In response to a recent statement purportedly written by Dr Michael Walls, head of the international election observers mission (IEOM) for Somaliland’s presidential election held on 13th November 2017 which was circulated in Somaliland Media on 26th July 2018,
We would like to highlight the following issues:
In his statement, Dr Walls distanced himself from alleged links between him and a number of well-known Kulmiye party figures, the party that its candidate Mr Musa Bihi Abdi dubiously won the 13th November election. These alleged links were disclosed in a Youtube programme named Baadi-Goob released on 20th June 2018 by an independent Investigative Journalist Abdirisaaq Terra. The programme simply raised concerns regarding potential ‘’conflict of interest’’ due to Dr Walls’s links with these individuals.
Dr Walls dismissed these alleged links or accusations, as he called them, as incoherent, poorly evidenced and lacking substantiation, and also seemed to mingle with the Somaliland clannish politics in his comments. Let us examine these matters closely one by one and find out whether these are baseless allegations or whether there are credible
grounds to suspect there is a ‘conflict of interest’ here.
It is alleged that Dr Walls have strong links with Ayan Mohamed Mohamoud also known as Ayan Ashour and her husband Dr Jama Musse Jama and the organisations these two individuals run, namely Kayd Somali Arts and Culture and Hargeisa International Bookfair. Ms Mohamoud is currently the head of the Somaliland Mission in the UK and was appointed by the former president Ahmed Siilaanyo in 2016. She is a close relative of the former president and former Chairman of Kulmiye Ahmed Siilaanyo. Her husband Dr Jama is the Director of the Hargeisa Book Fair and also hails from the same clan as the current incumbent president and chairman of Kulmiye party Musse Bihi Abdi. Both are well-known Kulmiye party members and supporters and have strong clan based allegiance with the Kulmiye party and its former and current presidents. This is not a discreet business, in contrary; whole of Somaliland knows these individuals are prominent Kulmiye party figures.
In further examining the above links, there is clear evidence that Dr Walls, Jama Musse Jama and Ayan Mohamoud have been Company Directors of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture. This is a UK registered private company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 18th March 2009. Company number: 06851116. Registered office address: Oxford House,Derbyshire Street, London, England, E2 6HG.
This company has had 11 Directorships, consisting 9 individuals, since its incorporation in March 2009, five of them had since resigned, although it appears that two of these resigned members were reinstated in different positions within the company straight after their resignation or even before it.
Interestingly, the only three people that incorporated this company in March 2009 are Dr Walls, Ayan Mohamoud and Quman Akli. Dr Walls has consistently been a director and remains the chairman of the company to date. Dr Walls and Ms Mohamoud who was the managing Director before her resignation in October 2016 are persons with significant influence and control. The resignation of Ms Mohamoud and her husband Dr Jama coincides with her appointment as the Head of the Somaliland Mission in the UK by her close relative and President of Somaliland Ahmed Siilaanyo. Hypothetically, Ms Mohamoud and her husband’s resignation from the Company seems to be actical moves but it is well known to the Somaliland community in the UK that they do have significant influence on the day to day operation of Kayd Arts and Culture, Somali Week and Hargeisa international book-fair.
There is further evidence that Dr Walls has been heavily involved with this Kulmiye group as he was also a director of another company incorporated on 19th September 2013 by Musa Hassan Yousuf notably Shifat Somali Health, Company number: 08697947, Registered office address: 56 Tyndall Street, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 4BE. This company was dissolved on 5th April 2016. Dr Walls was appointed as a director of this company on 19th September 2013, which implies he was one of the co-founders along Mr Yousuf.
What is interesting in this Company is that Mr Yousuf is a close relative of Ayan Mohamoud and is also President Siilaanyo’s son-law. In addition, Somalilandfocus is another forum which the same people such as Dr Walls, Ayan Mohamoud, Su’aad Odawaa also known as Su’aad Armiye, Dr Sa’ad Ali Shire, currently Somaliland foreign minister and Quman Jibril Akli are all either members at present or in the past. All these named individuals of Somaliland origin have strong political and tribal allegiance with the Kulmiye party and its successive presidents Mr
Siilaanyo and Mr Bihi.
