Thursday, April 28, 2011

Somaliland is the best democratic country in the Horn of Africa( an article)

 Somaliland is the best democratic country in the Horn of Africa:


Reported: Abdi Abdillahi Hassan, Chairman of Horn of Africa (HODO Life Line)
Somaliland's second presidential election was held on 26th June 2010, which

International observers confirmed it was fair and free election, complying international standards. Somaliland adopted multi-party systems on 31st May 2001 when Somaliland citizens voted and approved the new constitution of the country. Somaliland previously held t local government and Parliamentary elections on December 2002 and September 2005 respectively.

Somaliland is moderate Muslim country that made significant progress to their democratisation process. Although there were many challenges, the transitional period to transform to pluralism political system went through with a very smooth and peaceful process.  Before that time Somaliland political arena was dominated by clan-based system. It was a huge achievement that Somaliland adopted democracy without or little assistance from the international community. The three candidates of political parties UDUB (The previous ruling party, and two major opposition parties UCID, and KULMIYE (the current ruling parties) took part in this election. 

After one month of busy elections campaign launched by the three main parties, the outcome of the election result indicated that The Opposition party KULMIYE won the election and fortunately UDUB ruling party accepted the outcome after National elections commissions announced it. 

How democratic are Somaliland's neighbours?


South and Central Somalia:

In so called the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is the current Internationally recognised government of Somalia. The transitional federal charter was adopted in November 2004 by so called Transitional Federal Parliament.  The central government promised to restore law and order in the Central and South Somalia.  The transitional Charter outlines a five-year mandate leading toward the establishment of a new constitution and a transition to a representative government after national elections. It seemed that TFG is not ready to hold national election based on International standards due to unsafe and unstable

 The TFG recently attempt to restore central government to Somalia after the 1991 collapse of the formed president Siad Barre. After fall of Siad Barre Somalia was devastated by civil war, lawlessnessand chaos.  Except Somaliland republic which announced to separate the rest of Somalia and gained its independence in 1991 after collapsed of the Somali central government.  The Autonomous Punland also managed relative peace and they have their own government and parliament elected by clan based political system.



 The TFG faced challenges from Islamic radical groups for Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam (two main rebels fighting against the transitional government.  Although the current TFG is backed by international community and African forced stationed in Mogadishu to support weak TFG government. The government is only controlled a village from North Mogadishu where they controlled the airport and sea port. About 7,500 Ugandan and Burundi soldiers make up the African Union peacekeeping force supporting the Somali transitional government.
 The current government was elected as clan related political culture. The TFG is criticised that it operated undemocratic, being ineffective and corrupt regime.   


The Ethiopian Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia adopted the constitution in December 1994 which allows the multiparty system. The first elections for Ethiopia's first popularly chosen national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May 1995.


The previous election was held in May 2005. This election was caused demonstrations and political unrest which led to the deaths of 200 protesters and injury of 763 others, mostly in the capital Addis ababa and more than 10,000 people were detained by security forces following the election, most released in 2006. This election was condemned by opposition groups and International observers; it was declared that it was lower than national election standers.


The last presidential election in Ethiopia held in May 2010, the ruling party won the election the country's electoral board said the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and allied parties had won 534 seats out of 536 declared, the poll fell short of some international standards and the general election drew condemnation from national and international observers. 




Eritrea is an authoritarian state, run by the People's Front Democracy and justice. Other political groups are not allowed to organise, although the non-implemented Constitution of 1997 provides for the existence of multi-party politics. The National Assembly has 150 seats, of which 75 are occupied by the PFDJ. National elections have been periodically scheduled and cancelled; none have ever been held in the country. Independent local sources of political information on Eritrean domestic politics are scarce; in September 2001 the government closed down all of the nation's privately owned print  media and outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial, according to various international observers, including Human rights Watch and Amnesty International. 


We are also aware the Kenyan elections which ended Riots erupted in Kenya after Kibaki
was declared re-elected as President. Certain opposition supporters, angered by alleged electoral manipulation by President Kibaki, allegedly incited civil unrest. The unrest involved ethnic violence between members of different tribes, particularly between the Kikuyu and the Luo. Eventually, a power-sharing agreement, according to which Kibaki would remain President and Odinga would gain the new post of Prime Minister, was reached in late February 2008, and a coalition government, with an equal number of ministers for the PNU and the ODM, was named in April.

The democratisation process in Djibouti is very poor and is one of the worst in Horn of Africa, although Djibouti government is allied with Western governments and regarded itself as democratic nation adopted multi-party systems in early 1992, it dominated 
 a single political party system which is president's party (People's Rally for Progress),
 the current system is unfair and unbalance and even Djibouti has no national election
 commission which monitoring the election. The opposition party has no members in the parliament, the opposition groups are very weak and most of them live in abroad because they are not feeling safe to remain in the country, they are not even criticised publicly in the government. 


In Sudan the presidential election was held in April 2010, the current president Omar 
Al bashir declared himself to win 68% the first multi-party system in 24 years ruling 
one single party ( Mr Bashir and his National Congress Party). The EU and the Carter
 Centre said the polls were below international standards. The five key democracy indicators of elected process are pluralism, functioning of
Government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. 


According to Somaliland's recent democratisation performance, comparing to the rest of Africa, particularly in Somaliland neighbours, it is doing very well. According to economist intelligent unit 2009, the index assesses the democratic status of 167 countries in world. The index pointed out that the most democratic country in the world is Sweden. The most democratic country in Africa is Mauritius. While there are no single full democratic or flawed or imperfect democratic countries in the horn of Africa. Unfortunately Somaliland is facto stated and does not gained international recognition was not included in the index. 

