President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo
''In the name of Allah the most merciful the most gracious: Thanks to Allah, prayers and peace be upon his prophets and messengers''.....: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of both houses, Honorable leaders of the National Parties, esteemed guests and members of the Media, I say to you Peace and Blessings be upon you all.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members;
- On behalf of my government, I extend my appreciation and congratulations to both houses for the excellent working relationship we have established in the past years. This demonstrates how the Institutions of the Government are working to address the challenges that face our people and this nation. Furthermore; my deepest gratitude goes to the brave people of Somaliland for their undying devotion and patriotism to protect and advance the interest and the causes of this nation, and
for their support to this government.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; I am here with you today to address a joint meeting of both Houses as required by our constitution and to report on the state of the nation; including what my administration has accomplished in 2012 and our plans for the new year of 2013.
Opening of the Political Process & Municipal Elections
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; It was a year ago in this very chamber that I made the promise to hold the Municipal elections, which have not taken place for over ten years. Despite the inherent difficulties, the political, economic, and security burdens involved in opening up the political process by forming new parties and holding Municipal elections, my administration successfully conducted the promised election in a timely fashion.
Somaliland constitution requires an open political process, this was also one of my campaign promises, the public demanded it too, and the commission I nominated to advise on this is sure recommended that the government submit legislation to the parliament that will open the political process. I submitted such legislation to this Chamber and you have created the institutional and legal basis to support it.
We have made it possible for our citizens with political ambitions to find the appropriate avenues to pursue their ambitions and have the opportunity to become candidates and be elected into public office. We have provided security for more than 1800 polling stations to make sure municipal elections were conducted in a free, fair and secure manner, in according to the International standards. We have paid 33% of the funding for the elections (even though we were required to pay for only 25% of the expenses while the rest was funded by the International community).
Additionally we spent one billion Somaliland Shillings in order to provide transportation for the polling station observers of the contesting political parties
This was accomplished with the understanding that it is in the best interest of the country to advance the democratic process and hold elections, allowing the people an opportunity to elect their representatives despite the tribal nature of our culture when choosing our leaders.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; My administration prohibited the use of government facilities and vehicles to be used for political party activities. We also banned all government workers to participate in and support the events of any political entity while using the office of Government to advance one party over another. The public Media (Radio Hargeysa and Public TV) was made available to all contenders on an equal basis. Great care was taken by this administration to safeguard the independence of the Election Commission to conduct its duty without interference by anyone.
We have successfully concluded a peaceful election after a vigorous campaign by 7 parties/associations. In the end, three parties advanced to become national parties: Kulmiye, WADANI, UCID; There were four parties that did not win to advance to national parties and there were also 1865 candidates who lost their races. This shows the magnitude and the impact this election had in our nation.
Somaliland is lucky to have elders and politicians who always put the interest of the country before theirs and I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the leaders of the political associations who despite their misgivings about the results have conceded the election and graciously accepted the outcome; Dr. Mohamed Abdi Gabose, Hassan Mohamed Ali “Gaafaadhi”, and Ismail Adan Osman.
Budget and Revenue Growth
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; Since my election, one of my top priorities was to focus on the economy and increase government revenue through increased efficiency measures. We have streamlined the tax rules and lowered tax on basic necessities which impact the lives of our people. We fought with and reduced the corruption and the theft of public property and assets. We provided development training for government employees, awareness programs to the public at large, we have had consultation meetings with private businesses, and with wealthy Importers. These activities allowed us to grow government revenue annually. We have instituted new tax collection processes in all the regions as of April 12, 2012. We have also appointed a new National Budget Committee which is responsible for drafting our national budget.
We inherited a large deficit and debt from the previous administration and the 2010 budget presented to us was a mere 330,909,580,627 SL Shillings ($46 million dollars). The 2013 government budget is $174 million dollars (one trillion SL Shillings). This is the largest budget in the history of Somaliland and it is also a balanced budget.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We have introduced new retirement pension accounts and implemented the collection of additional 1% tax on income which is a law this Chamber approved last year. This tax will pay for new established retirement pension for the Central Government employees who qualify for retirement. We have also implemented a new 5% tax on sales of Cigarette and Qad (Chat) at the wholesale level, we introduced new revenue sources to sectors of the economy that have not been paying their fair share of the taxes, such as new payroll income tax for teachers and administrators of private schools, and we established new rules for renting government houses.
My government has increased payments to local governments in both 2011 and 2012 by approximately 20%. This allowed local governments to increase their services to the people in the last two years by implementing new projects such as roads, garbage collection, and other new projects.
