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22, Oct. 2004
M. M. Afrah

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER: Online letters will be edited for purposes of spell check, grammar and space. Full names and email addresses withheld on request.

Last week we received a flurry of online opinions from Somalis as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Europe and North America regarding the election of Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as President of a "New" Somalia.

When Abdiqassim was elected at Arte in Djibouti we also received emails from our visitors. In comparison last week's figure is staggering indeed, and we decided to summarize selected ones, filing away the profanities.

Let's get on with it. Here we go:

"Dear MM Afrah,

Under normal circumstances, I might not feel to support a military man as head of state, but this is not normal circumstances. As you yourself said in your last Talking Point, I too believe that the Colonel should be given the chance to prove himself. We must welcome him with reservations. After all five years is not a big deal.

Memphis, Tennessee (USA)

I do not expect him to sit behind a huge desk in Mogadishu, shuffling papers and watching his clan elders grinning after they flood the country with truckloads of counterfeit currencies. By the way, the Presidential palace and other state buildings, including the parliament, is in ruins, and there's no desk left intact. Even windows have gone. The starving inhabitants of Mogadishu used them as firewood more than a decade ago. Hey, why not try Baidoa where his friend Hussein Aideed used to hole up whenever things get tough for him in Mogadishu?
Dayton, Ohio (USA)

Military rule and misery has been nothing new to the Somali people. But it is common knowledge that this guy has short fuse. Anyway, there's nothing new. It's just from Afweyneh to Afgaduud. It's as simple as that.

Melbourne (Australia)

The man has a real chip on his shoulder, but his election as a President is not a surprise. For one thing the Hawiye could not settle their hostilities long after their guerrilla movement, the United Somali Congress (USC) toppled Siyad Barre and form a united front with Ali Mahdi at the helm. Instead, they decided to do something to cast mud on Abdiqassim and Addow and gave their vote to Majerteen military man from Puntland, where his one-man rule faced numerous obstacles from his own clansmen. It was a wise decision for the Hawiye, notably, the Abgal to distance themselves from Abdiqassim and Abdullahi Addow and their greedy Habar-gedir clan. How about offering them the Premiership?

As for Ali Mahdi, he was smart enough to get the hell out of the torturous clan politics long before the spin-off began.

Prof. Abtidon,
Cairo (Egypt)

MM. Afrah Thanks for your assessment of the Colonel, but I have other things to worry about right now. Today, October 15th an immigration judge has turned down my application for convention refugee on the ground that Somalia has now a government of its own and that I would be deported very soon. I belong to the Tunni clan in Brava District who are frequently harassed and killed by gunmen from the Central Province. I lost everything and I vowed never to return to Somalia. My lawyer has filed an appeal, but the chance to succeed is very slim.
It is time that writers like you to talk about people like me who do not wish to be deported as long as insecurity prevails in Somalia in general and Brava in particular (Roughly translated from Somali)

Dear Khalif, your lawyer should remind in clear terms to the immigration judge that Somalia is still one of the most dangerous places on Earth, after Iraq and Afghanistan. It so dangerous that even the new President and members of parliament will not be able to set foot in the country, at least for the moment, because for one thing the hard nuts are still there with guns blazing. Good luck!

Mr. Afrah, I carry a bitter poison for those warlords and their Mooryaans, the people who set in motion a chain of reactions which maimed innocent victims, including members of my own family. I only hope the Colonel will get rid of these warlords and their gunmen once and for all. Only then there will certainly be a sigh of relief in the Diaspora. Only then many of us would return to the land of our forebears in order to play an important a role in reconstruction from Ground Zero.

Sheikh Abdi
New Zealand.

He has hundreds of things to do in order to try to resuscitate the country. However, one place he should avoid is Mogadishu where the warlords are entrenched, waiting in the wings to destabilize his new government as they did to Ali Mahdi and Abdiqassim before him. Perhaps he should make Baidoa the seat of his government and isolate the gangs in Mogadishu. I think an African army will not be of any help in Somalia. They may even worsen the situation. Ask the Americans and the United Nations.


The bitter truth is that no one on earth can save Somalia from itself. Everything is waste of time money and energy. Clearly the stumbling blocks are the warlords and their minions.

Toronto (Canada)

You'd get what you see, and that's a soldier/politician in a three-piece suit and colourful tie. But he could be as dangerous as Siyad Barre and the warlords. Since we have no choice, let's give him a chance and monitor him carefully.

London (UK)

His expensive suits and yellow ties make him look like a statesman who can stand among other world leaders, but I very much doubt if he can handle the chronic problems in the South. I would advice my Southern brothers to curb their expectations. Electing a military man is like a car with flat tires. It will run like a racing car during the first ten minutes, then poof, the tires go flat suddenly, and you end up with a stranded military dictator. Remember Siyaad Barre?
(No location given)

Tribalism and factional interests must be divorced from supporting the new president and his government, because the people are tired of the faction leaders whose sole interests is to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. Given their past record, they are clearly not interested in a stable government in Somalia.
To me, Abdullahi has leadership quality and we must give him the chance to prove himself.
Virginia (USA)

Mr. Afrah, electing another military man is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire (roughly: the Somali equivalent of KUT KA GUUR EE GANJO U GUUR). Apparently money changed hands just hours before the election and the greedy members of the parliament have been easily bought to cast their votes for Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf.
Let's wait and see what happens next.
Minnesota (USA)



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By Amiin Amir By Amiin Amir

The Centre for Research & Dialogue (CRD)
The Somali-Canadian Working Group for New Generation
Midaynta Association of Somali Service Agencies - Toronto

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