According to the index the most Horn of African countries including Ethiopia and Kenya scored hybrid regimes and totalitarian regimes which scored below the standard 4-5. Both Ethiopia and Kenya appeared to establish better elections process and pluralism because they allow some form of political pluralism and conduct elections, however the elections are often neither free nor fair. The Horn of Africa regimes are not only authoritarian and undemocratic nations but they are the poorest in this planet. It also appeared that their political culture has had impact on their economic and social development.

It seemed that the most democratic countries are most developed countries in the universal, while the most authoritarian regimes are poorest and less developed nations. 
 America and other western countries forced Iraq ,Afghanistan and Libia to adopt the multi-party system and cost them billions of dollars to help their democracy. They sent thousands of soldiers to maintain peace and stability which cost them human casualties while they also support the current Somali transitional government which is fighting against religious extremist Alshabab and Hizbol Islam. These armed groups deny rights of Somaliland citizens which adopted in their home-made democratic system which accomplishes international standards. The Horn of African citizens should come up with new vision and being assertive and have their say and demand their political leaders to adopt democratic political culture to achieve democratic transformation in the horn of African countries as there are a lot of obstacles and concerns as we mentioned above. 


I suggest the other Horn of Africa leaders should follow Somaliland's positive examples on how they adopted the democratic system and how they become self-sufficient and self-reliant, as well as how they manage to resolve their problems with peaceful and civilised manner. Finally I would like to call here the international community to review their policy and try to reward the Somaliland achievement s which they established a peaceful environment, respected human rights, adopted multi party system and create responsible and accountable government. 

I have to also acknowledge that there are still room for improvements, despite all the achievements. Somaliland's peace and democracy can be harmed with apparent lack of international diplomatic recognition, which will block Somaliland to access the international institutions like UN, AU, EU, USA, World Bank, IMF and to establish bilateral agreements. 
Above all, Somaliland is situated in very sensitive region, dominated by famine, political unrest, civil wars, pirates and religious extremism, but appears to be beacon of Horn of African and new model of African model which adopted pluralism political culture and example for self-help and self-reliance. Somaliland continue to face challenges from pirates, sectarian war and regional unrest, and is difficulties to cope with the current pressure and they are in need of economic assistance from international community. 

 Historical background:   

 Somaliland was a British Protectorate for 86 years and got its independence in 26th June 1960. Known as British Somaliland It was an internationally recognised sovereign state until 1st July 1960. Shortly after receiving independence from Britain, it united with the South of Somalia, known as Italian Somaliland and colonised by Italy until its merger with Somaliland to form the Somali Democratic Republic. The drive behind the Republic was based on vision of united greater Somalia.


When its second president Abdulrashid Ali Sharmarke (1967-1969) was assassinated by his own bodyguards in Laas Aanod City, the vision of unity started to fall apart. A bloodless coup-de-tat on 21st of October 1969 ensued resulting in army General Mohamed Siyaad Barre becoming president. Barre wasted no time in establishing an authoritarian regime, starting off his first year by giving unlimited powers to the military. The population of Northern Somalia (Somaliland) were denied the same provisions in welfare and aid.


 Barre, who describes himself as a Socialist, created uneven distribution of resources across Somalia, leading to vast inequalities apparent between North-South with regards to education, health and development. This, together with a number of other factors resulted in the birth of the Somali National Movement (SNM) a political military liberation movement (April 1981). In 1988 Bare awarded the Houd region to Ethiopia in-exchange for the Ethiopian government to expel the Somali National Movement (SNM) from the Houd and reserve the area.  In 1988 there occurred a clash between the government forces and SNM soldiers. The SNM fighters captured most of the northern regions of Somalia (now known as Somaliland).

 The government took revenge by indiscriminately killing civilians. They killed thousands of innocent people. They destroyed homes, livelihoods and took claim of the properties. More than half a million people fled Somalia, and crossed the border to  neighbouring countries, with those unable to flee displaced and helpless, becoming  refugees in their now completely destroyed regions.


 The Somaliland people continued to suffer as victims of brutality, as crimes against humanity were being perpetrated by Somalia's military regime under the authority of the Somali Government. Internationally condemned, many Human Rights' organizations, and western states documented the war crimes and genocide acts committed against the people of Somaliland. 

There are internationally documented mass graves across Somaliland, particularly in the big cities, such as Hargeisa, Berbera, Erigavo and other Somaliland towns and villages. Unfortunately, the International community failed so far to bring those war criminals to justice. Mona Rishmawi, a Palestinian lawyer who also works for the Independent International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), was speaking to reporters after returning from a visit to the Horn of Africa. 


 "The story of the massacres has to be told because it is a horrible story", she said. Adding "People have to understand that systematic killing of civilians, even in a situation of chaos and civil war, when hundreds of people are rounded up and massacred, is just not acceptable" .Rishmawi recommended an effort to set-up an international criminal court in Somalia stating: "It is very important for the integrity of the U.N. human rights system that we deal with such events".Still in efforts to establish an enquiry,  Rishmawi commented on progress, noting that discussions would start soon on setting up an international criminal court.  


Abdi Abdillahi Hassan,

Chairman of Horn Of Africa Development Organisation (HODO Life Line)




The United Nations marked the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl today by honouring the victims of the worst nuclear accident in history and stressing the need to do more to help communities in the affected areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

More than 300,000 people were displaced and roughly six million were affected by the accident that took place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986, which contaminated a swathe of territory half the size of Italy.