As required by law, we have submitted a full balanced budget report for the years 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011; this has not been done since 2002. The government is required by law to provide accountability and issue a complete report on all the government budgeted expenses for the previous budget year.
Department of Interior and Defense of Nation
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We have given our first priority to the defense, security and stability of the nation. In that regard we are committed to support our brave and dedicated security forces in cities and our heroic uniformed soldiers who protect our borders.
We have professionalized the armed forces and increased their rank by 1800 soldiers. We have increased their equipment, capacity and logistics including training, armored vehicles, communication and their ability to rapidly respond to national security incidents.
We have provided medical equipment and increased the capacity of the special military hospitals in Hargeisa and Burao. We have built a training school for the armed forces in Dardarweyne where a large number of soldiers have already graduated since my administration was sworn in.
We have built and fully equipped a new Special Forces Unit of the Army, whose role is to protect our borders from external security threats. We are confident this Special Forces Unit will play a vital role in providing security for this nation.
To increase the morale of the armed forces and the quality of our professional military force, we have provided training to a large number of officers in and outside the country. We have also allocated in the 2013 budget the salaries commiserate to each soldier’s rank, from private soldier to the highest officers in the armed forces. This will impact more than 5000 soldiers who are officers in the army. This issue has been the number one request from our armed forces for more than a decade and we’ll achieve that in 2013.
With the resolution of this issue, it will make it possible for the armed forces to recruit and retain more soldiers, especially now that we have so many officers joining the ranks after receiving their training abroad. We see this action as yet another example of our resolve to support the armed forces of Somaliland.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We have increased the ranks of the police force with new younger recruits who have graduated either from high school or the local universities. We have hired 3900 new police officers (including 632 female officers) and they have all completed the required training at Mandhera Police Training School.
Additionally we have created a highly trained police unit (Rapid Reaction Unit) designed to quickly react to public security threats. We have increased the police presence throughout the country by building 75 new police stations who are fully equipped and 95 police Centers. Furthermore we have provided 30 new vehicles, police communication equipment, and training for police officers.
We have submitted to the Parliament a legislation addressing the structure of the police force and are in the process of building a new institute geared to train the police forces in matters of the law and the constitution as it relates to human rights and outreach community programs between the police and the local communities.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We have increased the number and the capabilities of our Coast Guard and Immigration personnel. New communication equipment and training has been provided to these forces in order for them to discharge their duties efficiently and protect our waterways and ports of entries at all times.
We have streamlined the Visa process of entry and exit for Somaliland by introducing international standard equipment to screen travelers (PIRS System) and recognize forged passports. We have made it easier for those seeking entry Visa into the country to obtain it from abroad, online or at the port of entry.
We have built a new three floor office building with 40 offices for the Immigration Agency to better serve the growing need of the nation. Also new facilities have been built in all ports of entry for the Immigration Agency. A new scan-able electronic Somaliland passport is coming that will elevate its design to international standards and we hope this will make it easier for our people to travel. Furthermore a new legislation was passed to enhance the laws governing the operations of our national security agencies.
The people of Somaliland are renowned for protecting their peace and stability. My administration is aware that we must have peace to realize progress. We are also working hard to establish peace with our neighbors, and prepared to do our out most to safeguard the peace and stability in our nation at any cost.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; Fighting illiteracy and investing in education is the key to uproot poverty and increases the chances of advancement in life. Education is a priority for my government and to that effect we have established a special fund that allows free education to all our children in primary and middle schools.
We have provided more free books than ever before to Elementary and Middle schools and have created the capacity for the Ministry of Education to print text books in the country in order to provide an adequate number of textbooks to students. The current target is one text book per two students. We have built 145 new primary and middle schools and rehabilitated 10 high schools with new classes in the regions. We have 24 new schools that are under construction now.
We have established a good working relationship with the International Agencies and the international community which support and provide different levels of education assistance and this allowed us to increase our education budget for 2013 to $14.8 million dollars (EU 11 million).
There have been 6,646 students who graduated from Somaliland Universities and it is a testimony to our progress in higher education. Despite the high unemployment rate in our country; I believe illiteracy is one of our biggest enemies. Our future economic development and progress depends on building an educated society. That is why my government developed a national strategy for the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
Mr. Chairman and Honored members; My government understands the importance of providing adequate healthcare to our people. We made improvements in the quality and quantity of health care available to our people. This is done so that we reduce the need for our people to travel abroad to get medical attention. The Ministry of Health has submitted its 5 year plan to improve the health care services available in the country. We have also submitted a proposed Healthcare legislation to this Chamber for your attention.
