By Adan H Iman
There is an open feud in Hargeisa between the Administration of President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo and the independent media in general and in particular between the Minister of Mineral Resources Hussein Duale and the owner of Haatuf newspapers, Yusuf Gabobe. Both sides can be faulted for making errors in judgment.
The Somaliland people expect the Administration to exercise the powers given to them by the people prudently and in a manner consistent with the constitution and the laws of the country. Somaliland is a constitutional democracy that protects the freedom of the press. That freedom extends to even when offensive information is disseminated. The government can not criminalize the act of publishing material that is offensive by putting journalists in jail or closing newspapers or denying the citizens to watch a certain TV station. The administration did this and they have to reverse those actions.
There have been palpable tensions between the press and successive administration-Egal, Rayale and Silanyo. It can said that while sitting presidents won battles by imprisoning journalists or closing the operations of their newspapers, the media won the overall war because its still reporting aggressively and will continue to be here as long as Somaliland is constitutional democracy.
On the other side, journalists must exercise the right that was given to them by the constitution prudently. Yusuf Duhul, whose journal, DALKA, was the first independent journal in the 1960s, taught us that journalists need not be pro or against the government but just pursue the facts no matter where the facts leads them to. So it is important the material they publish is accurate and thoroughly vetted. While I’m not privy to what is happening in Hargeisa, I know some material published by Haatuf is inaccurate. This relates to the brother of the Minister of Mineral Resources. Mohamed is medical technologist and his wife, Fadumo earned a PhD in the US. They had been with us in Los Angeles until they sold their house here around 1998 and moved with their two small children to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dr. Fadumo is UAE national as are her sisters and mother and father. It is needless to say that UAE nationals because of the resources of their country have privileges and opportunities. To insinuate that a property owned by this family in the UAE is somehow linked to the minister is illogical and hurtful. .
If each Administration respects the constitutional guarantees of the freedom of the press and the journalist adhere to the ethical standard of their profession, we may see less and less of those tensions. It is in the interest of both parties to find a way out of this standoff so that at least the journalists who found themselves out of work can return to work to earn a living- in a place where there are many jobs anyway- and practice their profession. There is no justification for this irrational feud to continue.