"The Chernobyl anniversary is an occasion both to remember the human cost of the disaster and to take stock of the many problems that still linger," Ambassador Maria Rubiales de Chamorro of Nicaragua, the Acting President of the General Assembly, said at a special <"">commemorative meeting held by the 192-member body.

"But it is also a time to look ahead and seek solutions that hold promise for the affected communities and renew our commitment to a safer future," she added, noting that the affected communities require assistance in areas such as investments and socio-economic development.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the anniversary is a time to remember the heroism of the firefighters and other emergency workers, as well as the plight of millions of people who were uprooted from the contaminated regions and those still living in the affected areas.

"Their sacrifices must never be forgotten; their suffering must never go unaddressed," he said in a <"">statement to mark the anniversary.

He told the meeting of the Assembly that Chernobyl "cast a radioactive cloud across Europe and a shadow around the world," but it also highlighted international solidarity.

"Chernobyl was not a problem for Ukraine, Belarus or Russia alone. Chernobyl was our problem – a shared challenge for the world," said Mr. Ban, who last week became the first UN Secretary-General to visit the site of the disaster.

He added that the anniversary, as well as the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant last month, calls for reflection and robust global debate on how to achieve the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maximum safety.

Mr. Ban has outlined a five-step plan to enhance nuclear safety, beginning with "a top to bottom review" of current nuclear safety standards, both at the national and international levels. The plan also strengthening the work of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), putting a sharper focus on the nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety, undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of nuclear energy, and building a stronger connection between nuclear safety and nuclear security.

"With the memory of Chernobyl and, now, the disaster in Fukushima, we must widen our lens," Mr. Ban wrote in an <"">opinion piece published in the <i>International Herald Tribune</i>. "Henceforth, we must treat the issue of nuclear safety as seriously as we do nuclear weapons."

In a <"">message to the opening of a photo exhibition in New York on the occasion of the anniversary, Mr. Ban pledged his determination to keep nuclear safety at the top of the international agenda.

"By working to ensure that nuclear power is used peacefully and safely, we can honour the memory of Chernobyl's victims and its lost heroes."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Autism and the Somali Community: What You Need to Know

Autism and the Somali Community: What You Need to Know

By now, most of you have heard about this disorder commonly referred to as Autism. This is a disorder most of us were unfamiliar with before migrating to the West. Yet it has affected many of our children. Most of us know children or families who've been afflicted with this disorder. This article will be focusing on what the signs and symptoms are, as well as the services currently available for children living with Autism.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorders are a range of disorders which manifest in three ways: impaired social interaction, problems with communication and abnormal behaviors (e.g., repetitive behavior). The most common is Autism, which will be focused on in this article.

Why Somalis should be concerned

Recently, the Center for Disease Control raised the number of children in the US with Autism, from 1 in 150, to 1 in 110. This is a staggering jump in a country with a population of 315 million. Unfortunately, since many Somalis are recent immigrants, research has been very limited in this field. Despite this, there have been some media reports; the NY Times profiled Minnesota Somalis twice last year, regarding a possible cluster of Autism in Minneapolis Somali community. In April 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the fears of Somali families: Somali children were found to be represented in Autism education programs 2 to 7 times greater than non-Somali students. Researchers in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Cloud are presently trying to determine what the true prevalence of Autism is amongst Somalis in Minnesota. Amongst Ohio Somalis, no formal studies have been commissioned as of yet.

Signs and Symptoms

Little or no eye contact
For infants, no babbling or pointing to different things
No single words by 16 months, or 2-word phrases by 2 years of age
No response to one's name or simple directions
Lining up of toys and other rigid, repetitive behavior
Child may have had language/social skills at one time, but lost those skills
Echolalia: the child will repeat words, phrases or sentences which you say several times. Children may also repeat lines from TV shows or movies several times.

Most of us have heard Somali people say the following: if the child's not talking, don't worry! The child will grow out of it. I've heard this first hand from Somali mothers of children with Autism. While this may be true for a few children, late talking is one of the symptoms of Autism. If you recognize these signs/symptoms in your children, you should contact your family doctor right away. Your family doctor will refer you to professionals trained in diagnosing Autism (developmental doctors, psychologists etc). If a diagnosis is made, your doctor will write you referrals for services, depending on the age of the child.

What treatments are available?

Typically for young children (0-3), services are administered through early intervention where the child will have access to occupational therapists, speech therapists, and other professionals.

Once a child reaches the age of 3, there are special needs preschools and kindergartens designed to provide intensive services. Once a child is school aged, an assessment will be completed to see if the child qualifies for what is called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The symptoms of children with Autism vary from case to case; some children display average language skills, while others will be severely delayed. Children with more moderate to severe Autism are usually provided an IEP. The creation of an IEP leads to greater accommodations made for the student in the classroom and additional services which may include occupational therapy, ABA therapy, and speech therapy.

Early intervention is key!

Research has shown that outcomes are best for children who receive an early diagnosis, and start receiving treatment early. The earlier a child is assessed (and treated), the better.

What you can do

Contact the departments of health and education in your own city, and encourage them to commission studies looking into the autism prevalence in the Somali community. The key to the positive response of the local and state government in Minnesota was due in large part to the advocacy of Somali parents with children with Autism. More studies need to be done to assess the prevalence of Autism. Once researchers and health professionals better understand the numbers, treatment options will become more customized to the Somali population.

Become more involved in your children's schools and hospitals. Engagement with the greater community will provide Somalis with a greater voice wherever they may be.

Spread this information to all of your family members.



The United Nations health agency is urging European countries to work more closely together to combat measles – which is entirely preventable – after a surge in the number of cases across the continent since the start of the year.

