Commentary on A Somaliland Cabinet Somaliland Cyberspace

Commentary on A Somaliland Cabinet*




Ahmed Mohamed (Silaanyo)


Eng. Mohamed Aynab


Eng. Ahmed Mohamed Bihi


Abdillaahi Mohamed Du'aale
(Ina Dola-Yare)


Omer Maygaag Samatar


Ahmed Hashi Oday

Livestock & Forestry

Mohamed Qaasim Haashi

Commerce & Trade

Yahye Haji Ibrahim


Mahamed Hasan Cawaale

Dev. of Rural Areas.

Jama Salah (Salaah Gaab)


Mohamed Abdi Yusuf (Gaboose)

Interior Affairs

Ali Mohamed Haji Waran-Cade

Public Works

Dr. Abdi Aw Daahir


Sh. Hasan Haji Fara-Taag

Religious Affairs

Rashiid Haji Abdillaahi

Posts and Telecom.

Abdillaahi Hussein Iiman (Darawal)


Daahir Amiye


Ahmed Hussein Oomane


Muse Bashir Sh. Barkhad

State For Foreign Affairs.

Mahmood Mohamed Saleh (Fagadhe)

Foreign Affairs

Rashiid Mohamed Gees


Ibrahim Araye


Abdillahi Omer Qowdhan



Parliament Leadership



Mohamed Ahmed Qaybe

The Chairperson

Abdiqadir Ismail Jirde

The 1st Vice- Chairperson

Omer Hersi Elmi

The 2nd Vice-Chairperson


Council of Guurti



Sh. Ibrahim Sh. Yusuf

The chairperson

Sh. Ahmed Sh. Nuh

The 1st vice chairperson

Empty seat

The 2nd vice chairperson


This brief account gives a somewhat exaggerated impression of social criticism, while it represents a departure from the current political discourse. Accordingly, less interest is given to the parochial aspects of clan distributions, but more emphasis is accorded to the institutional aspects, such as reform of the formal sector, women's advancement and the processes of power entrenchment. In order to lessen its potential effect of distracting readers from the substance of the discussion, the available information on clan affiliations was being omitted. Such information may be reconstructed from region-specific last names and the nicknames, or may be obtained from the traditional news channels.

Universal Issues

Political Campaign without Issues

These appointments do not appear to represent any concrete issues, because hardly any significant issues came up during the election season. On the contrary, the above list of appointees seems to be product of an Herculean proportion based on the pressing issues, which continue to be finding the right mix to meet the perennial challenge of the clan balance question and cultivating loyalty for the retrenchment of the rule.

Predictably, the continuing public preoccupation on the clan factor continues to serve its traditional purpose in the elite politics: Somalis cooperating on their own exploitation, which is the unseen mirror image of their collective behavior in competing for their places in the Hall of Power.

Thus, political behavior there tends to be unorganized, unstructured, and uncoordinated. It is also susceptible to deepening retrenchment, especially on the hands of a charismatic leader, whose work is much simplified - at least initially - by the selective use of the clan symbolism of communication. If the current political process wasn't designed for discussing conventional political issues, not surprisingly, the issue of gender hardly excites much interest even among women, yet there's no other issue as important in changing the social rigmarole than dealing with it.

Gender Bar

The gender bar continues to frustrate highly-educated and qualified women to gain access to policy-making positions. Their ascriptive absence symbolizes the wretched conditions of the country's most important resource: its children. Women are completely confined in "women's work"- typists, nurses, clerks, etc. - and hardly any have entered law, politics, and other professions.

A consequence of this inequality is being that poverty among women is spreading rapidly because of unemployment, low pay, lack of skills, and most importantly, because women are left with children to support, particularly in Somaliland, Awhere divorce has become endemic and the chance for male emigration amounts to a prayer answered. Hence, the conditions where most children find themselves in have been characterized by inadequate education, rampant malnutrition, substandard housing, and inferior health care.

In spite of the presidential candidacy of Rakiya Ali in the last election season, women in the upper and middle echelons of government are as common there as snowflakes in January. Some (both men and women) choose to believe this void is explained by the popular belief that women are inferior; that their "natural" role in life is to give birth and nurture children, and little more.

More and more, however, it has become apparent that this void have existed not because of a natural inferiority of women, but because social factors have not allowed women to fulfill any but the most limited of roles. The higher-paying positions require increasingly greater amounts of education and greater skills, more easily acquired by ambitious males, who, in a pre-industrial society, represent the earning potentials for most families. Much traditional talk centers on an Islamc culture that is said to be responsible for women's social roles.

However, there is little to be gained by discussing "Islam's effects on women", since the Islam practiced in Horn of Africa is a dialect of the Meccan Islam, and a faith does not function in a vacuum. Instead, women became heirs to an ancient anachronistic pathology, with strong economic roots. The female genital mutilation, for instance, can be viewed as a debilitating institution that reinforced the belief that a wife's worth was to judged by her fertility. While to men, who receive a rather cosmetic-type circumcision as boys, numerous offspring are living symbols of virility. Thus, wives and offspring represent wealth in the form of manpower. Despite the wretched conditions, children continue to represent a social security system in a land that suffers from a high infant mortality and a poverty in resources.

Clearly, women are caught in a social/economic vicious circle. The elimination of these debilitating social barriers depends on the political process; in order to embark on a social liberation programme, however, significant level of economic progress will be needed. But economic improvement is less likely to take place in socially constricting environment, which tends to accentuate the apparent neglect. In conclusion, this neglect should be apparent: that the society denied women the possibility of reaching their potential as human beings by constricting them in the roles of housewives and mothers.

Arrested Bureaucracy?

Since 1991, a formal bureaucratic structure has not emerged in the country. Many authors have commented on the necessity of the bureaucratic system in which goals can be attained efficiently and with a minimum of conflict. There is not enough space here for an extensive treatment on the modern bureaucracy, but I will delineate several areas as contrasting talking-points.

These are structures that are deliberately put into existence to enable people who do not know each to carry on complicated relationships for the purpose of attaining specific goals. The individual personalities do not matter because each position consists of activities which remain the same no matter who fills the position. More often, this formality gives the structure stability, predictability, and, more importantly, continuity.

In Africa, instead, driven by the sheer force of the "politics of the belly", in both government and non-governmental entities, there existed an informal system made up of networks of personal and kin relationships that developed among employees, and between the employees and the members of the public they served. These networks are typically responsible for getting things done quicker through the influence of individuals instead of going through regular channels of authority.

Thus, this enduring informal network, in getting around the rules of the formal structure, actually defies the purpose of the establishment of formal governmental structures, and is the source of most corruption and nepotistic practices. If history is any guide, reforming the formal structure first is more important than the introduction of any list of appointees.

Shifting the economy into the formal sector, instituting formal taxation on individuals and businesses and standardizing the civil service system will all depend on the establishment of a formal structure. It will help in reducing the pernicious influence of position-holders, in elevating the public domain to a level that deserves public trust, in enabling it to respond to changing conditions in society and in promoting innovation in society.

Ideally, a formal organization has a formal structure, a degree of permanence, a hierarchical order of authority, and a fixed relationships among members and between the members and the public they serve.

In sum, dealing with these three issues, the reform of the formal sector, women's advancement and the curbing the personal power entrenchment are among the most important ones that hold the key to attaining sustained political and economic recovery, especially, in war-torn countries like in Somaliland.

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* The new Cabinet appointments' information was relayed by Abdiqadir Ibrahim and thanks are due to him.

Mohamed Bali
Somaliland CyberSpace
June 5, 1997.

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