Somaliland:President Silanyo Annual Address Speech
Annual Address of the President of Republic of Somaliland at National Assemblies
H.E. President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Silanyo
Monday, 11th January 2016
In the name of Allah, the most magnificent, The Most Benevolent,
Thanks to Allah, It is to Him that praise belongs.
May peace, Mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my great honour to appear here today before you on this, the 6th occasion to address both National Assemblies, the House of the Representatives and the Guurti for our annual address.
Ladies and Gentlemen, despite formidable challenges, I am greatly pleased to report that my administration has continued to realize transformative changes and implemented wide reaching policies, which have further advanced our nation as a whole.
While I do not want to dwell much the past achievements, I would like to concentrate on several important areas that have impacted the people of Somaliland:
1) Foreign affairs policy.
2) Somaliland-Somalia talks.
3) Registrations and elections.
4) Economy Devaluation of Somaliland currency.
5) Strengthening of security.
6) Good governance.
7) Judiciary and Justice.
- Foreign Affairs Policy
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have exerted great efforts to protect and advance the integral independence of Somaliland. During the tenure of my administration, we have reinforced bilateral relations with our neighbouring countries, as well as advanced strategic cooperation with key partners, including the Arab countries, Member States of the European Union and the United States.
You are aware of the successful efforts of the national assemblies of the Sheffield, Cardiff and Tower Hamlets in the United Kingdom, which unilaterally recognized the independence of Somaliland in recognition of its longstanding stability and viability. It is our hope that these bold and courageous steps encourage more serious consideration of Somaliland’s unique case within the UK Parliament and Her Majesty’s Government more widely. We believe these initial steps to be great triumphs achieved as a nation. We are indebted to the honourable persons who made this possible in collaboration with Somaliland-Diaspora, who had worked tirelessly in service of their nation and people. We honour them.
My administration is determined to maintain good relations with the international community and advance strategic cooperation, as appropriate. Our long standing special relationship in particular with Ethiopia and Djibouti remains undiminished and stronger than ever as we seek to further strengthen economic and security cooperation, including stepping up the fight against terrorism and piracy, boosting commerce and dealing with the consequences of trans-boundary population movements.
During the following year, we plan to re-double our foreign policy efforts by seeking to:
- Advance efforts in the search for international recognition. To assist in this, I will establish a dedicated High-Level Advisory Committee.
- Mobilize the Somaliland Diaspora the world over in service of their nation and people.They remain a formidable force to be reckoned with.
- Explore avenues for international legal remedies and arbitration regarding Somaliland’s undeniable aspirations for recognition.
- Streamline our foreign policy direction to enhance our existing capacities in order to more successfully achieve our strategic interests.
On 18 May 2016, the Republic of Somaliland will celebrate 25 years of its independence. Given the recent history of the African continent, including the challenges to stability in this part of the world, this is a remarkable achievement and testament to Somaliland’s unflinching resolve. I believe it represents a historical turning point worthy of global recognition.
During a period of increasing tensions globally, I take this opportunity to condemn the wilful destruction of the Saudi Embassy in Iran. The Somaliland government is completely against the Iranian destabilizations of the Middle East and the Red Sea maritime route.
- Somaliland vs Somalia Talks
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Government of Somaliland remains ready to revitalize the Somaliland-Somalia talks under the right circumstances – once its assured of its credibility and seriousness. In addition, Somaliland calls for the inclusion of a broader range of international actors to further energise the process and ensure its successful conclusion.
Somaliland has continued to follow developments in neighbouring Somalia and welcomes on-going stabilization and democratisation efforts. However, we take this opportunity to reiterate that the Republic of Somaliland remains outside of any processes related to the federation of neighbouring Somalia.
Groups or individuals professing to speak on behalf of Somaliland, whom are engaged with the federal political processes in Somalia, and have not been instructed by the Government of Somaliland – do not represent the will of the people of Somaliland, its elected Government officials or its chosen representatives. The inclusion and legitimisation of these individuals constitutes a wilful act of provocation undermining other legitimate forums for constructive engagement between the Governments of Somaliland and Somalia.
Recently, we have become aware of covert acts supported by Somalia officials calculated to jeopardise our hard won stability and security. In particular, they have sought to target our on-going registration and election processes. Such ill-advised provocations shall remain fruitless and ultimately, will backfire on those seeking to sow discord. Somaliland will not tolerate any actions seeking to undermine its stability and security, and will respond without hesitation to safeguard its people and interests. The territorial integrity of Somaliland remains sacred and indivisible.
