Five...
Although Egal's position is currently strong, the extension of his mandate would be controversial. He is currently ruling by decree under the 1994 state of emergency. He has hinted that the 75-strong assembly of elders and the clan-appointed members of the lower house of parliament might renew this for six months or even longer. A short extension might be acceptable if unpopular. Another possibility is for the larger National Assembly of elders, the national Guurti, to meet again, as it did at Boroma in 1993 when Egal was chosen as president, and simply renew the government for two more years. This would again be highly controversial. Several personalities from different clans might expect to be candidates, among them former Somali National Movement Chairman Ahmed Silanyo and Education Minister Suleiman Gaal, who is currently in charge in Burao (both Habr Jallo); Hussein Ali Duale `Awil', former Ambassador to Kenya and now in Nairobi or Osman Jama, a former minister under President Mohamed Siad Barre (both Habr Yunis); ex-Prime Minister Omar Arteh, who stood against Egal in 1993, or Ibrahim Meygag Samatar, a leading SNM intellectual (both Habr Awal). There is widespread feeling that, if he persists in trying to stay on in power, he will put at risk everything he has achieved over the last two years.
ISSA MILITIAS IN CLASHES
(Reuter 23 Mar 95)
DJIBOUTI - ...Clansmen of the Issa attacked militias loyal to Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, "president" of the unrecognised breakaway Somaliland republic, at the hamlet of Barisle on Wednesday, said reports reaching neighbouring Djibouti.
Egal's militias repulsed the Issa, but up to 10 men on both sides were killed...
Northwestern Somalia and Djibouti rely heavily on each other for their economic well-being. Somali businessmen use Djibouti money lenders and there is a lucrative cross-border trade.
Somalis said that the conflict stems from Egal's attempts to assert his power in multi-ethnic Somaliland, in particular the authority he has given for his followers to administer and collect levies in the region.
This meant that Issa clansmen were ousted from controlling taxation of trade in the border areas near the town of Zeila.
ABOUT 60 KILLED IN FIGHTING IN BURAO
(Reuter 30 Mar 95, by Christophe Farah)
DJIBOUTI - An estimated 60 gunmen were killed in battles between rival clan militias on Tuesday in a town in northwestern Somalia, residents said on Thursday.
Speaking to Reuters in Djibouti by radio, the residents said 50 of the dead in Burao town were fighters of the Garhajis clan alliance and 10 were loyal to Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, leader of the breakaway republic of Somaliland in the northwest.
They said fighting broke out on Tuesday when Garhajis gunmen attacked Egal's forces in the town, 150 km (75 miles) east of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland...
It was the biggest battle since the Garhajis alliance led by Egal's predecessor, Abdurahman Ahmed Ali Tur, declared all-out war at a tribal council in Burao this month...
SOMALILAND ARMY SEIZES FIVE FOREIGN VESSELS FOR "FISHING ILLEGALLY"
(SWB 18 Mar 95 [RH in Somali, 12 Mar 95])
The Somaliland National Army of the Western Zone yesterday [12th March] seized two fishing vessels found fishing illegally in Somaliland territorial waters. The number of foreign fishing vessels seized by the National Army for illegal fishing off the western coast of Somaliland has reached five over the past seven days. The Somaliland National Army based in the Western Zone has intensified their patrolling of territorial waters to counter illegal fishing.
MINISTER APPEALS FOR HELP AGAINST LOCUST INVASION
(SWB 28 Feb 95 [RH in Somali, 5 Feb 95])
The minister of agriculture of the Republic of Somaliland, Mr Habib Diriyeh Nur, has called on the International Desert Locust Control Organization [as heard, IDLCO] to help the Republic of Somaliland fight locusts which have invaded the Gerisa Heights and areas between Seylac and Laas Cawaleh [phonetic]...