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Published On: Sat, Aug 27th, 2016

Somaliland:Mayor Abdirahman Soltelco: Hargeisa’s Hardworking Mayor

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By: Robleh Mohamud Lafcanbe

Recently, the popular Q&A programme “Qanci Dadkaaga” that airs on Horn Cable TV, featured the Mayor of Hargeisa, Abdirahman M. Aideed “Soltelco”.

As usual, the programme began with a conference hall packed with enthusiastic citizens, eager to question the latest guest on “Qanci Dadkaaga”. Puzzlingly, by the end of the programme, the ordinary viewer watching at home found themselves wondering if this was a staged Q&A programme, attempting to undermine the Mayor.

The programme – from beginning to end – appeared to be more of a kangaroo court than a typical question & answer session. The “questions” from audience members consisted of numerous calls for Mayor Soltelco to resign and harsh accusations of negligence and mismanagement of public funds.

One might argue that these should be taken as valid claims. However, Mayor Soltelco’s solid track record strongly proves otherwise. Moreover, the Mayor’s overall public opinion significantly trumps what was portrayed throughout the programme.

The administration of this latest programme and HCTV’s video editing should also raise many eyebrows. To many, it seems quite clear that Horn Cable TV and the program host were intent on airing staged accusations and silencing any praise for the Mayor. This became evident early on in the program, when the host attempted to silence a young woman who was attempting to ask the Mayor a positive question.

In addition to that, the initial advertisement of “Qanci Dadkaaga & Mayor Soltelco” that was circulated on social media earlier this week, concluded with a clip of a visibly angry Mayor Soltelco – which led many people to believe that the Mayor was furious with the audience and couldn’t handle the questions being asked.

When the programme was officially released, the ordinary viewer was able to a witness a composed and articulate Mayor, responding to wild accusations.

Some of the many bizarre instances that occurred during the programme included several demands for the Mayor to declare his assets on the spot and to solemnly swear that he has not acquired wealth via public office.

According to Article 82 (9) and Article 85 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, the President and the Vice-President are the only public officials that are legally compelled to declare their assets – on specific occasions. That is, of course, legally compelled to providing financial documents to the Auditor General and not to the average citizen demanding numbers in Green Plaza!

The programme host should have told those individuals to direct their energy on campaigning for constitutional referendum rather than badgering the Mayor with unwarranted demands.

In today’s society, media plays a key role in forming public opinion. Sadly, in Somaliland, TV networks use this power by promoting irresponsible and unfounded accusations to form negative public opinion of certain politicians.

During the program, Mayor Soltelco also interestingly mentioned that many of the smear campaigns that target him, derive from those furious of him placing the public interest over private interests.

By taking a closer look at Mayor Soltelco’s achievements over the past four years, many can conclude that he has in fact prioritized the public interest above all other interests. The Mayor’s achievements also provide greater explanation as to why he has been subject to co-ordinated smear campaigns.

Some of Mayor Soltelco’s achievements include, but are not limited to:

1) Increasing the number of vehicles and equipment for the Local Government

2) The revamping and construction of numerous bridges and roads

3) Installation of solar street lights and traffic lights throughout the city

4) Successfully implementing decentralization (Local Government and Hargeisa’s districts)

5) Cracking down on bureaucratic corruption within district offices and Local Government Headquarters

6) Strengthening co-operation between Hargeisa’s local government and the central government and tirelessly advocating for the city.

7) Initiating municipal tax reform

Despite these achievements, there are still many pressing issues that need to be addressed. These issues not only require co-operation from the local and central government – but also from the residents of Hargeisa.

Issues such as the growing amount of garbage on the streets of Hargeisa, requires the public to play a much greater role. Many initiatives to beautify the city have been launched by the local government in the past, but have never reached its full potential due to constant littering by the public.

In order to successfully tackle these issues, co-operation between the residents of Hargeisa and the local government should be enhanced. The local government headed by Mayor Soltelco, should consider establishing a Citizen Advisory Board. The board will consist of ordinary residents appointed by city council to undertake studies and provide policy recommendations. This will bridge the gap between the local government and residents and strengthen their relationship for the better.

All in all, credit must be given where credit is due. Since Abdirahman Soltelco became Mayor, Hargeisa has become a vibrant and modern city. In order for Hargeisa to become a world-class city, its residents must stand united against those pursuing personal agendas – and support those who strive for a better Hargeisa like Mayor Abdirahman Soltelco.

The author of this article can be reached at robleh.m@gmail.com or on Twitter – @RM_Laf

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