President Silanyo’ leadership and negotiation style is not to tell people what to do but to form a consensus and not to enter an impregnable arguments and negotiations too early without proper ammunition. This act of consensus is conspicuous at a great distance in the way he handled the Somalia and Somaliland Talks in Istanbul last week. It is again conspicuous in the way he consults with the two Houses of Somaliland, the political parties and the civil society before embarking on any major agenda that can have a lasting effect on Somaliland both politically and socio-economically.
Silanyo symbolizes the struggle of our people for Somaliland and his ability to steer the nation through the crisis of Somaliland’s rebirth will earn him the African reputation of benevolent negotiator and quintessential peacemaker. If the Talks with Somalia eventually yield the recognition that Somaliland was yearning for more than two decades; Silanyo will be part of a few African statesmen who have achieved almost universal respect around the world and across the African political spectrum.
In the latest Istanbul Talks, Silanyo expressed no bitterness towards Somaliland tormentors. Instead, he championed reconciliation whilst espousing the principles of two nations living side-by-side and in amicable neighbourly relations. Silanyo is one of the few leaders in Somaliland who are capable of inspiring confidence both inside and outside the country. Few others would manage to unite the disparate Somaliland parties and stand-alone politicians and steer Somaliland from what seems to be the brink of political unrest in the wake of these negotiations. He believes that Somaliland’s ultimate goal can be reached through cooperation and inclusive effort from people from all political persuasions.
There are many significant milestones of his presidency which so far are a great exemplary. As Somaliland’s second democratically elected President in 2010, Silanyo tackled the challenge of the Somaliland’s new strategy of engagement and cooperation with Somalia and he bravely allowed the creation of new political parties in Somaliland. Furthermore, besides campaigning globally for Somaliland, Silanyo focuses his still prodigious energies increasingly on politically empowering the youth, women and minorities in Somaliland.
Silanyo is equally known for taking a strong stand against the giant world powers like Britain- especially in defence of Somaliland. As president, he is unrestrained in embracing the decision he took about the coming Somali Conference in London. He politely and diplomatically declined to attend the conference in spite of the gentle persuasion from the British Prime Minster – David Cameron.
For Silanyo, refusing to attend the coming Somali Conference in London is about tactics, not principles. Throughout his life, he has always made that distinction. His unwavering principle — the overthrow of late Siyad Bare and the achievement of one man, one vote in Somaliland – was immutable, but almost anything that helped him to get to that goal he regarded as a tactic. He is the most pragmatic of idealists in Somaliland.
When he initiated his negotiations with Somalia in February and June 2012, there were many in Somaliland who thought he had lost it. And still there are some elements in Somaliland that beat the drums for non-engagement policy with Somalia. They believe that the president started an unbelievable initiative with a massive risk. But Silanyo’s campaign to persuade these elements and scores of stand-alone politicians that this is the correct course is still on. His reputation is on the line, as they believe.
However, he often explains what he is doing in relation to Somalia/Somaliland Talks slowly and deliberately, so he can bring those skeptics along. President Silanyo wants to take his support base along with him. Because he’s not a bubble-gum leader — chew it now and throw it away later kind of president. He has posterity in mind and the ability to take the long view. And when it comes to Somaliland’s sovereignty, there is no other view possible for him but independence. He thinks in terms of not days and weeks but decades. He knows that history is on his side and that the result that Somaliland wants from these negotiations is inevitable; it is just a question of how soon and how it would be achieved. Silanyo always plays for the long run.
Since when our late president, Mohamed H. Ibrahim Egal PBUH delivered his historical speech on Somaliland’s case at the Somali Conference in Addis-Ababa in 1993 I was always believed that Somaliland has also another great negotiator and a great orator who is so patiently waiting for his time to lead this fledgling young nation one day. He is now leading it.
Ahmed Ali Aden