We believe Dr Walls has every right to defend himself if he feels he is wrongly accused of partisanship but we would have thought and expected he would come up with explanations regarding his above mentioned links with this partisan group or in other words, die-hard Kulmiye supporters. However, it was shocking and infuriating to many
that he explicitly linked the Baadi-Goob programme to Waddani opposition party’s 24th June press release in response to the programme findings and a tribal conference held 3 and concluded at Ga’an Libah Mountains on 1st July 2018 by one of the largest tribes in Somaliland, notably the Garhajis. In his statement, he has also implicitly accused of this group that they are undermining Somaliland’s progress. For many, this was a further evidence of his political and vested interest in the ruling party, because this was not the sort of language expected from an international observer. This is pure mingling of local politics and it has resulted furore within Somaliland people, both inside Somaliland and in the diaspora. It was also unwelcome move from Dr Walls when the country is currently experiencing the worst social, economic and political divisions since 1994 including tribal wars in the eastern parts of the country and mutiny within the Somaliland army.
We believe without prejudice that Dr Walls’s links and involvement with the ruling political clique is deeply worrying and in conflict with the 2005 endorsed Declaration of principles for international election observation and code of conduct for international election observers.
Observers must maintain strict political impartiality at all times during the period of their accreditation and must not express or exhibit any bias or preference in relation to the national authorities, political parties or candidates. Observers also must not conduct any activity that could be perceived as favouring or providing partisan gain for any political group. We believe that Dr Walls’s recent comments towards the Garhajis conference is a clear indication of his vested interest and partisanship and strengthens the growing belief amongst many in Somaliland that he has favoured the Kulmiye party in the November 2017 election through influence from his close associates.
Dr Walls is not a naïve person. He is an intellectual, a learned man and a professor after all. He has written extensively about Somaliland and Somalia and undoubtedly is well familiar with the business of clan politics and structure. So we all wonder why he wasable to swiftly make the link between the Baadi-Goob programme, Waddani press release and the Garhajis Conference.
And, by doing so, one would have the legitimate question of why he did not make similar links between all the aforementioned individuals he has been heavily involved and Mr Siilaanyo, Bihi, and Kulmiye party. It is extremely perplexing that he has identified one way or another that the said Baadi-Goob journalist and the opposition party candidate Mr Abdirahman Irro hail from the clan that held a conference at Ga’an Libah Mountains and implicitly accused them of undermining the very system of Somaliland, as he put it.
Dr Walls said the following in his statement ‘’..the act of accusing a wide range of actors in civil society and in public positions has the effect of undermining the very system of Somaliland, and therefore Somaliland itself. The clear appearance is of a group who wishes to blame everyone but themselves for their failure to achieve their goals’’.
In our view, this is clear insinuation and victimisation of the opposition who took a brave decision to compromise for the good and best interest of Somaliland’s peace and stability when they actually had a good case not to accept the election outcome at all.
In that above quote, it is equally remarkable to see that Dr Walls seems to act as a mouthpiece for Somaliland’s civil society and public organisations, because they were criticised in the Baadi-Goob programme. Simple examples of these organisations are SONSAF (civil society organisation) run by a close clan relative of the Kulmiye party candidate and current president. The biggest opposition party withdrew their confidence from this organisation months before the election however the Somaliland Electoral Commission used them as observers despite the boycotting by the biggest opposition party. Some of the other public organisations exposed in the programme are the Police, Military forces and the Judiciary, and for each one of them the programme has presented
credible evidence for their partisanship with the Kulmiye party.
Moreover, we found the language used by Dr Walls very patronising, arrogant and very interfering. It is unfortunate that Dr Walls has never mentioned anywhere and has not shown any moral compass, to our knowledge, about the innocent killing and wounding of poor civilians by the Kulmiye party run administration including a 15 year old unarmed school girl who was not even participating the protests that took place just after the polling day.
We, at Hevos, are of the view that Somaliland parties and Media have every right to reflect on the outcome of the election held in Somaliland in November 2017 and raise any issues of concern, particularly as this was a heavily disputed election which left deep and worrying social divisions within Somaliland tribes/communities and regions. We also strongly believe that the Baadi-Goob investigative programme has highlighted some significant fallacies which need to be addressed if Somaliland wishes to establish a credible democratic system in which parties can fight elections on a reasonable level playfield.
Finally, we would like to bring to the attention of the British government and parliament that Dr Walls and his team have lost credibility and objectivity and hence would not be suitable to be used for next Parliament and local elections in Somaliland, envisaged to take place in March 2019.
May I conclude by saying we are extremely grateful for the ongoing support the British government and the EU provide to Somaliland’s people.
By Mohammed Guun
Chairman of HEVOS