Anew hospital building for Women and Children (named after Dr. Mohamed Aden Sheikh) is under construction in Hargeisa by generous Donors. When complete it will significantly contribute in improving the healthcare provided to women and children in Hargeisa.
We have provided new equipment, services, and made significant improvements to many of the regional hospitals in the country, where we have instituted the Essential Package of health Services (EPHS) at these hospitals.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; In our effort to grow the economy and increase the production of agriculture in Somaliland, the Ministry of Agriculture has tested and introduced new seeds or crops with the potential to increase farming output in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture succeeded in growing rice locally where such crops were never harvested locally before. A variety of other crops are currently being tested and many of them show real promise for the future of agriculture in the country.
We have provided a training program for 2000 farmers within the last two years who received training in better farming techniques that would improve their farm output. The government provided farming tools, ten grinding mills, water pipes, and ten farm tractors at discounted prices to the farmers.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; The people in Somaliland depend on their livestock, and because this is of such vital importance to our economy and the well being of our society; we have provided veterinary services including immunization to 500,000 heads of sheep and goats last year. We have hired 50 new Veterinary Doctors who graduated from the Burao University, Sheikh Veterinary School, and from Ethiopia.
We have established two new teams of Doctors to respond to emergencies who were deployed in 24 different locations last year. We have built facilities in livestock markets to provide water and rest area (shade) to the livestock. We provided water wells and veterinary services to all the major holding pens; before livestock is exported abroad. This has increased the export of live stock and has grown the local economy and created jobs in the country. We have for the first time reduced the charges paid to the Quarantine facilities in Berbera from $6.00 to $4.00 per head of livestock. The $2 dollar savings are equally shared between the government and the livestock exporters.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; It is evident that Somaliland has fulfilled all the requirements necessary to achieve independent nation status. Somaliland has peace and stability, defined borders; it is a democratic nation with law and order, with a constitution that defines the separation of power between the different branches of government. All of it made possible by a society willing to respect and abide by its laws.
We are all here today because we have been elected by our people to be their leaders; it is the reason why the international community acknowledges our legitimacy, it is the reason why I am the President of this nation, accountable to you as their representatives.
Somaliland is a place where human rights and international laws are observed and respected. It is also true that we have good relations with the international community who support Somaliland with a number of modest programs. However we have not yet received full recognition status from the international community.
We have visited several countries where we discussed Somaliland causes with the leaders of those nations. We have also received delegations in Hargeisa that met with me and received a briefing from our side. We have engaged International Agencies with experience in matters relating to International recognition for countries such as ours. We have tangible relationship with the governments in the region, Arab Countries, EU Countries, and the United States.
The talks between Somaliland and Somalia are promising and were based on the outcome of the London conference in Feb 23, 2012, where the International community expressed their support to see the dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia to determine the future relationship between the two countries. This Chamber approved the talks and provided my government the legal basis to have this dialogue with Somalia. That was a good step towards building peace in the region and with our neighbors.
We have a good understanding with the new government of Somalia. Today we are working hard to develop our nation and get the International community to respect our self-determination and sovereignty.
The recognition of the government of Somalia by the US government does not concern Somaliland; it is a new development for Somaliland only speaks to the US acceptance of the new government in Mogadishu and the new process that created it. We are not concerned about this nor do we see this as an ominous sign, in fact we are glad to see Somalia achieve a modem of stability and peace.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We can attest that there is a good relationship between Somaliland and the US government and the US recognition of Somali government will have no impact in our ongoing and fruitful engagement with the US. The Government of the United States has assured us that its recognition of the government of Somalia will not prevent the US government from engaging in Somaliland nor prevent them from maintaining ongoing programs in Somaliland.
The US Government further assured us that it made sure to clarify this with the Somali government before deciding to recognize them.
My fellow citizens; the most important goal of this nation is to get recognition from the International community. Reaching this goal is a common responsibility that requires our unity and the collective effort of my administration, this honorable Chamber, the leaders of all national parties and the brave people of Somaliland.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; When I came into this office I was presented with a government that was completely broke, public employee and armed forces did not get paid salary for four months. There have also been a host of other problems that we do not have the time and space to enumerate.
It is a fact that my administration has achieved tangible progress in a short period of time and we have addressed many of the immediate challenges that were facing this nation. The history will show the accomplishments of my administration. I want to share with you a sample of the achievements of my administration.
