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Authorities in Somaliland today arrested ten opposition leaders from some of the newly formed political organizations. The leaders were spearheading demonstration and rallies to protest the disqualification of their organizations by the Registration & Verification Committee in towns within Somaliland.
At around 11:00am local time a contingent of police from the Rapid Response Unit armed with guns and teargas canisters stormed a rally at Khairiyadha, a public square in Hargeisa, to disperse the opposition supporters and arrest close to a dozen opposition leaders from some of the political parties that were recently refused registration. They included the NDB (Peace, Democracy and Plenty) leader Fowzia Haji Aden, Jamhuriya (Republican Party) leader Mohamed Odawa, Ahmed Sandoon of Damal, and UDHIS (Democratic Party of Somaliland) Deputy Leader Ali Borsed.
According to Somaliland Police Commissioner Abdillahi Fadal, the demonstrations and rallies taking place across Somaliland are illegal as they were not sanctioned by the authorities. His sentiment was previously echoed by Somaliland Interior Minister Nur Araale who said the events will likely cause unrest and as such the government will not allow them to take place.
Speaking to Somalia Report at Hargeisa Central Police Station where most of the leaders are being held, Borsed from UDHIS indicated they twice notified the authorities and sought their approval to hold the rallies, which they saw as their basic right.
“We wrote to the interior ministry twice to notify them and asked their approval to hold these events which are enshrined in the Somaliland constitution, but they refused to heed our request. As such, we went ahead to hold peaceful rallies and demonstrations, but before we could address our supporters the police stormed the square assaulted and arrested all of us,” he explained.
Similarly Fowzia of NDP and the only organization led by a woman accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of marginalized groups and added the government owes them a strong reason as to why they were refused registration.
Some of the leaders under detention have intimated the Somaliland government is behind their organization disqualification and their arrest and they will seek redress from the court. UDHIS which is led by a former war veteran and popular figure, Ibrahim Degeweyne, was largely expected to sail through the registration process and its exclusion has caught many locals by surprise.
Similar demonstations and rallies were in Burao and Berbera towns today.
Despite the fact that in August of last year, Somaliland President Silyano allowed for a multi-party system in the breakaway region, in recent months the political temperature in Somaliland has reached a fever pitch with many dissenting voices emerging even within the ruling party hierarchy, Kulmiye. Mid last month, during Kulmiyes' election in Hargeisa, its First Vice-Chair Abdikadir Abdirahman was forcibly thrown out of process under the order of the party chairman Muse Bihi. During the incident, Abdikadir’s back was broken and he was flown to the UK for specialized treatment, spearking condemnation of the Kulmiye.
With the election for local authorities scheduled to take place in the coming months, analysts warned that if the government doesn’t react positively to the current situation it can easily spiral out of control.