Cablegate: Somalia - Somaliland Stalemate Continues As Riyale Shuffles

DE RUEHNR #1729/01 2291537
O 171537Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Somaliland Stalemate Continues as Riyale Shuffles

REF: Nairobi 1709


1. (SBU) On August 15, Somaliland President Riyale reshuffled his
Cabinet to remove two outspoken opposition ministers and attempt to
gain favor with the clan of leading opposition candidate Silanyo.
The National Electoral Commission and President Riyale continue to
ignore parliamentary, opposition party, and civil society demands
that presidential elections must only be held with a voter
registration list. The two opposition parties have called for
demonstrations on August 20 as the political stalemate continues.
Stakeholders are digging in as pressure mounts from inside and
outside Somaliland to address a way forward. International
community representatives in Nairobi will release a joint donor
statement on August 18. End Summary.

Riyale Changes Cabinet to Gain Support:
Calculation May Misfire

2. (SBU) On August 15, Somaliland President Riyale reshuffled his
Cabinet, replacing the ministers of Defense and Industry who were
both outspoken critics of the Somaliland President and appointing a
Minister of the Presidency. Saleban Warsame Guled replaced
Abdullahi Ali Ibrahim as Somaliland's Minister of Defense and the
new Minister of Industry is Ahmed Ali "Ubahle", having replaced
Mohamed Suleiman Mohamed. Riyale appointed Hassan Ahmed "Ma'alin,"
reportedly as a reward for his public support for Riyale's decision
to proceed with the presidential election without the voter list.
(Note: Ahmed was serving as acting Minister of the Presidency after
the death of the former minister in July 2009).

3. (SBU) All of the incoming and outgoing ministers were from the
same Isaak/Haber Jeclo subclan as Kulmiye opposition leader Mohamed
Silanyo, but the newly appointed ministers are expected to take a
softer line towards President Riyale. Other changes include the
dismissal of former State Minister of Water and Minerals Jama
Abdilahi "Haibe" who was replaced by Muse Abdi and Farhan Jama who
was appointed as State Minister of Interior. All of our contacts
told us these changes have added fuel to the fire of a potentially
explosive situation. Though the changes are designed to strengthen
Riyale's standing and draw support away from Silanyo's Kulmiye
party, Somaliland experts told us the President's politicization of
his cabinet is having the opposite effect. We have learned that in
recent weeks, many influential supporters of Riyale's UDUB party
have migrated to the opposition parties.

4. (SBU) The cabinet reshuffle comes less than six weeks before the
scheduled presidential election on September 27, which President
Riyale insists will happen on time. The two opposition parties
reportedly formalized an agreement to boycott elections without the
voter registration list. President Riyale and Somaliland Minister
of Foreign Affairs Abdilahi Mohamed Duale have publicly defended the
decision to proceed with elections using the "traditional" method
and criticized the international community's pressure on Somaliland.
National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman Jama Mohamoud Omar
told us that the NEC is in the process of preparing for elections on
September 27, though it remains open to dialogue with all political

Internal Pressure Mounting

5. (SBU) After the August 11 parliamentary decision that declared
the NEC's decision illegal, the Parliament intended to convene on
August 15 to discuss next steps. In response, President Riyale
placed police officers in and around the Parliament building in a
clear attempt at intimidation. This action and the administration's
insistence on moving forward despite Parliament's ruling has
reportedly turned the loyalist Guurti (Parliament's upper house of
elders) against Riyale. Somaliland experts told us emissaries for
Riyale have already started floating another extension of his term
in office as a "necessity" if elections cannot take place on
September 27. We were told these emissaries were rejected by all
stakeholders they approached. Our interlocutors told us the Guurti
would likely vote against any bid to extend Riyale's term, and many

NAIROBI 00001729 002 OF 002

are already talking about what shape a caretaker government could

6. (SBU) The two opposition parties have publicly announced a mass
protest to take place on August 18. The protest has since slipped
to August 20 in order to allow the organizers additional time to
coordinate efforts. In response to the opposition party
announcement, the Minister of Interior announced in a radio
interview on August 16 that all public demonstrations are outlawed,
and any protest would be a threat to security.

7. (SBU) We have continued our outreach to Somaliland diaspora
communities, particularly to businessmen with significant
investments in the region. There will be a meeting of all
Dubai-based Somalilanders on August 17 to address the crisis. One
businessman, a close associate of Riyale and member of his Gadabursi
clan, has been particularly active in his messages to fellow clan
leaders. He told us that he underscored to Riyale and the
presidency, as well as to Minister of Finance Duale (one of Riyale's
closest advisors), the immediate need for Riyale to back down from
his position, seek compromise with the other parties, and engage
with the international community (especially the U.S. The
businessman told us he had spoken with all of the clan emirs who
have reportedly insisted that Riyale immediately change his behavior
or risk losing clan support. Our contact further told us that we
should expect to see a clear shift in Riyale's position over the
next two to three days, as pressure from all sides will give him no
other choice.

International Community Remains
In Lockstep on Political Crisis

8. (SBU) On August 17, the Nairobi-based Somaliland Democratization
Group met to exchange information and develop a common way forward
on the political crisis. We agreed that the cancellation of the EU
mission scheduled for August 12-13 prevented President Riyale from
using its presence for his own ends. On August 16, UK Secretary of
State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband sent a
letter to President Riyale expressing disappointment with his
disregard for the voter registration list and terming subsequent
developments a threat to Somaliland's peace and stability. On
August 18, a high-level Ethiopian delegation, to be led by Minister
of State for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu, is planning to visit
Hargeisa to discuss the ongoing electoral problems. At the August
17 meeting, we confirmed that our contacts in Addis told us the
Ethiopian administration shared the same position as the donor

9. (SBU) The joint donor committee agreed on language for a joint
public statement that will be released on August 18. The uncleared,
draft statement reads:

The Democratization Steering Committee notes with profound concern
the deterioration of the political debate and an increasing
dangerous polarization amongst all stakeholders in the Somaliland
democratization process.

Somaliland's strength has been in its ability to resolve disputes
through consensus and dialogue. The current climate is a departure
from this tradition which could undermine peace and stability. We
encourage all Somalilanders to come together to find a common way
forward to hold free and fair elections.

With a mutually acceptable solution reached by the stakeholders, the
donors look forward to continuing their support of Somaliland's
democratization process.


© Scoop Media

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