Baseless divisions and rivalry, compounded by injustice and the abuse of basic rights have sought to divide Somalis in the region for generations. Mutual respect, the advancement of democratic open institutions, and the enforcement of basic human rights, including the right to self-determination, shall remain the bedrock of any peaceful co-existence in the future.
At this juncture, once again let me take this opportunity to briefly remind all of the uniqueness of the Somaliland’s remarkable story:
- Somaliland attained its independence from Great Britain on the 26 June 1960 before joining the voluntary union with former Italian Somalia.
- The Republic of Somaliland re-asserted it’s Independence in a proclamation on the 18th of May 1991 following the national reconciliation conference in Burao, attended by the widest spectrum of political and traditional leaders constituted of all the peoples of Somaliland.
- The people of Somaliland overwhelmingly endorsed Somaliland’s independence in a referendum later that same year.
Somaliland’s statehood and its claim for international recognition is not born out of a baseless aspiration. Rather it is had been hard won through decades of toil, stability, persistence and self-reliance. Its claim is based on legitimate international legal norms and the unrelenting will of its people. I believe our just clarion call will be heard, it must be heard.
- Registration and Election
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you may be aware, my administration has for the first time in the history of the nation conducted the successful registration of citizens. This monumental national task was made possible through direct state oversight and funding without any foreign assistance. I’m very pleased to report that at this juncture, more than 70% of Somalilanders have been registered.
We must stress, however, that this registration process is distinct from that required for the voter registration process. The system is designed with built-in safeguards in order to prevent citizens from registering twice.
The voter registration process is expected to commence later this month, on 16 January 2016 in the Togdheer region. Under the overall management of the National Electoral Commission, I strongly urge all Somaliland citizens to register themselves as a matter of national civic responsibility without delay.
As you know, I have voluntarily decided not to seek a second Presidential term, while it is my constitutional right to do so. Instead, in order to leave a lasting legacy, I am fully committed to solidifying the undeniable transformative achievements of my administration and shepherding the country towards a successful, democratic and peaceful transition that sees Somaliland claim its rightful place in the international community of states. In particular, I shall focus on re-doubling efforts to further improve the livelihoods of the population and increase access to basic services, including through the creation of economic opportunities, as well as social and civic development projects.
I remain fully committed to working with the relevant institutions of the State in holding of free and fair elections in a timely and expeditious manner. In this context, I call upon the National Election Commission to exercise its tasks diligently and faithfully, at all times safeguarding its neutrality.
At the same time, I strongly urge all political party leaders and other engaged actors in the upcoming elections to conduct themselves in a responsible and mature manner befitting the honourable office under contention. While I support a robust and free competition, we will not tolerate any wilful actions that threaten the security, stability and cohesion of Somaliland and its people.
- Economy: Devaluation and use of Somaliland/Sh.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
While we are immensely proud of our local currency, over the course of the last year, the Somaliland shilling has continued to be strongly challenged by market fluctuations exacerbated by the increasing availability and use of foreign currencies, notably the United States Dollar. Naturally, this has adversely impacted the value of the Somaliland shilling.
In order to diminish further negative consequences and increase stabilisation, my administration will undertake a number of concrete measures:
- The government will enforce the use of the Somaliland Shilling as the primary legal tender for all economic transactions.
- The government will aim to work towards an exchange rate of 6000 Somaliland/Shillings to the United States Dollar. In order to do this, we will bolster the power of the Central Bank allowing it sufficient leeway to control devaluation and associated corresponding rates.
While we remain immensely proud of our internationally innovative Electronic Cash Systems, including Zaad, E-Dahab, as well as our well-established larger money-transfer corporations, they continue to operate through the use of foreign currencies. As such, they too will have to be part of the overall solution.
As a first step, I appeal to the operators and the users (including members of the public) of the electronic cash systems to prioritise the use of the national currency.
At the same time, we shall continue to promote foreign direct investment in the commercial and banking sectors to strengthen the economy and increase hard currency liquidity.
I welcome the continued diversification of our economy, and encourage the exploration of new emerging areas, as well as the intensification of production in existing key industry sectors, including agriculture, fisheries and livestock making use of the bounty provided by our country.
- Strengthening Security
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Peace and stability remain the foundation upon which Somaliland is built, without which progress and development would not be possible. With the mercy of God, we remain a nation, today, where peace prevails. However, that does not mean we are immune to the insecurity and challenges prevailing in this volatile region of the horn of Africa.
In recognition of this volatility, my administration has placed the utmost importance on maintaining peace and security, which remains non-negotiable. We have taken concrete measures to further fortify our national frontiers, including by land, sea and air. In addition, my administration has placed particular emphasis on:
- Trans-boundary population movements, in particular the routes of travel between Somaliland and Somalia.
