Somalia: Somaliland police raid opposition party HQ, arrest leaders amid calls for rally
HARGEISA, Somaliland - A leading opposition party members were on Sunday arrested in Hargeisa following calls by Waddani party to hold peaceful demonstrations in the secessionist state of Somaliland, Garowe Online reports.
The party’s secretary-general Khadar Abdi and Barkhad Jama, reports indicated, have been arrested moments after his party announced demonstrations that were due on Monday, against the adminstration of President Muse Bihi Abdi.
Jama, who is the official spokesman for the opposition party which opposed the government's plans to have the UAE constructing a military base in the breakaway region, had held a press with party chairman Abdirahman Irro.
"The Police in Hargeisa arrested Barkhad Jama, the spokesperson of Waddani opposition party, who just spoke to the media and repeated the party's call of "demonstration" on tomorrow," activist Ahmed Jama reported on Twitter.
The latest reports from Hargeisa suggest that Police took-over Waddani headquarters and barricaded all roads leading to the opposition party's office ahead of the planned demonstration.
Police Commissioner Mohamed Adan Dabagale had prohibited the demonstrations, terming them 'illegal and unconstitutional' hours after Waddani party's press conference.
"This country has laws and rules which everyone must adhere to. Irro and his team are not exceptional. They must respect the law," he said, adding that the demos were banned.
A defiant Irro told his supporters to turn in large numbers on Monday to 'rescue Somaliland from jeopardy'. He decried the breach of human rights and delay of national polls, accusing Bihi of sabotage.
The Waddani party leaders also blamed Bihi of allegedly associating the party to Somalia 'to score a national political goal'.
Before Jama's arrest, Civil Societies in Somaliland had piled pressure on the regime to hold polls, arguing that the move 'would salvage democracy'.
"We recommend to the President of Somaliland, @musebiihi, to think out of the box and prioritize in holding the long-overdue elections and salvage the country’s democracy. We ask the president to address the opposition’s complaints. The public has a right and demands elections," the group said in a tweet.
"ISCOSomaliland holds a press conference. We regret that Somaliland failed to hold elections on time. We call on the disputed members of NEC to resign. The Guurti shall refrain from making extensions. Further extensions are unconstitutional and will undermine democracy."
The arrest of Jama could further escalate political tensions in Hargeisa, with the Waddani party vowing to go on with planned demonstrations against Bihi's regime.
Somaliland seceded from the larger Somalia but the United Nations rejected attempts to have it recognized as a sovereign state. It's one of the most stable states in Somalia.
The standoff comes at the time Somalia is also preparing to hold a national poll in 2020 when the term of the current parliament comes to an end. The country is formulating election laws.