Is Kulmiye party a credible alternative in Somaliland?

By Ahmed Keyse (

The main opposition party in Somaliland, Kulmiye, has long been blamed for failing to capitalise on the democratic and 'leadership' deficit of the ruling UDUB party.
This is a fact that has not been taken into account by Kulmiye bloggers who have launched a campaign to discredit the ruling party and president Dahir Riyale Kahin who is believed to have injected an element of pragmatism into the Somaliland politics.

As Somaliland is at cross roads, it quite important to pose the pressing question: Can Kulmye party take the country out of the doldrums? Unlike UDUB which is made up of politics hardened opportunists, Kulmiye party is dominated by SNM veterans who deride Egal's ( the late Somali president ) demobilisation initiatives that made impossible for SNM veterans to bask in the afterglow of post-liberation euphoria that entitled them to become rulers, and the people unquestioning servants.

"Kulmiye has the history on its side," wrote one commentator who suggested that Kulmiye form a government of national unity with the ruling party it has failed to rein in should elections fail to take place on the 29th of March 2005. Other than glorification of the party leader's past role in forming and leading the now defunct Somali National Movement, Kulmiye seems to be bereft of political ideas that can inspire people trust.

The history that is on the side of the party is, I presume, a history of repeating Mujihadist mistakes that undone the legacy of Abdirahmaan Tuur, the late first president of Somaliland who was the first luminary to advocate the need for a reunion with Somalia when he was voted out of office!. By this I don't mean Kulmiye will make a similar mistake but the same I-am-entitled-to- rule syndrome that provided the basis for making political misjudgement on the part of late president and his acolytes may steer Kulmiye towards such an option.

There is a mysterious role-reversal at play in Somaliland. Abdirahman Tuur loyalists have become bold and imaginative by throwing their weight behind the ruling UDUB in addition to making UCID into a shamelessly vassal party led by an experienced, gaffe-prone politician. How the vanquished changed their fortunes in the space of a few years to become policy makes in the very administration they had sought to destroy might be a subject of inquiry for the present or future Somalists.

Unlike the ruthlessly opportunist UDUB leaders Kulmiye's leadership seeks to elicit the support of the party leader's clan only. This strategy has played into the hands of the UDUB policy makers. The Somaliland finance minister, Mr Awil, is on the record for saying that his clan "would not vote for the leaders who had a role in the war that was waged against (sic) my people." Apart from Kulmiye there is another opposition party, UCID. The leader of UCID, Feysal Ali Waraabe, was in Finland when the civil war was raging in Somaliland. He is from the same clan as the finance minister's. The leader minister Awil is referring to is none other than Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo, the leader of Kulmiye party. So far Siilaanyo has not come out clean about his role in the intra-clan fighting that broke out in Somaliland in 1990s. Forgiving politicians is good but people find it hard to trust a leader who instigated clan war fare or who had not made his stance clear when clans had been embroiled in war of kith and kin.

There is a streak of clannish pussyfooting in the way Kulmiye conducts politics. When it comes to the task of striving to make Somaliland an "inclusive polity", UDUB some marks. Why? Because it has got the highest ratio of experienced politicians and diplomats compared to Kulmiye.

Kulmiye had better take the advice of its seasoned supporters, and review its domestic and foreign policies. Rather than relying on populist policies, it should, like UDUB, show a spine and imagination to deliver itself from the state of being beholden to segmentary politics.
It has never been vocal critic of the government's decision to outlaw forums such as Caawa Caqli Keen. Such silence about the government's policies makes Kulmiye a partner in misrule. People of Somaliland deserve wise, honest and accountable leaders.

Ahmed Keyse Ali,