At least 6,500 cases have been reported already, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday, with significant outbreaks observed in 30 countries, including Belgium, France, Serbia, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Spain.

WHO said the outbreaks could worsen in the days ahead as many people travel during the Easter holidays.

"With shared borders and considerable population movement, countries share health threats. There is a need to create strong partnerships to prevent and control diseases, such as measles, in our region," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the agency's regional director for Europe.

European Immunization Week, being held for the seventh consecutive year, kicks off on Saturday in 50 countries across Europe, the largest number since the initiative began.

Ms. Jakab said the week offered the opportunity for "countries to come together and collaborate on joint planning of preventive measures and effective responses to the common threats we face from vaccine-preventable diseases. Only through this kind of collaboration can we achieve the goals of boosting vaccination coverage and eliminating measles and rubella by 2015."

Highly contagious, measles remains one of the world's biggest causes of death among young children, an estimated 164,000 people dying from the virus in 2008.

The disease can be prevented through a safe and effective vaccine, and immunization campaigns worldwide have helped millions of children in high-risk areas. The number of deaths from measles slumped by an estimated 78 per cent between 2000 and 2008.

Somaliland: Former Vice President Ahmed Yasin objects more political parties

Somaliland: Former Vice President Ahmed Yasin objects more political parties

HARGEISA(SomalilandPress)—Former Vice President Ahmed Yusuf Yasin and the current chairman of the opposition United Peoples Democratic Party(UDUB) today objected the formation of more political parties at a convention that the party held today in Hargeisa's Crown Hotel. The former vice president who is popular amongst the top officials in the UDUB opposition party was speaking to party members when he express his objection to formation of more political parties in the country. Vice President Yasin's objection to more parties comes after momentum picked up on the issue of more political parties in the country after President Silaanyo's formation of a committee that is to study the issue has been speaking with the different sectors of the society.

According to Mr. Yasin the purpose of today's convention is for the party to debate about the current issue that the country is under s with the formation of more political parties. Vice president Yasin goes on to say "if we are the former government leaders it is advisable to recommend reforming the current three political parties, we are suggested to the parliament members and the president not to mislead the people with the idea of more parties". The concern that the party has is that with more political parties it will segregate the current cohesiveness that the country is enjoying. The former vice president recommended that all three parties be opened and allowed to have primaries in which anyone can run for the party chairman position. Mr. Yasin also proposed that all current senior members in each party member relinquish their post and campaign for the post similar to any new ambitious young politician.

The discontent that the young generations has with the current three political parties are that the old well connected politicians appoint themselves a life time position and are not ready to reform and it is unfeasible for fresh blood to join the political system. The other two opposition parties have not responded to vice president Yasin's proposal but it appears that his plan will be praised among the young generation who see this as new era in Somaliland's political game.

The following is a joint statement by the United States and the African Union.

The following is a joint statement by the United States and the African Union.

Begin text:

The United States and the African Union (AU) met on April 20 and 21, 2011, in Washington for the second annual U.S.-AU High Level Meeting. Talks centered on how the United States and AU can cooperate to address issues of mutual interest and promote common values in the context of our strategic partnership.

This second annual round of talks covered the full range of U.S.-Africa priorities, including promoting civilian democratic institutions; creating economic, social, and political opportunities for the African people; improving health conditions on the continent; enabling Africa to feed itself; strengthening peace and security efforts and mitigating conflict; enhancing African peacekeeping capabilities; and addressing complex transnational issues such as terrorism and trafficking in drugs and human beings.

On the situation in Libya, the United States acknowledged AU efforts to achieve a ceasefire, but reiterated the need for greater coordination with the international community. The United States noted that a ceasefire requires an immediate end to all attacks on civilians and the withdrawal of Qadhafi's forces from all cities they have forcibly entered, occupied, or besieged. Qadhafi and his regime also should comply with their obligations under international law, international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law including protecting civilians and meeting their basic needs. Any ceasefire should pave the way to an inclusive political process in Libya, an essential element of which is that Qadhafi must leave power and Libya.

On its part, the AU highlighted the key components of its road map for peace in Libya including: i) immediate cessation of hostilities, ii) the diligent delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations, iii) the protection of foreign nationals, including African migrant workers, and iv) inclusive dialogue and a transitional period leading to political reforms. The AU stressed that the determination of the participants in the process as well as the issue of political leadership is one that only the Libyans themselves can resolve. Furthermore, it noted this process must be guided by the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, rule of law, peace and security, as well as socio-economic development.

The U.S.-AU talks provided an opportunity for the United States to reiterate its support for the critical leadership role the AU plays in promoting democracy and good governance throughout the continent. The two parties recognize that the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan would not be possible without the engagement and support of the AU, the U.S., and the rest of the international community.

The United States applauds the AU's role in restoring democracy in Guinea and Niger and thanks the organization for its strong united position in support of legitimately-elected President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire. The United States also commends the AU's courageous peacekeeping work in Somalia, which remains one of the most fragile states in Africa and the world.

On its part, the AU delegation commends the U.S. government for its support for AU programs and activities, particularly in the area of peace and security and the improvement of the quality of lives in Africa. The AU also appreciates the support the United States provides in sustaining the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and in helping to restore democracy in Guinea and Niger, and requests continued support as the two countries strive to consolidate democracy and return to development

The AU delegation, led by AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, met with a range of senior Obama Administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Under Secretary of State William Burns, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats, Special Envoy on Sudan Princeton N. Lyman, and Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson. Both the U.S. and the AU look forward to continued engagement on the range of critical issues of interest to both parties as they strive to foster a stable and strong global community.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Somali foreign minister criticises global response to piracy problem

Somali foreign minister criticises global response to piracy problem

DUBAI // In a blunt keynote address to open an anti-piracy conference yesterday the Somali foreign minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, criticised what he called a half-hearted global response to the problem of piracy.

