Friday, June 25, 2010

SOMALIA: What Somaliland voters want

SOMALIA: What Somaliland voters want

HARGEISA, 25 June 2010 (IRIN) - Above all else, voters in Somaliland want the outside world to recognize their independence[]. But the electorate has other demands of its next government. Here is a selection:

 Said Ahmed Hassan, president of Gollis University in Hargeisa

 "The new president has to deal with the country's economy. There is enormous poverty, lack of employment opportunities, particularly for the young."

 `Qat', a plant with stimulant properties that is widely chewed in the Horn of Africa "is destroying the fabric of our society. It affects the health; economy and family life of our people. It should be curtailed."

 Hodo Mohamed, internally displaced person (name changed)

 "It seems that our plight has been totally ignored. We hope the new government will help us settle by allocating land to those of us who have been displaced by drought and poverty."

 "Look at how congested our structures [an IDP settlement in Hargesia] are. If a fire was to break out, I dread the outcome, for many of us will surely die. The new government must at least improve our living conditions."

 Khadar Ahmed, businessman

 "People should accept the election verdict no matter who wins. You cannot do business without peace."

 "The incoming government should strengthen business laws. The ministry of commerce has to put in place better laws governing how business is done. If I am going to invest in the country, I need legal protection and security because I could be investing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars."

 Anonymous businessman

 "The incoming government must ensure it reaches even the grassroots. You cannot have the government only in Hargeisa while in the countryside people have never seen the government, relying only on village elders. In fact the only time they see the government is during election campaigns when politicians traverse the countryside seeking votes."

 Mohamed-Rashid Muhumed Farah, journalist

 "In the course of our interviews with people, many complain of lack of good governance, corruption and that the government has not done much in terms of education and improving infrastructure."

 Amina Abdillahi Ahmed, academic

 "When people hold political office, they tend to stick there, not wanting to leave because Somaliland is a small country with a lot of resources which remain undiscovered. As it is, many people lack proper employment, the government doesn't pay its employees much."

 "People are looking forward to change but I fear the ruling party may not respect the people's verdict."

 "I can say democracy is taking root in Somaliland, although it may not be to Western standards. Slowly by slowly we'll get there. The incoming government must rethink what it can do for the people. It must address communities' needs and identify the gaps such as unemployment that need urgent solutions."




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