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Cablegate: Somalia - Somaliland Parliament Disrupted Amid Increased

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INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001834

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SO ET UK
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Somaliland Parliament Disrupted Amid Increased
Tension

REF: A) Nairobi 1729 B) Addis Ababa 2092

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) On August 29, on orders from the Minister of Interior,
police took control of the parliament building in Hargeisa. The
police commander on the scene dismissed the usual security at the
parliament and the Speaker's bodyguards. The police then escorted
into parliament six MPs from the president's UDUB party who had been
suspended days before by parliament's disciplinary committee for
disrupting the August 24 session and destroying public property.
The Speaker publicly called the police presence an illegal
interference with the activities of the House of Representatives.
The Minister of Interior countered that the actions were in the name
of public safety. Again on August 30, police were dispatched into
key areas and fired into the air to disburse crowds in front of the
parliament building. There were no injuries, but police arrested
several persons. As the tension is mounting among key stakeholders,
the political impasse remains at a deadlock. International and
internal mediation efforts are ongoing, but are making little
headway. End Summary.

----------------------------------
Police Escort Renegade Legislators
Into Parliament
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) With the backdrop of Somaliland's ongoing political crisis
(ref A), tensions flared as lawmakers and police confronted each
other at the House of Representatives. On August 24, six MPs from
the ruling UDUB party disrupted parliamentary debate by breaking
chairs, disabling the amplification system, and instigating a
scuffle with the House leadership. In a September 1 conversation,
Speaker of Parliament Abdirahman Abdilahi "Irro" told us that he
suspected the MPs caused the disturbance to prevent the tabling of a
motion of impeachment against President Riyale. Parliament's
Standing and Discipline Committee placed the MPs under disciplinary
action and suspended them from attending three legislative sessions.
On August 28, the suspended MPs released public statements that
they would not accept any disciplinary action and that they would
continue to attend parliamentary sessions. They requested security
support from the police and government.

3. (SBU) On August 29, on orders from the Minister of Interior,
police units led by Police Commander Gen. Mohamed Saqadhi took
control of the Parliament building in Hargeisa. The Commander
dismissed the House's regular security, under the Speaker's control,
and replaced them with units under the command of the Minister of
Interior. Saqaghi also dismissed the Speaker's bodyguards. The
policemen escorted the six banned UDUB parliamentarians into the
legislative session.

4. (SBU) The Speaker adjourned the session and reportedly told the
police commander that his units' presence was an illegal
interference with the activities of the House of Representatives.
Commander Saqadhi replied that he was simply following orders from
the Minister of Interior to escort the six MPs into the meeting
hall, despite the disciplinary action against them.

--------------------------
Tensions Mount in Hargeisa
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Immediately following the August 29 police intervention,
the Speaker and his two deputies told the press that the elected
members of parliament cannot function properly due to "interferences
and harassment from the government." For his part, the Minister of
Interior explained that police were protecting the parliament and
preventing riots to take place. Opposition leaders publicly
accused the government of destroying the legal institutions of the
country and undermining national unity.

6. (SBU) On August 30, the government again deployed a large number
of police on Hargeisa's main roads, at the Parliament grounds, and
at presidential compound. They closed the parliament and prevented
MPs from bringing their vehicles on the premises. To disperse the
crowds, police fired into the air and arrested several people,
including the wife of the second deputy speaker who was released
after being detained for several hours. Large crowds near the

NAIROBI 00001834 002 OF 003


Parliament were reported to have chanted "Down with Riyale". The
disturbances cause the Guurti, or upper house, to cancel its August
30 mediation session on the political standoff.

---------------------------------------
International Mediation Efforts Ongoing
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) While the political impasse deepens and tensions mount,
mediation efforts continue. The August 19-24 Ethiopian delegation
reportedly made some progress, most notably encouraging dialogue and
discussions with all stakeholders on the points of the non-paper it
developed. Though all sides expressed to us their hope that the
mediation efforts would break the impasse, Minister of State Takeda
Alemu apparently failed to negotiate a breakthrough during his
initial visit. Ethiopian efforts provided a point of departure (ref
B), but now appear to be on hold in favor of UK leadership of
international mediation, our contacts tell us. At present, both
opposition parties remain firm in their opposition to the Ethiopian
proposal that would allow President Riyale to remain in office in
case the elections are once more postponed.

8. (SBU) While the Ethiopian mission was in Somaliland, the African
Union also sent a delegation, led by Special Envoy for Somalia
Nicolas Bwakira. Ambassador Bwakira met with all the key
stakeholders and the Ethiopian delegation. In a statement to the
press, the AU Special Envoy endorsed the Ethiopian efforts.

9. (SBU) The UK delegation, led by John Marshall, Deputy Ambassador
of the UK Embassy in Addis, visited Hargeisa August 29-30. The
delegation reportedly met with President Riyale, members of the
National Electoral Commission (NEC), and opposition party leaders.
A UK representative who accompanied Marshall told us the August 29
Riyale meeting was disappointing because he remained steadfast that
the NEC could not be reconstituted. The delegation was to have a
follow-up meeting the morning of August 30, but it was cancelled
because Riyale was reportedly ill. Kulmiye leader Silanyo remained
firm in his position that there cannot be any more extensions for
Riyale. UCID leader Faisal was more flexible, suggesting that
accommodation could be made for another extension provided that the
four controversial NEC commissioners were removed and a date for the
elections set by outside experts.

10. (SBU) The UK delegation also met with the NEC. The election
commissioners indicated that there was a budget, but at the moment
no money to move forward with elections without the voter
registration. The UK planned to release a public statement and
indicated that next steps will include working with the Ethiopians
to suggest alternative language in a revised MOU for the
stakeholders. The UK representative also indicated the importance
of keeping up pressure to re-constitute the NEC.

-----------------------------
Concurrent Internal Mediation
-----------------------------

11. (SBU) In addition to the international efforts, there are also
several Somaliland-based mediation initiatives. The Union for
Somaliland Journalists has organized a team of 25 persons including
merchants, religious leaders, traditional elders, scholars, and
others. This team nominated a smaller working group which met with
the chairmen of the opposition parties. The committee requested a
meeting with President Riyale, but he declined, citing the Ethiopian
delegation's efforts.

12. (SBU) More successful by operating behind the scenes is a
concurrent mediation effort driven by the sultans of Somaliland's
major clans, who are meeting widely to solve the crisis. The Guurti
also appointed an internal mediating committee consisting of 22
members to solve the crisis. The Guurti claimed that they are the
only institution which has the mandate to solve problems of this
magnitude and discouraged sultans or others from interfering in the
country's political disputes. Thus far, the committee has not
agreed on an approach and as a result of the August 30 disturbances,
they have not met.

-------
Comment
-------

13. (SBU) Despite multiple mediation efforts, there has been no

NAIROBI 00001834 003 OF 003


real break in the political stalemate. Riyale and the UDUB party
insist on yet another extension and refuse to reconstitute the NEC.
Even though parliament has long demanded the NEC and the government
to use the voter registration list for the presidential elections,
both have refused to commit to this. We remain in touch with our
international partners and with key stakeholders from all sides,
including some working level Somaliland officials, though some
government representatives remain reluctant to engage with us
directly. Nevertheless, as the UK assumes a more prominent role in
the mediation efforts, we are hopeful the President will engage with
us, too.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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