By Ali Mohamed
Lewis Center, Ohio—It is usually common in Africa for incumbent presidents to use government resources for their re-election campaigns. But Somaliland’s president, Silanyo, went too far, when he decided to use a British funded and trained anti terrorism force known as the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), intended to fight terrorism, for his 2015 re-election campaign.
Last week, a unit of the Rapid Response team, with masked faces, at 2am raided the home of former Somaliland’s deputy security minister, Abdullahi Abokar, brutalizing him, his wife and his five children ( ages 9 months to 9 years old). Luckily, no one was killed, but one of his security guards was wounded.
According to an interview with the local TV Horn Cable, his wife, Sadia Ali, described the terror she faced on the night of the raid. She said, “The RRU used a British supplied lethal weapons intended for terrorist against my family including my 5 children.” She added, “They knocked out the windows of the house by using grenades and the then threw tear gas and ransacked our house.” The heavily armed men fired inside the home 60 to 80 rounds of gunfire in rapid succession from their automatic weapons.
“This well armed group is reminding the Somaliland people the darkest times of the former military “Faqash” regime.” Mohamed Olhaye, a neighbor of Abokar, told to a local TV reporter.
The raid on Abokar’s home, a former government official, was a callous disregard for the safety and security of his family and neighbors. There is no way how Silanyo could justify the midnight raids of his well armed thugs, without any search warrant, terrorizing a law abiding citizen instead of fighting the actual terrorists.
And according to the local media, before the raid, Abokar used to walk freely daily on the streets of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital. His wife says that if the police wanted to arrest or bring him in for interrogation; they could have easily obtained an arrest from the local court. But under Silanyo, the rule of law does not exist.
Because Silanyo is not democrat and does not tolerate dissent, the midnight invasion of Abokar’s home came right after he backed the chairman of the ruling Kulmiye party, Muse Bihi—an insurgent candidate–who is challenging President Silanyo for 2015 presidential nomination.
Moreover, Abokar, in a recent press conference, alleged that some members of Silanyo’s cabinet members might have ties with terror organizations.
Because of the seriousness of his allegations, consequently, the government is fighting back with deadly force, like a criminal gang, to silence him.
More worrisome, Somaliland’s Minister of the Interior, Ali “Warran-Adde” Mohamed, (a remnant of the notorious intelligence services of the former military ‘Faqash” regime), and the police chief defended his arrest and the way the raid was carried out. Even though, neither the interior Ministry nor the Police have direct control over the anti terrorist unit. But the President himself controls the Rapid Response Unit.
However, this not the first time the anti-terrorism force has been employed in a non terrorism related scenario. In fact, throughout Somaliland the RRU teams have been used by the government to harass and arrest journalists, politicians as well as ordinary citizens who are peacefully assembled to back candidates of their choice for the upcoming elections.
For instance, last week, at the port city Berbera, the RRU and the local police arrested two elected council members and the head of the Kulmiye party in the region, because they took part a rally to show support for presidential candidate Bihi.
Moreover, in December 2012, The anti-terrorism force was called to break up a peaceful demonstration over the dispute of the results of local elections. Three people were shot to death and nine other were wounded by the live bullets of Silanyo’s well armed killers in the south side of Hargeisa.
The British government has moral responsibility to make sure the force it is training should not be used to “punish and suppress” ordinary people who are dissatisfied the bad governance and the massive corruption Silanyo is presiding over.
Since Silanyo lost authority and legitimacy to rule after he disregarded the rule of the law. Now, he resorted to threat, intimidation and violence. However, midnight raids with armed men in black uniforms, whose main mission is to “terrorize” innocent people—is not going to help for his 2015 re-election campaign. Instead it would lead into more grievances and eventually insurrection.
But how long will the Somaliland people tolerate, for the sake of keeping indigenous democracy and peace, this well armed aggressive violent group (RRU), funded by British taxpayers’ money, operating under the guise of fighting terrorism, terrorizing or killing more innocent Somalilanders?
Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation. It is a grassroots organization, located in Lewis Center, Ohio that advocates for the advancement of freedom and democratic values for the indigenous people of the Horn of Africa. He can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.