- Migration movements focusing on foreign immigrants who reside and work in the country illegally.
- Human trafficking by foreigners who use Somaliland as a illegal transport route.
The citizens of the Republic of Somaliland must remain extra vigilant and collaborate with the State actors to be on the lookout for those trying to jeopardise their hard won security. With the support of international partners, my administration has continued to provide additional capacity building, training and support to security personnel and the security forces, including the military and police. To boost morale and improve standards, we have also continued to review their scale of remunerations and ranking systems.
In this country, we are Muslims. The organs of the State continue to collaborate with the religious leaders in teaching and disseminating traditional Islamic values and principles based on a shared humanity and peace. We remain firmly united against any nefarious foreign ideologies and forms of extremism that seeks to undermine this nation’s hard won stability and security. We will respond robustly and without hesitation to counter any destabilising actions.
I call upon thereligious leaders of Somaliland, in particularly those who run the Madarasas, Mosques and other religious and education centres throughout the country to guide against radicalisation and the emergence of teachings and behaviours that are incompatible with the values of the Islam and our way of life. Once again I appeal to the population at large to continue to selflessly cooperate and work in partnership with the various security actors and to remain vigilant.
- Good Governance and fight against Corruption
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Throughout the world and in all situations – corruption, mismanagement and the misappropriation of national resources remains the biggest impediment to national growth and development.
From the very start, my administration has fought to improve systems, increase transparency and stamp out corruption and mismanagement where it has found it. That fight will continue. It has recently become commonplace for certain groups and opposition politicians to baselessly accuse my administration of malpractices. I believe those claims to be malicious, solely intended to gain empty publicity and entirely without basis truth or facts. Profiteering at the expense of public, discrimination and disadvantaging within society on the basis of lineage or clan background are hallmarks of short-sighted leaders.
As the nation is aware, I am not new to public office. My long record on fighting corruption and mismanagement at all levels is well documented and known. I have fought my entire life in the interests of the people of Somaliland. In that time, I never prioritized my personal needs and interests to the detriment of the public.
While public debate and constructive criticisms remain the hallmark of an open society and is to be encouraged, we must be careful not to unfairly malign each other without any substantiation or basis in facts because this only emboldens our enemies and those who don’t wish to see our country reach new levels of progress.
Since coming to power, my administration has taken a number of concrete measures to improve the management of resources and increase transparency. The government has:-
- Centralised and redirected resources and funds from livestock export, the national petroleum storage facilities and Berbera Port Authority directly into the national treasury.
- Reclaimed previously State-owned properties, which had fallen into the hands of private sector. In accordance with article 12 of the Constitution, the properties were sold on the market and the funds received were deposited into the national treasury. In total, almost 36 billion Somaliland Shillings ($6m USD) was raised from the sales equating to 2.96% of the national budget.
- Established an independent Anti-Corruption Agency charged with the task of good governance and fighting corruption.
Unlike any other previous Somaliland administration, and in recognition of the good governance and financial improvement systems we have put in place, my government has successfully submitted a balanced budget in a timely manner – accordance with legislative requirements – every year since coming to power.
We have also put in place appropriate laws to address public embezzlement, corruption and public asset mismanagement. Consequently, as a result of improved transparency and efficiency the national budget has increased from approximately 47m USD in 2010 (310 billion SL/shillings to 203m USD in 2016 (1 trillion 128 billion SL/shillings). This is a remarkable accomplishment by any stretch of the imagination.
- Judiciary and Justice
Ladies and gentlemen,
Lastly, the rule of law and in particular, the judicial sector remains a central pillar of our society. To strengthen our systems and improve access to justice, a whole scale reform of our judicial system was critical. To lead these improvements, I appointed Justice Aden Haji Ali Ahmed as the Chairman of Supreme Court to oversee a wide-scale change, which is now taking root.
A number of judicial reforms are envisaged for the coming year, including:
- Establishment of an academy for the training of judicial magistrates and officials to improve their skills.
- Law reform on the Rights of Magistrates.
- Establishment a law library and research centre for the judiciary and lawyers.
- Creation of Judicial Review Committees.
- Installation of court video recordings during proceedings, notably in more remote regional areas, such as the Maroodi-jeeh region.
- Establishment of national records archives for the judiciary sector.
- Increased mobile circuit courts to expand access to justice for more rural areas.
- Construction of new courts in critical gap areas.
- Increased pay for judicial sector workers.
- Reinforced links between Somaliland’s judicial sector and those in the region and elsewhere to build capacity and expand links.