News from Hargeisa: Somaliland Presidential Election expected for sometime in June

Hargeysa, Somaliland, April 17, 2010 (SL Times) – The Chairman of Somaliland’s Election Commission Eng. Isse Yusuf Haji Muhammad revealed that they expect Somaliland’s presidential election to take place in June 2010. The Chairman gave this information in the context of elaborating on the election code of conduct that was recently signed by Somaliland’s political parties. He made these three points:

1- The electoral commission has done a lot in preparing for the election including opening offices throughout the country and selecting staff.

2- The voting cards will be distributed in the first two weeks of May.

3- The election is expected to be held in June, but the exact date has not been finalized yet.

See “Somaliland Finally Prepares for Presidential Polls” also from the Somaliland Times with additional background.

Somaliland Times editorial on delegation’s visit to White House

Former deputy chairman of parliament raises concern that NGO’s operating in Somaliland might participate in drafting constitution for Somalia in Nairobi and that this would in some way prejudice Somaliland which is not involved.

Today-Supreme Court hears oral argument in Samantar v. Yousuf–Somalia and Somaliland Torture Case (Updated)

NPR’s story from before the argument this morning.

For a recap of the today’s argument and other details see SCOTUSWiki on Samantar v. Yousuf

This site includes links to the various briefs, including the Amicus Brief filed by Foreign Minister Duale for the Republic of Somaliland in favor of Yousuf (the victims), and other supporting amicus briefs from three Democratic Members of Congress, Senators Spector and Feingold and Representative Lee, and from a group of former US diplomats including Princeton Lyman. The US Government also supported affirming the Fourth Circuit’s ruling overturning the District Court’s dismissal of the case on sovereign immunity grounds.

The Summary of Argument from the Somaliland brief:

TORTURE, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS AND THE ARBITRARY DETENTION OF SOMALI CITIZENS WERE ALL EXPRESSLY FORBIDDENBY THE CONSTITUTION THAT CREATED THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SOMALIA. SUCH ACTS THEREFORE COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN PERPETRATED UNDER ANY LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY GRANTED TO THE SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT OF SOMALIA OR ITS PUBLIC OFFICIALS. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY DOES NOT APPLY.

THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS HAS ENACTED STATUTES PROVIDING THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN-RIGHTS ABUSES A REMEDY WHEN THE PERPETRATORS OF THOSE ABUSES ARE FOUND WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THIS COUNTRY’S BORDERS. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE JUDICIAL PROCESS ENVISIONED BY THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS BE PERMITTED TO GO FORWARD SO THE EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN SOMALILAND AND THROUGHOUT THE REGION CAN BE REALIZED. MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE RULE OF LAW BE APPLIED TO THE PERPETRATORS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN-RIGHTS ABUSES WHEN THEY ARE FOUND WITHIN THE BORDERS OF THE UNITED STATES.

Amicus briefs supporting Samantar were filed by three former Republican Attorneys General, Meese, Barr and Thornburg, and by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Somaliland Times Carries ABC Story on civil suit in US for human rights violations against former Siad Barre Defense Minister living in Metro DC

The link is here. This is a case where we have both alleged victims (including a former Hargeisa businessman) and alleged perpetrator having been officially welcomed into US after the events in question–and one in which the US goverment, with probably quite little awareness by the American public, would have been allied with defendant in his ministerial capacity at the time. It seems to me that there would be a number of positive individual liberty/human rights implications to allowing this case to go forward–the Supreme Court should decide in the near future.

Somaliland/Somalia, Moi, Uganda, Corruption, Deep South

*”Somaliland: The Invisible Country” from Virginia Quarterly Review via The Somaliland Times.

*Nick Wadhams on “a really stupid idea” for Somalia.

*Interesting to see Moi in Uganda campaigning for Museveni’s re-election. What’s the message? “We shouldn’t have to bother with this voting stuff, but turn out for your President and The Party”? Things do seem to be gearing up among Kenyan politicos for Uganda’s election. See this Op/Ed: “Only Moi, Mugabe Could Have Come for ‘NRM Day’“.

*Negative report eariler this month disclosing unfavorable terms for previously secret Ugandan oil contracts with Tullow has helped keep the ball in the air perhaps.

*”US-Uganda Arms May Be Aiding Al-Shabaab says NGO“. From the Daily Monitor: “TFG lacks the capacity to prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets”. Full Amnesty International report.

*On the corruption front, the US is seeking extradition of a UK lawyer for allegedly trying to induce a colleague to give false evidence in the prosecution of the case that led to the $579M fine against Halliburton for bribes to Nigerian officials. In the meantime, the UK Serious Fraud Office seems to be moving forward in matters involving BAE which could include the alleged Tanzanian bribery.

*From the Deep South: The Los Angeles Times covers two interesting assistance/development efforts in the Mississippi Delta and Lower Alabama.

 

New Somaliland Report

The International Crisis Group has just released http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6420“>a new report on Somaliland. 

Somaliland’s general election was scheduled for spring 2008 during my tenure in East Africa.  Due to delays in the voter registration process all three political parties were able to agree on a postponement of the election date, but the matter of extending the president’s tenure in office after the expiration of his term was always a bit ambiguous.  A year-and-a-half later, this really needs to be brought to fruition.

I always greatly admired the ability of Somalilanders to pull and keep a meaningful form of governance together with so little to start with, and such little help.  Certainly the economy is hampered in many ways by the isolation resulting from the lack of formal diplomatic recognition.  While I was there it was extremely difficulty to get US permission for official US travelers (for instance, we were unsuccessful in getting US Gov’t permission for USAID consultants sent to Nairobi to evaluate democracy support programming to actually visit the country).  At the same time, the isolation has given them some space to work through their own challenges without some of the pitfalls often seen from international involvement, and a little breathing room in the lee of the winds of a globalized economy.

As a practical matter, it always seemed to me that Somaliland was a country of equal legitimacy and coherence with many others in the general area, whether the diplomatic community was ready to speak in that language or not.  The US always said it was waiting on the AU, and the AU was always going to act in accordance with the interests of its current players.  And of course the Bush Administration was heavily invested in that particular iteration of the TFG in Baidoa at that time.