"We wait to be convinced that the international community has the will to tackle piracy in a clear strategic partnership with the Somali government for the rebirth of the national Somali state," he said.

"Without this, we see no likelihood of success against piracy."

The international response so far - including naval patrols, new pirate courts and prisons - has targeted only the symptoms of the problems, he said, and not invested enough in Somalia itself.

"All components of this strategy have focused on legal, financial and military measures to deal with consequences of piracy. They do not and have not addressed the root causes of piracy.

"Equally, all programmes and investments made have focused on projects outside Somalia and its territorial waters. There are none of any significance in Somalia."

Several delegates from South Korea, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries affirmed the need to act immediately and to focus on rebuilding Somalia.

A critical role of the conference this week is to raise money for the UN counter-piracy trust fund set up in January last year. It has used US$4.2 million (Dh15.4m) of $6.9m previously donated.

About $25m is needed over the next three years to build pirate prisons and courts, plus extra funds for development aid in Somalia, said Jack Lang, the former special adviser to the UN secretary general on piracy.

However, he said the international community had in fact devoted resources to aiding Somalia. "It's not true to say there was nothing inside. Very big work was undertaken by northern countries, by Nato, by others," he said. "But now we have to go further."

Last month the UN spent about $1.5m to construct a 460-bed prison in Somaliland, an autonomous region in the north of Somalia.

There are also UN plans to build another prison in Puntland, a region in central Somalia from which many pirates come.

Officials from both regions signed agreements yesterday, on the sidelines of the conference, to take in pirate prisoners who had been convicted abroad.

Last week the UN Security Council adopted a resolution encouraging more prisons and courts to be built, including in Somaliland and Puntland.

The resolution drew largely from proposals submitted by Mr Lang.

The conference, coming so soon after the new Security Council resolution, was timely, Mr Lang said. "It will reinforce international consciousness," and, "if possible, get money".

The National 



The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has condemned the use of sailors as human shields after Somali pirates continued to detain seven crew members of a recently released ship even though a ransom had been reportedly paid.

Six officers and one other crew member of the M/V Asphalt Venture are being held at an undisclosed location after the ship and the rest of the people aboard were released by pirates off Somalia last Thursday, nearly seven months after they were hijacked.

In a <"">statement issued yesterday from its London headquarters, IMO stressed that it deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships and the treatment of seafarers held hostage.

"Using seafarers as human shields to continue to engage in piracy – one of the most heinous of crimes against humanity at sea – is totally unacceptable," the agency said.

IMO is backing a new "Save Our Seafarers" campaign launched by the shipping industry, saying that the safety and well-being of sailors should be of paramount importance to any strategy to respond to piracy.

The agency's statement comes amid mounting international concern about the problem of piracy, particularly in the waters off Somalia.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia needs more resources to carry out its mandate.

The trust fund's board has approved 12 projects worth $4.3 million since the fund was created in January last year, including a media project to disseminate anti-piracy messages in the region and other initiatives to strengthen law enforcement and criminal justice in Somalia, Kenya and Seychelles.

In a <"">message to an event in Dubai to support the trust fund, delivered on his behalf by UN Legal Counsel Patricia O'Brien, Mr. Ban said the fund offered an opportunity to translate regional and global concerns into concrete actions.


New York, Apr 19 2011 10:10AM
An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on Algeria to guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression as part of its ongoing political reforms, noting that journalists still face a number of challenges in carrying out their work.

"I would like to reiterate the importance of fully guaranteeing the right of all individuals to freedom of opinion and expression, and access to information, which are essential in a truly democratic society," <"">said Frank La Rue, who just concluded a weeklong visit to the country.

"This visit has been very timely given the growing demand of the people for more openness and the full guarantee of their right to freedom of expression, as well as the expressed desire of the Government to embark on a new process of political change, including constitutional reforms," said Mr. La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Algeria has come a long way since the 1990s, during which 100 journalists were killed, he noted in a news release, adding that journalists no longer fear for their lives while performing their work.

"Nevertheless, journalists face a number of challenges and legal intimidation that impede their important work," he said.

Mr. La Rue urged the Government to urgently decriminalize defamation, which he said has "a chilling effect" on the right to freedom of expression by generating an attitude of self-censorship among journalists.

"Defamation should never be used to stifle criticism of State institutions and policies," he added, welcoming the announcement by the President to decriminalize press offences.

He also welcomed the recent lifting of the state of emergency which has been in place since 1992, calling it a "positive sign." At the same time, he cautioned that the existing legal framework is still restrictive when it comes to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Mr. La Rue pointed out that the television and radio sectors are still under the control of the Government. He also took note of reports that national television and radio stations did not provide fair and balanced coverage of the recent protests in the country.

While welcoming efforts to provide increased Internet access to eight million users through libraries and public Internet centres, the Special Rapporteur did note that the social networking site Facebook had become inaccessible for a short period during the recent events in neighbouring countries.

Mr. La Rue reports in an independent and unpaid capacity to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



Global governance has topped the agenda in talks between General Assembly President Joseph Deiss and senior officials from Panama during the President's visit to the Latin American country.

Mr. Deiss <"">arrived in Panama on Friday and met with President Ricardo Martinelli and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela, according to a statement issued by a spokesperson for the Assembly President.

The officials discussed the presence of the United Nations in Panama, which is home to a regional hub of the Organization.

