Somali elders in Jigjiga city of eastern Ethiopia expressed praise for the “special” Liyu Police on Friday as crime rates have significantly dropped in the region this year. The group of elders said the Liyuu police has become “a successful local solution for local problems.”
The “Liyu police” force was originally created after somali elders and somali intellectuals advised the federal government to be less involved in the security of the somali region and to empower local somalis defend themselves against cross border bandits and rebels, particularly the Ogaden ONLF militia.
However, some western NGOs have accused the Liyu police of human rights abuses in the past. Some Ethiopian activists have also showed concern about the Liyu police’s brutality. US based Ethiopian political analyst Teshome Borago told SomalilandPress that clan politics is reportedly influencing Liyu police activity. “If there is no proper federal government oversight, pre-existing somali clan rivalries will grow inside Liyu police and make the Ogaden an extension of the endless clan wars seen in Mogadishu,” he warned.
However, somalis in Jigjiga told SomalilandPress that Liyu police has brought hope and the economy is starting to grow despite lacking natural resources, including Oil which is yet to be discovered.
Mr. Abdirahman Yusuf, a local official of the Liyuu force, also accused ONLF supporters in the diaspora, especially in UK, of vilifying his Liyu police as a “failed strategy” to gain independence from Ethiopia. He said ONLF radio has recently broadcasted propaganda, by telling all ONLF supporters to solicit western NGO support to falsely depict Ogaden as a humanitarian crisis similar to South Sudan.
Yusuf previously blamed the ONLF for assassinating government officials and for using civilians in border regions as “human shield.” The Liyu police official added that ONLF agents are “brainwashing” somali migrants in neighboring countries to fabricate stories of abuses for the consumption of western media and rights groups.