The Stench of Hypocrisy Rising From Hargeisa
At an impromptu press conference held at the Presidential Palace in the wee hours of the night of 29th September 2011 when almost everyone in Somaliland was fast asleep, president Ahmed Silanyo came down from his upstairs residence, huffing and puffing with anger, and appeared before a hastily arranged television news cameras in his office.
The president uncharacteristically launched a blistering attack on Faisal Ali Warabe, the leader of the Welfare and Justice Party known by its Somali acronym, UCID.
“I would like to talk about the opposition parties namely UDUB and UCID, especially Faisal Ali Warabe, with particular reference to his recent utterances and the offensive words that keep tumbling out of his mouth to which he has become accustomed whenever he miserably fails to perform his duties and responsibilities and finds himself in a difficult situation.” the president said angrily, frothing at the corners of his mouth.
“Knowing his negative place in history, his snitching on UFO (elite volunteers group) colleagues, he still has the audacity to continue to use offensive remarks and disgusting language, which no one can stand. Mr. Faisal, the people know your unsavoury past and how much support in terms of votes [presidential elections] you have received from them. You know that the people have reached their decision and held their noses against you [presidential election loss]. They said to you: uf [Yuck, you’re so disgusting] even though you invoked clanism and claimed that Hargeysa is yours. You are the one who was saying ‘I will go to the South [return back to the fold]’.
Every day, you are there, making nonsensical speeches and people have witnessed your alarming display of hateful, offensive and bigoted words and actions. Enough is enough. We will no longer tolerate and be at the receiving end of your unacceptable behaviour.” the president ended his statement and returned back to his residence without answering any questions.
The president’s press conference have been aired in its entirety on the state controlled television, SLNT, uncut and unedited.
The nation reeled with shock and jaw-dropping disbelief as these comments had been bereft of the diplomacy expected of a leader of Silanyo’s pedigree. There were howls of rage and cheers of gratitude from both sides of the political divide.
In fairness, the president has gone overboard in his deeply passionate attack on Faisal as he delivered hammer-like blows that were way below the belt. Stunned and speechless, Faisal found himself on the ropes and had no option other than to throw in the white towel.
On many an occasion Faisal took jabs at the president but this time the president gleefully hit Faisal where it hurts most and sent him scurrying away from the public arena for a good while. And the land finally had a rest from the loudmouth opposition leader.
Until now, it remains somewhat bizarre to this date why Faisal’s comments triggered such strong emotional response from the president. Apparently, Faisal inadvertently pressed a hot political button, which he shouldn’t have pressed.
This highly controversial public outburst against Faisal was not only limited to the President.
Five months earlier, in February, 2011, the minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Mohammed Abdillahi Omer, had angrily reacted to remarks made by Faisal Ali Warabe.
Faisal exhibited with much bravado in his showdown with the foreign minister by openly and publicly accusing him of committing “a high treason” because of his attendance to, and participation in, the Wilton Park Conference on Somalia held in the UK in February 2011. Although there was some truth in his statement in the sense that the minister had actually participated in the Wilton Park conference which was mainly concerned with Somalia’s affairs nonetheless the remarks that the minister committed a high treason was not only grossly unfair but had gone far beyond the limit of acceptability.
“We believe that this constitutes a high treason and the minister should be brought before a court of law. Those who believe otherwise are only looking at things through clan lenses.” said Faisal Ali Warabe.
“If Mohammed [foreign minister] participates in another conference on Somalia, then he will definitely not going to represent me; and cannot speak for me. I want to make it perfectly clear, unless he should desist from attending these conferences on Somalia without consultation, I, too, will go to Somalia on behalf of my clan or my own behalf.” Faisal’s statement could not have been more clear and explicit.
The minister took off the kid gloves and came out swinging, “One of those opposition members who are misleading the public about the purpose of this conference [Wilton Park] is the leader of UCID, Faisal Ali Warabe, whom I personally perceive him as a failed politician. He failed in his presidential bid twice after the people had resoundingly rejected him in national elections. His abject failure stems from his unsettledness and chameleon-like behaviour of changing from one personality to another.” The minister did not end his attack there but he was yet to reserve his most scathing attack on Faisal.
The minister continued: “Faisal said that the participation of Somaliland in Wilton Park conference could lead to the disintegration of the country into clan fiefdoms. We see that such statement are solely intended to create a situation detrimental to the national security of the country. I do not know any Somaliland citizen who has committed treason against this country other than Faisal himself. Faisal has not yet cleared himself of the charges of espionage that he committed against his UFO comrades.”
Although more often than not the president and his foreign minister rarely sing from the same page, this time around they marched in lockstep with each other in their ferocious, no-holds-barred attack on Faisal.
As evident from these statement, the president and the foreign minister both categorically stated that Faisal is not only a man who wants to return [Somaliland] back to the fold [Somalia] but rather he is a man who could not be trusted because of his past treachery.
Many people relied on Faisal for his unflinching and robust defense against proponents of greater Somalia. But this time Faisal had gone beyond the fence of Somaliland. He went to see an old friend of his who is currently serving as an ambassador for Somalia’s TFG in the UAE. According to BBC Somali radio interview, Faisal asked the ambassador to arrange an appointment for him to meet with president Sheikh Sharif who was coming there for a private visit. Finally, Faisal met with Sheikh Sharif. No one knows what transpired between Faisal and Sheikh Sharif other than what Faisal told the press. This is the same Fiasal who said in the past “a child born in Addis Ababa is closer to me than a child born in Mogadishu.”
Yet, the president and his foreign minister who castigated Faisal mercilessly in their press conferences recently appointed him to be a leading member of Somaliland government’s official negotiating team assigned to negotiate with Somalia about the future relationship of the two countries. In other words, the maverick opposition leader that both the president and his foreign minister told us in the clearest language possible that he is a treacherous man have now been allowed to be privy to the sensitive information and confidential negotiations between Somaliland and Somalia. Can you smell the foul odour of hypocrisy here?
When the president, who is the highest authority in the land, holds a press conference and appears on the TV, we ought to believe his word. And needless to say his word carry a considerable weight. But what about when the president say something but does another as in this case.
Was the president feeding us propaganda when he held the press conference at midnight and could not even wait until the morning? Was the foreign minister lying to the public when he described Faisal as a man with treacherous past?
If both the president and minister were not telling us the truth in their press conferences, shouldn’t they have apologized to Faisal and to the public at large?
How would the president explain the glaring inconsistency in which he and his minister branded Faisal a treacherous man as well as someone who wants to return back to the fold [Somalia] and at the same time allow him to be a member of the government’s official negotiating team? This hypocrisy rising from the presidential palace and foreign office can be smelled from miles away.
The office of The President is synonymous with duty, respect, trust, leadership, and making the best decisions and taking the best actions.
It is also important to point out the principle that a public office is a public trust.
When there is a lack of trust there is continuous suspicion and doubt about so many things unless the public trust is fully restored.
First, the government must stop taking refuge in hypocrisy and double-talk whenever it finds itself in a tight spot. Secondly, in order to restore some measure of credibility the government MUST reshuffle its negotiating team and make it an all inclusive team where there is no special interest group pulling at one end of the rope in their direction as is the case right now.
Until then, there will be a question mark hanging over the so-called successful outcome of the much-touted negotiations between Somaliland and Somalia because of the government’s apparent credibility deficit.