Mr. Deiss also delivered an address to the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and met with the UN Resident Coordinator and other senior UN staff members based in Panama.


New York, Apr 18 2011 12:10PM
As calm gradually returns to Côte d'Ivoire after months of post-election violence, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that it is rushing to assist farmers as they prepare to sow their rice and maize crops at the onset of the rainy season in the north and west of the country.

The agency says it is procuring seeds, tools and fertilizer kits for around 12,000 farming households in both Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, where an estimated 150,000 Ivorian refugees have sought safety since their country descended into violence after the presidential run-off election last November. The unrest displaced up to a million people inside Côte d'Ivoire.

FAO hopes that helping the internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as refugees and host communities will prevent future tensions and further hardship.

The agency has requested an initial $4.25 million from donors as part of the general $160 million humanitarian appeal for Côte d'Ivoire, and $6 million for Liberia.

"Food to cover the lean season until the next harvest has not been stockpiled as it usually is and there will not be enough," <"">said Luc Genot, the FAO Emergency Coordinator in the Côte d'Ivoire.

"In addition, pressure is being put on household food supplies by increasing numbers of displaced people from the conflict in rural areas. Unless these people are helped to plant now, they are going to need food assistance for many months to come," Mr. Genot added.

Violence, fuel shortages and roadblocks have restricted transport, causing seed and fertilizer shortages in the country, according to FAO.

The refusal by former president Laurent Gbagbo to stand down after he lost the UN-certified run-off poll in November plunged the West African country into four months of violence, with his troops pitted against forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized President. Mr. Gbagbo surrendered a week ago and was taken into custody.

The recent violence in Côte d'Ivoire followed a decade of political upheaval that had already taken a toll on the population and on food security in what was once one of the strongest agricultural economies in West Africa.

The FAO intervention to shore up the current planting season has so far received support from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and from the agency's own resources.



The head of the United Nations agency defending press freedom today condemned the recent murders of media professionals in Brazil and Iraq, stressing that these crimes must not go unpunished.

Brazilian radio and television journalist Luciano Leitão Pedrosa was known for his critical coverage of local authorities and criminal groups and allegedly received frequent threats. The 46-year-old presented the <em>Ação e Cidadania</em> (<em>Action and Citizenship</em>) programme on TV Vitória, and also reported for the FM radio station Metropolitana.

He was shot in a restaurant on 10 April in Vitória de Santo Antão in north-eastern Pernambuco state.

"Journalists must be free to work without fear. The public debate to which they contribute lies at the heart of democratic governance," <"">said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

She said the murder of Mr. Pedrosa is a direct attack against this debate, and against the basic human right of freedom of expression. "I condemn this killing, which must not go unpunished."

Ms. Bokova also <"">deplored the killing of Iraqi television executive Taha Hameed and called for improved safety for journalists in the country.

Mr. Hameed, the head of al-Massar TV, was driving with Iraqi human rights activist Abed Farhan Thiyab when they were shot dead in the south of Baghdad on 8 April.

"By informing the public, by promoting dialogue and debate, by giving voice to the citizens of Iraq, the media play a major role in the reconstruction of the country," said Ms. Bokova. "They must be able to work in conditions of reasonable safety and in the knowledge that crimes against them will not go unpunished."

According to the International Press Institute, Mr. Hameed is the fifth journalist to be killed in Iraq this year.


New York, Apr 18 2011 10:10AM
United Nations envoys visiting Libya have reached an agreement with the authorities on setting up a humanitarian presence in the capital, Tripoli, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, while once again calling for an immediate end to the fighting that has taken a heavy toll on civilians.

Nearly half a million people have fled the country in recent weeks since fighting broke out between Government forces and rebels seeking the ouster of Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi. In addition, roughly 330,000 people have been internally displaced by the unrest which began earlier this year.

"It is absolutely necessary that Libyan authorities stop fighting, stop killing people," Mr. Ban <"">said during a joint press conference in Budapest with Hungarian President Pál Schmitt, reiterating that the first priority is to secure an immediate and effective ceasefire.

The second priority, he said, is to expand the UN's humanitarian assistance to people in need.

The agreement to set up a humanitarian presence in Tripoli was reached during a visit yesterday to the capital by UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Abdel Elah al-Khatib. The UN has already established a humanitarian presence in the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

Mr. Ban warned last week that, under the worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people could eventually require humanitarian assistance, stressing the need to mobilize all means at the disposal of the international community, including military, to get aid to those who need it.

The UN and its partners have appealed for $310 to provide vital humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis in Libya. So far it has received 41 per cent of the needed funding.

The fighting in Libya started out as protests against the Qadhafi regime, and is part of a broader pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the downfall of long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.



It is important to ensure that security measures do not hamper the movement of mail or undermine the growth of the postal sector, says the head of the United Nations Universal Postal Union (UPU) after a group of experts met to discuss safety standards in the industry.

The <"">meeting of the UPU committee comprising postal operators and international organizations was prompted by the introduction last November of new security measures by the United States Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for US-bound international mail after two bomb packages from Yemen were intercepted in October.

The measures forced the national postal services of UPU member countries to change their operational procedures overnight, according to a news release issued by the agency after last week's meeting.

Some postal services stopped accepting or delayed US-bound mail items and faced higher transportation costs and the shutdown of major mail transit hubs, causing mail backlogs around the world.

Edouard Dayan, the Director General of the UPU, said he fully understands the need for heightened security, but noted that permanent security measures could cause problems if they compromise the principles of freedom of transit and a universal postal service.

