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Somalia: Puntland President's speech at Mogadishu University (Bossaso campus)

Speech of Puntland President at Mogadishu University (Bossaso Campus)
H.E. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole)
December 27, 2012

**English transcript of President’s speech delivered in Somali language

Assalamu Alaykum.

This land [Puntland] used to be referred to as ‘Gaari-waa’ (inaccessible by vehicle). People could not access this land [Puntland] by vehicle from Mogadishu. That today many universities are open in Puntland, where higher education is available, is a positive development.

President Farole speaks at Mogadishu University (Bossaso campus) on Dec. 27, 2012
Education, Knowledge and Experience

Your generation of students is fortunate, because when we were young we had to travel to Mogadishu to attend sixth grade. Some traveled from Bossaso, and I travelled from Eyl. You are aware of the road that we traveled to Mogadishu; it was unpaved in those earlier years, and we used to travel for 10 days and change from vehicle to vehicle. I traveled to Mogadishu simply to attend sixth grade, which was not available this vast region [Puntland] at the time. Today, your fortunate generation is receiving university education here in Puntland.

Earlier today, we also met with students of East Africa University here in Bossaso. Isn’t your generation much more fortunate than my generation? Firstly, praise be to Allah Almighty, and secondly, you should praise the creative academics and intellectuals who established this university during the Somali conflict years. This university is a branch of Mogadishu University, which was established by Dr. Abdirahman Badiyow and other intellectuals. This branch in Bossaso was opened during my term as President of Puntland, and we allowed the university to keep Mogadishu University and open its branch here in Bossaso.

The reason is that the Somali people will not go apart. Let the names be interchanged. Perhaps tomorrow Bossaso University will open a branch in Mogadishu.

People of my generation are old. Allah has created humankind in generations that replace each other, that one human replaces another human. Every old man will be replaced by his children. Every generation will be replaced by another generation. You are expected to benefit from our life experiences, to compete academically, and to be informed about the realities in Puntland, in Somalia, and around the world.

Girl’s education

I remember, during my early education years, every classroom had only one female student. Today in every classroom we see, half of the students are girls. A society that does not educate boys and girls is not a society at all. When girls receive education, then a society’s foundations are built well.

The past and the new era

Your generation did not witness government during your time, except perhaps what you read in books. During the 21-year military dictatorship [of President Mohamed Siyad Barre], the country was ruled like a military camp and the government was collapsing slowly, as the military dictatorship arrested the private sector people who are instrumental in development. The military dictatorship established false agencies, such as Ministry of National Construction. Your generation has not witnessed what we have witnessed. You have arrived during a new era. We need the new generation to understand how Somalia used to be and the experience of our history.

The New Somalia

A new process is underway in Somalia and in Puntland. The country is emerging from the collapse years.  The collapse and destruction was not limited only to buildings. There is the mental destruction; the mind was destroyed by clannism (qabyaalad) – it was clannism that created animosity among the Somali people. This was followed by the proliferation of weapons, alcohol, khat [narcotic leaf], and mass exodus.

It is estimated that Somalia has a population of 10million people. I think Somalia has more population. Somali refugees alone are estimated at 5million people. Bossaso alone has a population of nearly 1million people.

Terrorism and Clannism

These are the experiences of Somalia. There has emerged a group that only carries weapons, but the ‘we are Muslims’. This is a violent group that is waging an unknown jihad, they are not Muslims they are the Devil with a weapon that lies about our Islamic religion.

The terrorists like to recruit from Somali youth. They use many roads in their recruitment process. The terrorists plant the seeds of clan hatreds by saying ‘you are so-and-so clan, so-and-so clan have the power’. The terrorists go to religious groups, and they tell them ‘that person is so-and-so religious sect, that person is Itihad group, that person is Islah group, that person is Ahlu Sunnah group’; nowadays, there are new religious sects, such as ‘Ahlu Sheikh’ or Ahlu Dam’ [Dam Jadiid].

None of that is true. Islam has four schools of thought. In Somalia, it is said that the Somali people Muslim, they are Sunni, and they are Shafici school of thought. Let us not go into more divisions after that.

The terrorists want to achieve political power through the bloodshed of innocent people, through the destruction of the country, through manipulating young children by telling them that ‘you are Muslim and we are fighting non-Muslims’; but when the terrorist delivers to young child to the mountain hideouts or some other place that the child cannot come back from, the terrorists tell the child that ‘you are a slave’ and then destroy the child’s mental, psychological and physical health and well being.

Security is the basis of life

Security is the most basic of all humankind’s needs. If there is no security, there is no life. If you don’t have security, you will not eat, you will not drink, you will not get shelter from the hot sun, and you will always be fleeing. This is the problem plaguing Somalia today. Security is the foundation of all humankind’s basic needs.

If you receive education, know that you are rich. The people always need you. They will say ‘come be my teacher’ or ‘you are a doctor, come and cure me’. The man with money but without education needs your education.

The destructive nature of clannism

This is the direction we are heading towards. But this direction has a road. That road does not contain clannism. Clannism does not produce good people. Clannism produces bad people. Clannism produces people who say ‘who will fight so-and-so clan’ and will not let anyone live. If every clan forwards the murderers, thieves, and criminals who will not anyone live, what will be left of us ordinary citizens?

