Somaliland, once hailed as a beacon of democracy in Somalia, finds itself at a critical juncture today. President Muuse Biihi's alarming turn towards autocracy threatens not only the foundation of democracy but also the stability and progress the administration has achieved thus far. It is imperative that we address the growing autocratic tendencies and chart a path forward that upholds the principles of democracy, peace, and prosperity.
The extension of Bihii's term for two years, orchestrated by an unconstitutional guurti council, exemplifies the erosion of democratic norms. By sidestepping the constitution and manipulating the political process, Bixii has set a dangerous precedent that undermines the very essence of democratic governance. Such actions weaken trust in institutions, stifle political discourse, and pave the way for authoritarian rule.
Furthermore, the president's decision to wage war against Laascaanood civilians is deeply troubling. This military campaign has resulted in immense social and economic damages, with innocent lives lost, communities displaced, and infrastructure destroyed. The indiscriminate targeting of civilians only exacerbates existing grievances and heightens tensions, threatening to cause irreversible harm to the fabric of society.
Another disconcerting aspect of Bihii's rule is the fostering of divisions among different tribal groups. By sowing seeds of misunderstanding and animosity, his administration has created fertile ground for armed groups like "Gacan Libaax" to emerge. These militant factions, born out of frustration and disillusionment, pose a direct threat to stability and highlight the profound disillusionment with Bihii's leadership.
Equally disturbing is the suppression of press freedom under Bihii's regime. Journalists, such as Bushra Bandey and countless others, have been unjustly jailed without reasonable charges. This crackdown on media serves to quash dissent and control the flow of information, further entrenching autocratic rule. A free press is the cornerstone of democracy, and its stifling erodes the very foundation of a healthy society.
The only viable path forward lies in the immediate holding of presidential elections, preferably by late 2023. This will ensure a peaceful transfer of power and provide an opportunity for a new administration to restore democratic principles. It is crucial to empower the newly elected leadership to reestablish political associations, enabling a vibrant democratic landscape to flourish once again.
President Muuse Biihi must recognize that prolonging his stay in power will have dire consequences for Somaliland. The ramifications of continued autocracy surpass any potential benefits, leading to heightened internal turmoil and international isolation. Denouncing autocracy becomes the responsibility of each and every citizen, as the future of Somaliland and the whole nation is at stake.
We call upon the international community to support the restoration of democracy in Somaliland. It is incumbent upon the global actors to advocate for democratic values, ensuring that the voices and aspirations of the Somaliland people are heard and respected. For a stable, prosperous, and democratic future, we must unflinchingly confront the autocratic path of President Muuse Bihii and uphold the principles of accountable governance.