HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — Earlier this week a local newspaper said the two former heads of state have cashed in a combine amount of US$3 million from the EU for their leadership.
Hargeisa Star newspaper in Somaliland’s capital, said former President Dahir Riyale Kahin and his Vice Ahmed Yusuf Yassin received $3m from the European Union for encouraging and establishing viable democratic institutions in the country and for their graceful acceptance of the election results after their party lost the June Presidential elections.
Abdi Jama, a local analyst, says if the claims are true it’s not a surprise giving the fact that stability and good leadership in Somaliland has unprecedented effect on the rest of the region. He cites that the EU understands the significance of having a democratic Islamic state in the Horn and across the red sea from the Middle East. “The region is also an important oil and gas route –and there are plans to construct oil pipelines from Ethiopia to Berbera in the next five years,” he said.
The source did not disclose how or when they were paid.
The claim comes week after a large delegation from ten EU countries arrived in Hargeisa to offer their congratulations and well wishes to the newly elected administration at first hand.
The delegation which was led by the EU representative to Somaliland and Somalia, Mr Marc-Andre Georges met with the former president, second opposition leader, Faisal Ali Warabe and the newly elected President Ahmed Mohamed Silaanyo.
During the meeting with President Silaanyo, the two sides discussed issues of common interest including piracy, terrorism, democracy and the overall security in the region.
The EU delegation promised to do more for Somaliland. They consisted of members from Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungry, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The delegation congratulated the people of Somaliland for the recent elections which were hailed as free and fair by locals, regional organizations and the international community led by British-based Progressio and Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI).
A day later, it was reported the former President Riyale left the country for France where his children reside. He told local reporters he plans to take time off from politics but will return as UDUB party leader. He urged his supporters to work with the new administration and remain united.
A month before the election, former Vice President Ahmed Yassin was in Paris where he underwent a medical procedure. It’s unclear exactly what he was treated for but he said he was feeling well again on his return.
Somaliland maintains close relations with France ever since Nicolas Sarkozy opened new venues of cooperation with African states, shifting its focus away from its traditional west-African allies and engaging with the whole continent.
In late July, days after the NEC announced the election results; the French Ambassador to Djibouti, Dominique Decherf spearheaded a delegation to Hargeisa to congratulate the new President, NEC and the people of Somaliland. He disclosed that France was ready to invest millions of dollars into Somaliland’s healthcare system and higher education infrastructure but urged leading institutions to include the French language into their curriculums.
Some of the institutions they plan to invest include University of Hargeisa, Amoud University and Al-Hayat Hospital in Borama. A number of French firms including Bollore Africa Logistics, Alcatel-Lucent, Sagemcom and the oil giant Total, which already operates in Berbera, expressed interest to develop the region.
In related development, the British embassy in Addis Ababa has pledged at least 14 pickup trucks to Somaliland’s coastguards in a move to help them combat piracy in the red sea. Mr Osman Hagar Jebril, commander of the coastguards, accepted 12 vehicles from British officials. He told reporters this was the first phase of number of military assistance promises by the UK government.
Two more vehicles are expected to arrive soon while other programmes including the training of coastguards by British naval officers is expected to begin soon. Mr Jebril thanked the British government and people for their generosity and support.
Somaliland’s presidential elections were held on June 26, on the day of the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain. President Silaanyo’s Kulmiye party won 49.6 per cent of the vote, beating the outgoing president Dahir Riyale Kahin in second position with 33.2 per cent, while second opposition UCID party finished third with 17.2 per cent of the vote.
Formerly known as British Somaliland, the country gained its independence in 1960 from UK and shortly unified with its southern neighbour to form what became known as the Somali Republic. However, after Somaliland’s democratic institutions were dismantled and its population marginalized by southern leaders, it took arms against the last Somali dictator, Mohamed Siad Bare.
In 1991 that totalitarian regime fell and Somaliland declared the restoration of its independence. It has not gained international recognition ever since but a growing number of Western and African states believe Somaliland deserves full recognition.
Like Kosovo, Somaliland is expected to questions as it bids to join the all exclusive club of statehood.
Somalilandpress | Saturday, 21 August 2010