By Bashir Goth
Although Somali people in general and Somalilanders in particular are used to Faisal Ali Waraabe’s outrageous statements, he recently went over the top when he called upon government to launch a “purging campaign just like Turkey is doing” against what he branded as “internal enemies”.
Talking at a ceremony held in Hargeisa to celebrate the signing of the DP World-Berbera agreement, Faisal, head of UCID Party, blasted the traditional elders of Awdal Region who recently called back their representatives in the two houses of Somaliland for consultation as being seditious, noting that that the elders’ action could lead to dismantle the statehood of Somaliland.
What Faisal forgot or rather ignored to admit is that the representatives are accountable to the people that elected them and every electorate has the right to call upon their MPs anytime for consultation, to present their grievances to them, or to question them about their record. Therefore, when the elders of Awdal called back their representatives for a meeting they were exercising their democratic rights in a civil and peaceful manner. This is indeed a legitimate action which also sets a commendable precedence for the relationship between the people and their elected representatives.
You see, the elders didn’t include their appeal to the Awdal ministers in the cabinet because they know they didn’t elect them. The MPs , however, are elected by the people and they are answerable to their constituents. Every region in the country has the right to question and grill their MPs and ask them to address their concerns.
But Faisal saw this not only as a threat to the democracy and unity of Somaliland but as a subversive action that needs to be nipped in the bud. And his recommendation was to carry out a countrywide “purge” against what he called “inside enemies”. He actually used the word “purge” in English and cited the example of Turkey where President Erdogan’s government arrested more than 60,000 people in a missive witch hunt against real and alleged coup plotters at the outrage of human rights organizations and Turkey’s NATO allies.
I hope Faisal knows that the word “purge” is not a word to be used lightly. The word gained bad connotation in the 20th century and was associated with tyrants and dictators such as Stalin’s Russia, Communist China in its dark days, North Korea and many of the former Soviet satellite dictators. In Russia alone, history says that Stalin purged around 1.3 million people and most of them were executed. I hope Faisal is not calling Somaliland to usher in an era of fear where people are arbitrarily arrested, witch hunted, and purged for doing nothing wrong but exercising their constitutional rights.
Faisal Waraabe is a friend of mine and a man that I otherwise admire some of his bold positions on difficult situations but he is also a flamboyant and colorful politician who doesn’t shy away from uttering deplorable statements that can sometimes rise to hate speech just for the fun of it or to be in the lime light. I am sure Faisal could have been a remarkable statesman but I assume he found notoriety to be more gainful than being a decent politician. I am glad, however, that the people of Somaliland have got used to Faisal’s outbursts and do not take him seriously or so I hope.