LIGHT MINDEDNESS IS ERODING TRADITIONAL LEADERSHIP IN SOMALILAND AND PUNTLAND

By Ahmed Keyse (ahmedkeyse98@hotmail.com)

The recent BBC Somali Service interview with Garad Saleebaan of Sool region has exposed what many people thought of the Garad: that his role has changed from traditional, wisdom based leadership to that of a clannish reactionary. Garad Saleebaan used the tone of warlord when he expressed his objection to Yagoori peace conference.

Unlike the seasoned Garad Abdiqani Garad Jama, Garad Saleebaan has empowered the Puntland leadership to weaken any other Garaad whom Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf regarded as independent minded. Garad Saleebaan has not broken his silence over the Puntland forces decision to deny Garad Abdiqani the right to leave Las Caanood for Kenya when the Embagathi reconciliation Conference for war lords was in the last stage.

Garad Saleebaans influence grew as Puntland became more influential in Sool region. He unwittingly promoted policies that made the Dolbahante pawns of Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf . While Puntland continued to benefit such towns a Garowe, Qardho, Ayl and Boosaaso, Laas Caanood relied on the contributions from its Diaspora rather than hand-outs from the administration behind which many Sool people threw their weight!

The defeat of Mohamed Abdi Hashi, former acting president of Puntland afforded Garad Abdiqani an opportunity to revive the non-political role of Sool traditional leaders. In a BBC Somali section interview several months ago, Garad Abdiqani made the unforgettable point that it is Sool traditional leaders who will meet the Somaliland traditional leaders to solve the problem amicably

People who are familiar with the intricacy of Sool politics will find the clue as to why Garad Saleebaan threw spanner in the works: Garad Ismail Dualeh whose constituency is Yagoori is critically ill in Nairobi. It is safe to say that Garad Saleebaans outpourings on BBC Somali section drew the anger of Garaad Ismails supporters who are credited with strengthening the neighbourly relations between the people of Sool and Togdheer.

Enter Suldaan Maxamed Suldaan Cabdulqaadir of Hargeisa who, in an interview with Jamhuriya newspaper suggested that a war between Somaliland and Puntland can solve the Sool issue. The Sultan is known to admire being called a hawk. It is not surprising to hear such remarks from a Suldaan who is speaking from the comfort of Hargeisa. His knowledge of Somaliland is not beyond Hargiesa and he, like Garad Saleeban, is only a traditional leader only in name. Few months ago he called for a pan-Isaq conference. Kulmiye leader, Silanyo, told the Suldaan that it was a matter for traditional leaders to meet tribally, not for a party. In the second part of the interview published on Jamhuriya website, the Suldaan funnily asked for the Somaliland government to give him the mission to dislodge Sool region from Puntland. No Somaliland soldier will die as a result of my mission, the Suldaan said.

It is said people get the leaders they deserve. Garad Saleebaan and Suldaan Maxamed Abdulakadir have wreaked havoc on the role of traditional leaders in Somaliland and Puntland. It is time to rein them in.

Ahmed Keyse Ali,

London