First of all, it is vital to wholeheartedly condemn the ugly scenes of the forced deportation of Somali citizens, including families, children and business-people . This is a horrible and unacceptable behaviour that violates every tenet of human rights, norms and culture. The businesspeople, families and children may have entered Somaliland without documentation or otherwise. However, they deserve due legal process and human dignity to prepare for any eventualities legal or otherwise.
Somaliland has made remarkable strides for democracy, but democracy is not just about turning at the polls for elections – but are about rights and responsibilities within the confines of the constitution and legal processes for Somaliland citizens and other citizens who have made their homes and livelihood in Somaliland. What we have witnessed in the last 24 hours is contrary to the message Somaliland wants to paint to the international community and falls short of any common decency as well as mature governance.
While underscoring how wrong this behaviour is, we should not also delude ourselves in thinking there are easy solutions. These behaviours and many more fall into a wider political problem. Somali citizens in the South/North have yet to come terms with a new reality of Somaliland as a government – and through this, comes with real insecurities, suspicions and political phobia for Somaliland – and by the same token Somaliland government do not know how to deal with these complex issues resulting in the arrest of anyone who shows political opinion for (Somalia) beyond Somaliland. So, on the surface and on social media, it may seem a standalone problem, but the issues at play falls into greater political architectural problem which has not been solved by Somalia and Somaliland leaders. In fact, they have exacerbated the issue further to the detriment of innocent people.
It is in this context, I fear this is not the last time we will witness such behaviour from all parties, a repeated saga after saga that requires a political settlement, which only imaginative leaders can fulfil. Unfortunately, this is in short supply across Somalia/Somaliland.
The challenges before Somalia and Somaliland are enormous but, on this matter, Somaliland needs to quickly find and project a political confidence and state resilience for any eventualities. You cannot arrest or deport any Somali citizen based on citizenship and ethnicity without due legal process. This is the time to exercise political and democratic maturity beyond the ballot box.
Somali citizens must also respect local laws and structures before coming into Somaliland. Denial of realities on the ground is detrimental to co-existence and development. Somaliland has experienced political assassinations resulting in the death of five people, including local MPs, civil servants, and military personnel. Open door immigration policy invites insecurities and suspicions. This reality must also be considered in our deliberations.
In summary, the forced deportations of business-people, families and children is a stain on Somaliland, disproportionate and unacceptable treatment of human life. I urge President Muse Bihi and all Somaliland authorities to find a new settlement that is process led- and returning these families to Somaliland would be a good start. Failure to do that runs the danger of opening pandora box for others to follow suit. You have set a dangerous precedent for all.
Mohamed Ibrahim BA/MSc, London School of Economics and Political Science, is a keen writer and social justice campaigner, London based, He can be reached via @Mi_shiine