Peace and Stability; we have ended the long conflict in Ceelbardaale, the conflict in Kalshaale and Buuhoodle and we have successfully made peace agreement with the armed SSC militia whose leader is a cabinet member of this administration.
Education; we have made the public elementary and middle schools free for all students; this allowed the low income families to send all of their children to school including girls. In the last two years 7,817 new students have been enrolled. We have also built 165 new schools and hired more than 2000 new teachers.
Government Revenue; the government revenue in 2010 was 330 billion SL Shillings ($46 million dollars), we grew the revenue to 1.75 trillion ($175 million dollars). This is 380% increase in two years and it is testament to the growth in the economic activities of the country as well as the effective functioning of the state.
Public Media: We have purchased new transmitters, for Radio Hargeisa, that have the capacity to reach all the regions of Somaliland and neighboring countries. We have expanded the Somaliland Television services to reach audiences outside the country. This will carry our message to large audiences and help us to educate the international community about Somaliland, its culture, and people.
Water: We dug 42 new deep wells in the last two years compared to 89 wells in the previous 20 years. We have rehabilitated the water systems in most of the regions in the last two years. Worth noting is that we have started a water project in Hargeisa that will provide sufficient water to the city, and this project will cost $21.3 million dollars.
Legislation’s: I express my gratitude to this Chamber for the good working relationship we have had in the last two years. I proposed 27 legislation’s to this Chambers and 21 of those have been enacted into law in the last two years.
The 2013 Somaliland Government Plan of Action
Mr. Chairman and honorable members, We held cabinet-level strategy meetings in October 2012 that laid out the blueprint for the 2013 government plan. The following areas have been identified as government’s top priorities:
We will strengthen the security of the country and intensify the war on terror, piracy and against those who threaten our peace and security. We will increase inter-collaboration and communication between the different branches of the security forces. Special attention will be paid to expand the security, capacity, and services to the regional government (such as Sool and Eastern Sanaag)
We will strengthen our judicial system by increasing its capacity and quality to make it more efficient and transparent so that our people will have more trust in the judicial system and in our courts.
Economy – Creating Jobs
The best way to create more jobs is to grow our economy and that is one of our primary tasks. We’ll seek investors to develop our natural resources to create more jobs, we’ll implement government projects that will create jobs in the country, and we’ll support our private industries to help them grow and create even more jobs.
Food Security & Self- Sufficiency:
It is our priority to grow enough food in the country to feed our people. To achieve this we’ll be increasing the output of our farmers by providing them more equipment, training in new farming techniques, and more seeds. We will exploit the riches of our seas by growing the local fishing industry and enticing investors to invest in this fishing industry.
Land Management Policy
We will submit legislation to this Chamber that will setup a sensible land management policy for the nation and will address the persistent land conflicts that are wide and deep in the country. This policy will setup a zoning mechanism for grazing land, farming land, private development land, and government land.
The foundation of the Foreign Policy of this nation is to secure recognition for our country. To that end the foreign policy of my administration is to vigorously pursue a policy of engagement with the international community particularly governments in Africa, Arab world, IGAD, Europe, UN, and the US.
Additional guiding principles are: to increase our security and maintain our stability by working closely with the governments in the region. It is also necessary to grow our economy and increase the business opportunities by inviting foreign investors to develop the natural resources in our country.
Our 2013 budget reflects my administration’s priority, namely the development programs, security, defense of the nation, judicial system, Healthcare, Education, and foreign policy. There is a lack of economic progress that is more evident comparatively in the regions of Sool, Buuhodle and eastern Sanaag, we plan to implement 38 developmental projects to stimulate the local economy in those regions. We have allocated a stimulus plan of $1,300,000.00 for these regions. The funds will be allocated as follows: Sool Region ($500,000 to fund15 projects), Eastern Sanaag ($500, 00 to fund15 projects), Buuhodle Region ($300,000 to fund 10 projects).
Voter Registration and Elections
We have the parliamentary elections coming in 2013, we have the Guurti elections the following year in 2014 and there will be presidential elections in 2015.Furthermore we must do a complete voter registration before we can hold another election given the experience of the 2012 election.
It is exceedingly difficult to hold three elections and conduct a voter registration within two years in the country. This will put tremendous pressure on every branch of our government, not to mention the financial burdens involved.
I’ll appoint a National Commission, which will consult with the nation and make the appropriate recommendations to address the issue.
We have budgeted $1 million dollars to conduct the voter registration in 2013.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; As many of you know I have always been opposed to extending the constitutional term of the President and the Vice President when their term in office ends. I want you to know that I still feel the same about this issue .I give you my word that I will not extend the term of my office by one-day beyond my constitutional term.
