The Somaliland voters will go to the polls to elect a new leader in March 2017. That leader must have experience to protect our nation, with a bold agenda to build Somaliland’s economy, and a vision to move Somaliland forward. With economic growth we are able to tackle many challenges our country is facing such as lack of basic services of water and electricity, ill-equipped health care system and poor infrastructure.
Last Week, The National (‘Waddani”) party convention nominated for the presidency the Speaker of Somaliland’s parliament, Abdurahmam Erro.
Speaker Erro, a former civil servant, who in 1981 joined the Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then he became the first secretary of the Somali Embassy in Moscow. He was even claiming to be the Somali Ambassador when the Somali dictator was overthrown in 1991. While using the Somali Embassy as his base, in the early 90’s, he was allegedly part of a Russian mafia human trafficking network, smuggling Somali immigrants and others to Scandinavian countries.
When multi-party democratic system was introduced to Somaliland, in 2005, he was elected to the parliament as a member of the Justice and Welfare party, from the coastal Sahel region with a total vote of less than 1,800. He was elected the speaker of the Parliament not on the merit of his political skills or policy expertise but because he was willing to advance the political agenda of then candidate Silanyo.
Erro should have been the most qualified candidate for the presidency because of his title as speaker.
But in reality, the 2017 Waddani presidential candidate Erro is not that person. Erro is a decent man, who deeply cares about our country; however, because of his inept and failed leadership to run the parliament and the lack of legislative accomplishment, makes him unqualified to lead our nation.
Erro’s first term as speaker expired in 2010, but was extended twice. His legislative record is truly dismal. Erro’s parliament never passed any major piece of legislation that benefited the struggling Somalilanders, dealing with such important issues: land reform, water, security, public health and foreign policy.
For instance, Erro gave Silanyo administration a blank check to open a dialogue with the fictional Somali government in Mogadishu when the pillar of its provisional constitution states that “Somaliland is a region of its territory,” or engaging the United Nations, which drafted and funded its constitution.
On domestic matters, such as elections, Erro’s Parliament had failed repeatedly to do its jobs on deciding the time and the manner of Somaliland elections.
I would like to challenge Erro supporters, if they could name any major piece of legislation that Erro passed for the last decade that made a difference for the lives of ordinary Somalilanders.
In fact, the greatest failure of Erro’s leadership was making the Parliament of Somaliland an irrelevant institution. Whatever legislative agenda, the special interest groups both domestic and foreign demanded such as communications, banking, and piracy, were passed in a backroom deals and without any hearings or debates.
Erro not only made the legislative body insignificant, but he also abandoned his full time job—managing effectively the legislature. Instead, he was very busy organizing his own political party “Waddani” and spent most of the time travelling overseas for fundraising.
Erro also shut down the Parliament twice because he failed to get the support of the majority of the legislators. On one occasion he used violence to keep the speakership position.
Because he has no record to run with, Erro turned to the most despicable political panhandlers in Somaliland for help to salvage his campaign.
One of those individuals leading Erro’s battle to win the presidency is Hersi Ali, former aide to President Silanyo, who is now acting as his attack dog. But Somalilanders are sick and tired of smear campaigns, and Erro’s weaknesses and lies.
Hersi during his tenure to Silanyo administration blatantly abused his power: He repeatedly deployed RRU, an anti terrorist force, to harass and intimidate journalist and his political opponents. He even sent a young girl to jail for sending him a text message protesting the government’s mishandling of the demonstrations against election result in 2012. Hersi also misused public funds.
But Erro believes that Hersi would deliver him the votes of east Burao constituents as though they are a herd of cows that belong to Hersi.
Erro, and his colleagues Jirdeh and Rayte, who have been in the Parliament for combined 42 years, are partly to blame as to why the current Somaliland legislature is corrupt and dysfunctional, and they cannot be an agent for change because of their direct involvement.
The 2017 presidential election, many voters have serious reservation, Erro and the people who he surrounded himself, have what it takes to move Somaliland forward. Erro and the special interest that are backing him have been wrong for Somaliland
Somaliland’s challenges are enormous and it would take generations to transform it. But this young nation is in a volatile region and needs a strong candidate who has the experience to protect it. Taking a chance with a weak candidate like Erro is beyond reckless.
Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation, Lewis Center, Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Follow him on Twitter: @Gobanimo2