"Security concerns should not restrict Posts' ability to move the mail and the sector's future growth," stated Mr. Dayan, who recently met with the head of the TSA to discuss the issue. "A better understanding of the postal business and a balanced approach to security are required."

The UPU has worked with the TSA to relax the measures for low-risk mail. While some countries resumed full service at the end of March and early April, others are still experiencing mail blockages or delays.

Fuelled by e-commerce and trade expansion, postal services saw their express and parcel volumes rise by more than 15 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009, according to research carried out by UPU. In addition, postal services worldwide send more than 418 million letters, packages and express mail pieces to the US every year.

"It is essential to work together at the international level to define global standards in this area that apply to all actors rather than having individual countries or supranational bodies setting standards for everyone," said Mr. Dayan.

The recommendations from last week's meeting of the UPU inter-committee security group, which took place at the agency's headquarters in Berne, Switzerland, are expected by the end of the year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



30 years ago in English spring, SNM (Somali National Movement), a liberation
front against dictatorial regime of Somalia, was officially launched in London, as
there was no possibility to hold free assembly or conference neither in Somalia
nor in the whole Middle East. Representatives were constituency based and
not clan based as practiced latter on. They came from Somali communities
abroad mostly from Europe and Middle East with representation and approval by
grass-root and leadership units inside the country. Immediately SNM ignited the
first spark of continuous armed struggle for a decade, during which the tyrant
bombed civilians, shelled its cities and sent the entire residents of major towns of
Somaliland like Hargeysa, Buroa, Berbera and Erigabo and many more to refugee
camps in Ethiopia and in exile far away.

SNM leadership brought in a new style of governance to armed movements. It
established a system of democratic government, with independent executive and
legislative branches. Occupants were democratically elected through a process
of constituency selections. The executive were led by a Chairman elected for one
year. The armed wing of SNM was operationally independent but at the policy
level was directed by the executive. Democratization of an armed movement
to that extend was unprecedented. During 10 years of armed struggle, SNM
changed leadership democratically, so often. It had five Chairmen in the process.
The Chairman with the longest tenure was Ahmed Silanyo, current President of

It is that background which helped Somaliland to adopt democracy practically,
effectively and peacefully in a short period.

Let me leave with you this interview with President Ahmed Silanyo, then
Chairman of SNM. It is an illustrative lesson that portrays the raison d'être and
motives of SNM. This interview was translated by BBC Monitoring Unit.

He Has Done to the People Things Which the Colonialists Never Did.

(Clandestine)Radio Halgan Interviews SNM's Silanyo
in Somali 1700 GMT 3 Aug 87

[Excerpts] [HALGAN] Radio Halgan, the united voice of the Somali opposition forces to
interview fighter Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo, the Somali National Movement chairman.
We asked him about the general situation in Somalia.

[Silanyo] The general situation in Somalia is, as all Somali people know, [words
indistinct]. He has been dictator for a long time. During his rule the economy, the
political situation and other factors affecting the lives of the people have deteriorated.
There is less freedom. He has done to the people things which the colonialists

never did, things which they have never experienced before. The horrors the system
has imposed on them are well known. Today there is internal strife. There is a struggle
going on between a group who belong to Siyaad Barr's clan or household and another
group who see themselves as the rightful successors according to the so-called law of
the land.

He has appointed his son, Masleh, to the new post of army commander in and around
Mogadishu. Masleh has also been made the commander-in-chief. This means that
prepara-tions are underway to put him in charge of the army, security and everything
else i.e. minister of defense, now that Mohamed Ali Samantar has lost that post. The
latter has been made prime minister.

As we have said many times before, all this is leading to a monarchical system of rule
based on hereditary succession. The preparations for this have been observed for
a long time. From the beginning the people have been fighting not only against the
dictatorship destroying the land and the people but also moves towards creating a
monarchy in the country. Those who oppose it are pushed about when they express
disagreement. The Somali people must study this situation carefully. The people of the
world should do [word indistinct]. The fighting Somali opposition forces, who have seen
everything that has happened and can even see what is to come, have always been
against such things. I believe that the Somali people will not let this continue.

[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, once the situation reaches that level, it is certain that
the Somali people will rise up and struggle against any colonizer. It is also certain that
the level of struggle against Siyaad Barre has increased in the country, as you have
said here tonight. We would like you to tell the Somali people about the extent of the
liberation struggle spearheaded by the armed Somali opposition forces.

[Silanyo] As you said, it is quite clear that the present system in the country is not in
the interests of the people. It suppresses the people, kills them, herds them into prisons,
destroys the economy, and makes living conditions worse.

When this became clear, all the people began to oppose it. We know and strongly
believe that 99 percent of the Somali people, wherever they may be, whether inside
the country or abroad, can now be described as open rebels with no confidence in the
system. However, there are many different kinds of people. There are some who stay in
the country to protect their interests.Some face circumstances in which they cannot rise
up or do anything about the system which they are witness-ing. There are some who
get their way.

There are others who hate the system in their hearts. Many of them remain outside
and inform the world of the suppression and oppression to which people are subjected.
But they are not organized. The two organizations which are armed and organized in
every sense and who lead the opposition are the SNM and the DFSS. The level of this
struggle is satisfactory in every way. It inspires a lot of confidence that the system will
be toppled, overthrown and brought to its knees. There is no doubt that the struggle is

gaining ground daily. It has inflicted heavy losses on the fascist system's army in arms,
equipment and other ways. Politically the people have been alienated from him.

