Somaliland: Country Needs Massive Land, Police and Judicial Reforms
Two weeks ago, Somaliland police shot an eleven year old boy to death, another man died at police custody, and scores were wounded, in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital. The police also arrested Ahmed Hassan “Japan”, the father of the deceased boy, and the owner of some 1,200 Sqft of land at the west side of the city, facing the Hwy connecting Hargeisa to Gabiley. According to Somaliland social media, the police were executing an illegal order from Silanyo regime to seize Mr. Ahmed Hassan’s small plot of land, which was adjacent to a police station that government allegedly sold to unknown businessman.
Ahmed Hassan is a national hero. He was a member of the expeditionary unit the SNM in 1980’s war against Marxist despot Siad Barre. Instead, we should have honored and rewarded him more land; the corrupt Silanyo regime is not only seized his small real estate but it also killed his son. This is a tragedy. And whoever is responsible for this tragedy must be held accountable. What happened to Ahmed Hassan’ family is disgraceful. We owe to Ahmed Hassan and his family to get to the bottom why his son and other prisoner were killed?
Violence related to land disputes is very common in Hargeisa. In rural areas, everyone has carved out a piece of land for grazing or farming, and the government does not know who owns what and where.
For two decades, successive Somaliland leaders have failed to enact a land tenure system: a set of statutes that determines how land is used, owned, leveraged, leased, sold or in other ways disposed within society. That lack of statutory laws or policies to manage, administer, and distribute the land, led into more deadly “land grabbing” across Somaliland. But under Silanyo’s regime, this deadly ‘land grabbing”, and the selling government owned properties and land to private hands has skyrocketed.
In fact, Government officials use shady tactics, without any transparency, to sell or give for free, government properties such as warehouses, libraries, office buildings, houses, parks, and undeveloped public lands, to government connected business groups and their close families— a land that was not their legal properties under any law, in the first place.
Moreover, the mayor of Hargeisa, his deputy and some Hargeisa City council members are the culprits who are also fuelling the land disputes for financial gains. Instead of these elected officials running the daily tasks of the city like picking up the trash, repairing roads, and making the city streets safe and clean for the residents, they became rich, in Somaliland standard, by just manipulating a phony land titling and registration schemes.
Because of their knowledge of impending land registration, they usually register some land on the names of proxy persons. Then the land would be sold to the business communities or individuals for profit.
Today, in Hargeisa, it is dusty and congested, and there is no a government owned land for public use like cemetery, public utilities, parks, playgrounds, schools and clinics.
For five years, Silanyo has lost opportunity to make history because he failed to enact any meaningful land, police, judicial, and constitutional reforms.
Those reforms are needed for our system of government not only to work for ordinary Somalilanders but also to prove the rest of the world that Somaliland is serious about good governance.
Why does Silanyo, whose term has expired, now, is appointing a committee of more than a dozen of his ministers to come out a solution for the land disputes?
In fact, Silanyo and some of his ministers are the problems why today in Somaliland lawlessness prevails, political system is dysfunctional, judicial system is broken, and the son of a hero is getting killed by the police who were supposed to protect him, for simply protecting their properties.
I believe it is time the Do-Nothing legislature to stop bickering over the petty issues like what number of seats for each of specific sub-clans should get, and instead pass meaningful laws for a land tenure system —- coupled with a fair and honest enforcement and judicial system. The legislation should setup an agency of land management, which administer all matters of lands, because deadly land disputes affect our own national security.
Under this new agency would be responsible for conducing surveying and mapping for both rural and urban nationwide. The Surveying and mapping department would be responsible providing expertise and services of survey charts, plans and maps. Cadastral survey would be the source of land registry and title registration, which would identify the exact description and location of each land parcel at any moment. Definitely, this would require money and knowledgeable surveyors.
Land is a public resource. Equitable land distribution would give all Somalilanders access to resources and economic opportunity. What we have now is lawlessness that is only benefiting the few well connected— Silanyo’s cronies while the majority is patiently suffering for the hope the future would be better. But that future looks bleak as Silanyo is on the path of leaving his legacy as the man who squandered Somaliland’s quest for nationhood.
Lewis Center, Ohio