Democratization process

Puntland is moving away from the clan based political system, but this change is difficult for the people to comprehend because they have not experienced it. The democratization process that we are undertaking now has a big meaning and benefit for us.

Some groups say democratization is unreligious. That is false information. Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln defined democratization as: government from the people, for the people, to the people. This means a government elected by the people, which represents the people.

How will the people elect? There is a process to follow. Each person votes for parliamentary candidates of the political party that has the most convincing political agenda. The voter elects that political party’s candidates to parliament so they can enact laws and lead the nation, without considering clan. So the political party with most votes will establish the government. Therefore, the government comes from the people.

Once you are elected by the people, you must work for the good of the country and the people. If you work for bad things, the people will elect the opposition political party and you will leave office. So it is compulsory for elected public officials to work for the good of the country and the people.

There is also another benefit. Previously unknown persons will receive an opportunity to be recognized and for their leadership to be acknowledged. So the young generation will emerge from this system, depending on how well they work for the common good of the country and the people.

Islamic countries around the world have adopted democratization, both Sunni and Shia countries. We in Puntland have established a Constitution founded on Islamic Shariah law, we have chosen this constitution, we have voted for this constitution, and we have accepted this constitution of Puntland.

Somali Federal Constitution

Puntland has worked hard so that Somalia has a constitution. The country is moving towards multiparty political system. Puntland has worked hard so that Somalia ends the transitional period. I am informing you that Puntland Government played the biggest role in establishing a Somali Federal Constitution, as Puntland has welcomed Somali groups, invited Somali groups to Puntland, and worked hard for the Somali Federal Constitution, with the collaboration of other Somalis and the international community.

Some groups are screaming. They scream that ‘Puntland established the Somali Federal Constitution’. This is praise for Puntland if they say such things. Puntland did not establish the Somali Federal Constitution alone, but Puntland played an instrumental role.

What such groups mean to say is that they oppose what is written in the Somali Federal Constitution. Such groups oppose the federal system. So how else will Somalia be reunited, as Puntland has left? Should Puntland leave even more? Isn’t our common to reunite Somalia? So what other way can Somalia be reunited again? Somalis must share some national things, and some other things should be owned separately.

Somali students should be educated about ‘nations’ and ‘states’ – Somali people are a nation; one nation. But Somalia has different ‘states’. Puntland is a state, Somaliland is state; my feeling is that Somaliland, once it gets tired of decades of non-recognition, will eventually return to Somalia.

Anti-federal groups
Those who say ‘we don’t want federal system’ – I ask them to propose a new system. Can any politician deny the federal constitution upon which he was elected? If such politician says the federal constitution does not exist, that means that politician does not exist. We are not criticizing or disrespecting anyone, but we are saying unequivocally that Somalia has a federal constitution and must be respected, implemented and adhered to.  We are saying that other Federated States of Somalia should be assisted in their formation, other states should be established, Jubaland community that is complaining about political interference should freely establish their own state, let all the local communities be represented as they are here in Puntland, likewise a new state should be established in central regions and other regions of Somalia.

The new generation

By that time, Somalia is reunited. Your generation has grown by then, you have graduated from universities, you will become tomorrow’s leaders. Your generation should support and work towards the multiparty political system. Be careful of Al Shabaab terrorist group and religious extremist sects. You are all Muslims and this is enough. I am a Muslim, nothing else. This is a great praise from Allah Almighty, to be a Muslim. Yout should know that religious groups that divide the people eventually want to establish armed groups that kill each other and kill the people.

Security is the basis of all life and the young generation should strive to keep the peace and security. If you see someone destroying our peace, if he is your brother, or your cousin, or your friend, or your clan, you should report him to police authorities.

President’s warning and prayer

I pray to Allah Almighty that He puts you all on the road to success and makes you all brothers and sisters to each other, and you never divide among each other based on clans. The first friend emerges from classrooms. My first friends that I always love are the students I met in classrooms I attended. You should know that the first friend is the student that you attend class with, that you become educated together, and that there is an understanding among you. That is how clannism will be destroyed in Somalia.

The people that are expected to reunite and develop Somalia tomorrow is your generation.  Please benefit from us older generation the words of wisdom and experience.

The people that tell you that multiparty political system is bad, or that time is too short, or that political parties do not exist, these are people who lack the people’s confidence that fear they will not be elected tomorrow. Such people want the people to kill each other so that it is said ‘stop the violence’ and that all decisions should be returned to the clans. They say ‘we are clans that united’.

When I was among the founders of Puntland and I helped to write the 1998 Puntland Charter. Nowhere in that Charter does it say that ‘so-and-so clans united’; the Charter says a number of regions united to form Puntland. Each region is home to many clans. There is no region that exclusively belongs to any single clan. Puntland consists of regions that are neighbors, who united to form Puntland administration, and who have a shared history of suffering and fled southern Somalia. But Puntland regions did not go too far, like Somaliland. Puntland people said we will stay in the middle, and we will spend effort to reunite Somalia, we will invest time and resource to reunite Somalia while there is hope. If all hope is lost in Somalia, the Puntland people will ask each other ‘Somalia has lost hope what should we do?’

I wish you all success and prosperity.

Source: Puntland Government

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