30 years ago in English spring, SNM (Somali National Movement), a liberation front against dictatorial regime of Somalia, was officially launched in London, as there was no possibility to hold free assembly or conference neither in Somalia nor in the whole Middle East. Representativeswere constituency based and not clan based as practiced latter on. They came from Somali communities abroad mostly from Europe and Middle East with representation and approval by grass-root and leadership units inside the country. Immediately SNM ignited the first spark of continuous armed struggle for a decade, during which the tyrant bombed civilians, shelled its cities and sent the entire residents of major towns of Somaliland like Hargeysa, Buroa, Berbera and Erigabo and many more to refugee camps in Ethiopia and in exile far away.
SNM leadership brought in a new style of governance to armed movements. It established a system of democratic government, with independent executive and legislative branches. Occupants were democratically elected through a process of constituency selections. The executive were led by a Chairman elected for one year. The armed wing of SNM was operationally independent but at the policy level was directed by the executive. Democratization of an armed movement to that extend was unprecedented. During 10 years of armed struggle, SNM changed leadership democratically, so often. It had five Chairmen in the process. The Chairman with the longest tenure was Ahmed Silanyo, current President of Somaliland.
It is that background which helped Somaliland to adopt democracy practically, effectively and peacefully in a short period.
Let me leave with you this interview with President Ahmed Silanyo, then Chairman of SNM. It is an illustrative lesson that portrays the raison d’être and motives of SNM. This interview was translated by BBC Monitoring Unit.
He Has Done to the People Things Which the Colonialists Never Did.
(Clandestine)Radio Halgan Interviews SNM’s Silanyo
in Somali 1700 GMT 3 Aug 87
[Excerpts] [HALGAN] Radio Halgan, the united voice of the Somali opposition forces to interview fighter Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo, the Somali National Movement chairman. We asked him about the general situation in Somalia.
[Silanyo] The general situation in Somalia is, as all Somali people know, [words indistinct]. He has been dictator for a long time. During his rule the economy, the political situation and other factors affecting the lives of the people have deteriorated. There is less freedom. He has done to the people things which the colonialists never did, things which they have never experienced before. The horrors the system has imposed on them are well known. Today there is internal strife. There is a struggle going on between a group who belong to Siyaad Barr’s clan or household and another group who see themselves as the rightful successors according to the so-called law of the land.
He has appointed his son, Masleh, to the new post of army commander in and around Mogadishu. Masleh has also been made the commander-in-chief. This means that prepara¬tions are underway to put him in charge of the army, security and everything else i.e. minister of defense, now that Mohamed Ali Samantar has lost that post. The latter has been made prime minister.
As we have said many times before, all this is leading to a monarchical system of rule based on hereditary succession. The preparations for this have been observed for a long time. From the beginning the people have been fighting not only against the dictatorship destroying the land and the people but also moves towards creating a monarchy in the country. Those who oppose it are pushed about when they express disagreement. The Somali people must study this situation carefully. The people of the world should do [word indistinct]. The fighting Somali opposition forces, who have seen everything that has happened and can even see what is to come, have always been against such things. I believe that the Somali people will not let this continue.
[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, once the situation reaches that level, it is certain that the Somali people will rise up and struggle against any colonizer. It is also certain that the level of struggle against Siyaad Barre has increased in the country, as you have said here tonight. We would like you to tell the Somali people about the extent of the liberation struggle spearheaded by the armed Somali opposition forces.
[Silanyo] As you said, it is quite clear that the present system in the country is not in the interests of the people. It suppresses the people, kills them, herds them into prisons, destroys the economy, and makes living conditions worse.
When this became clear, all the people began to oppose it. We know and strongly believe that 99 percent of the Somali people, wherever they may be, whether inside the country or abroad, can now be described as open rebels with no confidence in the system. However, there are many different kinds of people. There are some who stay in the country to protect their interests.Some face circumstances in which they cannot rise up or do anything about the system which they are witness¬ing. There are some who get their way.
There are others who hate the system in their hearts. Many of them remain outside and inform the world of the suppression and oppression to which people are subjected. But they are not organized. The two organizations which are armed and organized in every sense and who lead the opposition are the SNM and the DFSS. The level of this struggle is satisfactory in every way. It inspires a lot of confidence that the system will be toppled, overthrown and brought to its knees. There is no doubt that the struggle is gaining ground daily. It has inflicted heavy losses on the fascist system’s army in arms, equipment and other ways. Politically the people have been alienated from him.
The people are working for the struggle because of his oppression. The struggle is at a good level and it has a lot of confidence. On the battlefields we have the upper hand. His radio stations do not report this fact. The surprising thing is that when their letters are intercepted, like that of Morgan, which has received a lot pub¬licity and comment in the international press they tell lies about winning a victory and inflicting certain losses in such and such a place, when actually they did nothing of the sort and the truth is to the contrary.
The children of many people have been shaved and taken away to fight in other regions. Their parents and relatives do not know where they are. The system does not disclose their whereabouts. It hides the truth but it knows the extent of its casualties.