Developing Natural Resources
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; We have very high unemployment, poverty, and an underperforming economy. One of the ways we can address these challenges is to grow our economy by developing the natural resources of the country. This will help us with the unemployment problem and create jobs, and more importantly this will contribute to the long term security of this nation.
We have renegotiated parts of all the oil and gas contracts that the previous government has entered into with International investors. The new contracts include clauses that require these projects to create a number of jobs and to have a specified time for ground breaking. The changes in these contracts made it possible that after 21 years; the oil companies must perform surveys for oil and gas in the country with the agreed budget of $57 million dollars within the next two years.
We have also entered into agreement with two additional companies that will perform survey work and will build mines in the country to extract Iron, Magnesium, and Coal. The extraction of Coal in Somaliland will provide cheaper source of fuel for electricity. These projects will also stimulate the economy and create jobs for our people.
My government will submit an Energy Legislation to this honorable Chamber. This will be the first of its kind in the country. We have a policy to encourage and implement some renewable energy projects this year. We are implementing 5 wind energy facilities in Hargeysa Airport to meet the electricity needs of the airport and we are also establishing 4 additional wind energy facilities in Las Anod. These projects will create jobs for our people.
Central Government Act
To improve good governance and separate the roles of different departments of the government; as article 126 and 127 of the Somaliland Constitution permits, I’ll submit legislation to this Chamber that will designate the responsibilities and duties of the different branches of the Central Government.
I would like to propose a revision to our Constitution to better serve the people and our nation, and to that end I will submit an official request referencing article 126 and 127 of the Somaliland Constitution
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members;In order to expand its capabilities and experience I propose the following:
- In order to accommodate the representation of minorities; members of the Guurti should be selected and not elected.
- 40% of the membership should be represented by Traditional elders and Religious leaders
- 30% of the membership should be representing intellectuals with college degrees and with at least 30 years of work experience.
- All former presidents and Vice presidents, former Speakers of the house, former Chairmen of the Upper House and former Supreme Court Justices should become full fledge members of the Upper House instead of just the honorary membership they now enjoy.
Mr. Chairman and Honorable members; I promise you that my government will continue to respect the independence of the Judicial System, the Constitutional duties of the two Houses, Human Rights, and freedom of the press.
The role women and the youth play in contributing to the growth of this country are essential and their participation in all aspects of our country’s development should be encouraged and increased. As a sign of our commitment to this goal we have introduced a bill last year that lowered the age of a candidate to run for office to 25 years old, and because you agreed with me, today it is the law of the land.
In an effort to reflect all members of our society in the political arena I have also introduced a bill that would reserve seats (quota) for women and minorities. This bill did not pass this honorable Chamber; I respectfully request that you reconsider this bill before the next Parliamentary elections and pass this bill so that all segments of our society can be represented in the highest elected offices of this nation.
You are all aware of the long path we took to get here. Without much support from anyone, the people of Somaliland rebuilt their cities, their communities, their institutions and forged a nation out of their sweat, tears and blood and they understand that their future is in their hands and not in someone else’s. The people of this nation are willing to protect their freedom at any cost. That is our promise to each other.
We have come a long way since we declared our independence and established a republic many envy today, and I am certain our best days are ahead of us and the future of our children to live in prosperity is brighter and we will achieve our aspiration to be a recognized sovereign and respected member nation of the world.
The will of the people demanded the creation of Somaliland and they passed a Constitution which declared the independence of Somaliland, therefore our independence is not negotiable. We urge all peace loving people and nations to respect the wishes of our people and support Somaliland’s steady march toward democracy and prosperity.
I urge Somaliland leaders to refrain from actions that will hinder or damage the ongoing talks with Somalia and the principal agreements reached at the London meeting. Fostering friendship and collaboration on issues of mutual interest with our neighbor as two distinct and different nations’ is in our best interest, and does not diminish or damage our self-determination or sovereignty.
Finally, I ask the remarkable people of Somaliland to continue holding hands and stand together to safeguard our precious peace, stability, and all that we have accomplished over the years. I once again promise you that I will re-double my efforts to advance our nation and reach our collective goals.
I want to single out to congratulate the Committee for Development of Togdheer region, Prof. Saleban Ahmed Guled, and Representative Ahmed Mohamed Diriye (aka Nacnac) for their contributions to this nation.
Long Live Somaliland and God Bless Somaliland.
H.E.Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo
President of the Republic of Somaliland
President of the Republic of Somaliland