The people are working for the struggle because of his oppression. The struggle is at
a good level and it has a lot of confidence. On the battlefields we have the upper hand.
His radio stations do not report this fact. The surprising thing is that when their letters
are intercepted, like that of Morgan, which has received a lot pub-licity and comment in
the international press they tell lies about winning a victory and inflicting certain losses
in such and such a place, when actually they did nothing of the sort and the truth is to
the contrary.

The children of many people have been shaved and taken away to fight in other
regions. Their parents and relatives do not know where they are. The system does not
disclose their whereabouts. It hides the truth but it knows the extent of its casualties.

In short we say that, whether inside or outside, the just struggle against Said Barre has
the upper hand and is full of confidence.

Final victory is certain, however long it may take. The last battle to be reported by
Radio Halgan was 2 or 3 days ago, when they were badly beaten. So, the struggle is
continuing. It will continue and go on to victory, God grant.

[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, after the struggling Somali peo-ple began to win
the political and armed struggle, the unreason-able regime resorted to cowardly
acts inspired by fear, that is, the assassination at SNM bases of personalities who
spearheaded the struggle in the SNM wing of the Somali opposition forces, for example
Col Adan Shaykh Mahmud Ali Shine and Col Abd al-Qadir Kosar. What light can you
throw on this matter for the Somali people?

[Silanyo] First, as you said, they were killed at SNM combat bases, while discharging
their duties. We ask God to rest their souls in peace. They were martyred and died for a
just cause, the cause of the Somali people. We say their death was a just one. May God
console their bereaved relatives? We see that they did their duty. They died for a just
cause that is being continued by the Somali people.

Their death will not be in vain. We inform the Somali people that the struggle for which
these men died and suffered martyrdom will encourage the people. The struggle will
never be crippled by such acts. Their martyrdom will fuel the struggle be redoubled

[HALGAN Fighter chairman, it is true that the worlds' mass media have been
commenting on Somalia. They show a correct picture of the true situation in Somalia.
But sometimes, for whatever reason, they distort the objectives of the armed Somali
opposition forces. It is our duty to clarify this for the Somali people.

[Silanyo] The world's mass media comment widely on the sit-uation in Somalia, mostly
giving the true situation, exposing the violation of human rights, the injustices, the clan-

based rule, the weak economy, and hard living conditions. When reporting the struggle,
they tell the truth most of the time. However, because of different interests and levels
of information some radio stations and papers employing various journalists wrongly
report. Some of them say, as the BBC did in its commentary on my speech of 26 June,
that the SNM is clan-orientated.

All the people are suffering and are oppressed. They all suffer from bad government.
Misuses of public funds, destruction of life, insecurity, suppression, lack of freedom and
lack of democracy have affected everyone.

The fact that special pressure is applied to the northern regions where the struggle
is more intense needs no explanation. The armed struggle is more intensified there.
My point is that in whatever region and place, the struggle that is taking place is a
Somali struggle whose objectives and aspirations are based on the removal of that
cruel system which is characterized by inhumanity, greed, bad politics, ignorance, and

When it is said that a clan or a family is singled out, it is true because when the clan or
the family uses public funds that are common to all Somali people, is dictatorial, ignores
the face of freedom, and wants to establish an outdated feudal monarchy, which has
never existed in Somalia, it cannot be accepted. I hereby clarify that we are not against
a clan or an innocent group, as Siyaad Barre is wronging, killing and spying. We want
to remove all injustices and associated problems in the country.

If the economy has collapsed, if there is no security, if women and children are being
massacred and subjected to indecencies, if the pastoralists are being obliterated, if
neither a shaykh nor an intellectual nor youth is safe, if the people have been reduced
to exile within and without, if the learned have been finished all these call for the fight of
a nation. It is not right to interpret that liberation struggle as a fight against a particular
group. We do not want to harm anybody. We just want our rights.

[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, now you have spoken on the general situation of the
country and the level of the struggle, and you have thrown some light on the issues we
discussed, Radio Halgan finally asks you to say what you call on Somali people to do.

[Silanyo] It is clear what the Somali people are being called upon to do, and it is what
we are discussing. They have been called upon many times before. Most of the people
are not without information. Therefore, we call on Somali people not to accept and
not to endure. Join us, give full support to the struggle, and perform your role. Lives
are sacrificed for liberation and free-dom. They are sacrificed for, fought for, moved
for, cried for, and demonstrated for. So we say rise up. You must not sit if your house,
camels, wife, and children are not safe. You know this very well. There is nothing to
wait for. Rise up and join the struggle and move forward with the fight. Thank you. THE

With that in mind, Ahmed Silaanyo continued his devotion to politics in order to
bring to fruition his vision and aspiration. The winning manifesto presented to

the public by Kulmiye party, the party of the President was directly translated
from the aims and the objectives of SNM. It's ultimate aim being to build a nation
where rule of the law is the custom.

To change our people for better quality of life, calls for economic development
and enhancement of education, health and social justice. In their turn these
dignified objectives can be achieved by eradicating corruption and implementing
righteous principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Today the President Silanyo is at the helm. He has all intentions and commitment,
as well as power albeit limited by circumstances, to leave a legacy of
accomplishing the ultimate goal of SNM. (Somaliland, where rule of the law is the
norm). The expectation of the public is very high, for they value this leadership
dear. It is a huge responsibility and it's realization demands teamwork and can do
attitude from all levels and sectors of government, as well as understanding and
cooperation from the public.

Stand for the aspiration of our people, those who struggled so long and hard to
have basic human rights: rights for employment, shelter, education, better heath,
justice, security, equal right to national resource and wealth, and many more.

United we succeed, divided we fail.

Mr. Ahmed H Arwo

Somaliland Presidential Advisor on
Economy, commerce and Investments