In short we say that, whether inside or outside, the just struggle against Said Barre has the upper hand and is full of confidence.
Final victory is certain, however long it may take. The last battle to be reported by Radio Halgan was 2 or 3 days ago, when they were badly beaten. So, the struggle is continuing. It will continue and go on to victory, God grant.
[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, after the struggling Somali peo¬ple began to win the political and armed struggle, the unreason¬able regime resorted to cowardly acts inspired by fear, that is, the assassination at SNM bases of personalities who spearheaded the struggle in the SNM wing of the Somali opposition forces, for example Col Adan Shaykh Mahmud Ali Shine and Col Abd al-Qadir Kosar. What light can you throw on this matter for the Somali people?
[Silanyo] First, as you said, they were killed at SNM combat bases, while discharging their duties. We ask God to rest their souls in peace. They were martyred and died for a just cause, the cause of the Somali people. We say their death was a just one. May God console their bereaved relatives? We see that they did their duty. They died for a just cause that is being continued by the Somali people.
Their death will not be in vain. We inform the Somali people that the struggle for which these men died and suffered martyrdom will encourage the people. The struggle will never be crippled by such acts. Their martyrdom will fuel the struggle be redoubled instead.
[HALGAN Fighter chairman, it is true that the worlds’ mass media have been commenting on Somalia. They show a correct picture of the true situation in Somalia. But sometimes, for whatever reason, they distort the objectives of the armed Somali opposition forces. It is our duty to clarify this for the Somali people.
[Silanyo] The world’s mass media comment widely on the sit¬uation in Somalia, mostly giving the true situation, exposing the violation of human rights, the injustices, the clan-based rule, the weak economy, and hard living conditions. When reporting the struggle, they tell the truth most of the time. However, because of different interests and levels of information some radio stations and papers employing various journalists wrongly report. Some of them say, as the BBC did in its commentary on my speech of 26 June, that the SNM is clan-orientated.
All the people are suffering and are oppressed. They all suffer from bad government. Misuses of public funds, destruction of life, insecurity, suppression, lack of freedom and lack of democracy have affected everyone.
The fact that special pressure is applied to the northern regions where the struggle is more intense needs no explanation. The armed struggle is more intensified there. My point is that in whatever region and place, the struggle that is taking place is a Somali struggle whose objectives and aspirations are based on the removal of that cruel system which is characterized by inhumanity, greed, bad politics, ignorance, and problems.
When it is said that a clan or a family is singled out, it is true because when the clan or the family uses public funds that are common to all Somali people, is dictatorial, ignores the face of freedom, and wants to establish an outdated feudal monarchy, which has never existed in Somalia, it cannot be accepted. I hereby clarify that we are not against a clan or an innocent group, as Siyaad Barre is wronging, killing and spying. We want to remove all injustices and associated problems in the country.
If the economy has collapsed, if there is no security, if women and children are being massacred and subjected to indecencies, if the pastoralists are being obliterated, if neither a shaykh nor an intellectual nor youth is safe, if the people have been reduced to exile within and without, if the learned have been finished all these call for the fight of a nation. It is not right to interpret that liberation struggle as a fight against a particular group. We do not want to harm anybody. We just want our rights.
[HALGAN] Fighter chairman, now you have spoken on the general situation of the country and the level of the struggle, and you have thrown some light on the issues we discussed, Radio Halgan finally asks you to say what you call on Somali people to do.
[Silanyo] It is clear what the Somali people are being called upon to do, and it is what we are discussing. They have been called upon many times before. Most of the people are not without information. Therefore, we call on Somali people not to accept and not to endure. Join us, give full support to the struggle, and perform your role. Lives are sacrificed for liberation and free¬dom. They are sacrificed for, fought for, moved for, cried for, and demonstrated for. So we say rise up. You must not sit if your house, camels, wife, and children are not safe. You know this very well. There is nothing to wait for. Rise up and join the struggle and move forward with the fight. Thank you. THE END.
With that in mind, Ahmed Silaanyo continued his devotion to politics in order to bring to fruition his vision and aspiration. The winning manifesto presented to the public by Kulmiye party, the party of the President was directly translated from the aims and the objectives of SNM. It’s ultimate aim being to build a nation where rule of the law is the custom.
To change our people for better quality of life, calls for economic development and enhancement of education, health and social justice. In their turn these dignified objectives can be achieved by eradicating corruption and implementing righteous principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.
Today the President Silanyo is at the helm. He has all intentions and commitment, as well as power albeit limited by circumstances, to leave a legacy of accomplishing the ultimate goal of SNM. (Somaliland, where rule of the law is the norm). The expectation of the public is very high, for they value this leadership dear. It is a huge responsibility and it’s realization demands teamwork and can do attitude from all levels and sectors of government, as well as understanding and cooperation from the public.
Stand for the aspiration of our people, those who struggled so long and hard to have basic human rights: rights for employment, shelter, education, better heath, justice, security, equal right to national resource and wealth, and many more.
United we succeed, divided we fail.
Mr. Ahmed H Arwo
Somaliland Presidential Advisor on
Economy, commerce and Investments