The El Afwayn conflict exposes President Bihi’s poor leadership

In the last few years we have witnessed perpetual conflict between two major tribes in the El Afwayn, Sanaag region of Somaliland. The conflict particularly intensified in the last couple of months where there has been serious bloodshed in both sides. El Afwayn is a district in the Sanaag region of East Somaliland which borders with Puntland.
During the previous Somaliland administration, the government succeeded in reaching a peace deal  between the two tribes at war in the region. The details of the peace deal included the two tribes having fair access to land, water and pasture areas with an emphasis that no tribe can claim the region over the other. The deal also stipulated that no new settlements could be created for each tribes own use. As such, the people of these tribes are to live side by side in peace in the established villages, towns, and cities in the region. Additionally, each tribe are to pay blood money to the other side and any injured people are to receive compensation. These agreement were widely successful and had the backing of the two major tribes in the region. Part of the agreement also entailed a bond between the two tribes that if it is broken there would be heavy fine for the tribe that initiates any war or fighting.
Nonetheless, the peace deal agreement was yet broken again after the fighting resumed between the two tribes in March 2018. The new Somaliland administration set out to reach another peace agreement between the two tribes however the governments involvement has turned the fighting into a new direction. In a short period of time, while Muse Bihi has been a president in Somaliland, the fighting  in El Afwayn has reoccurred at least two times. It is widely believed that the reason for the reoccurring of the fighting in El Afwayn is that the Somaliland government fails to prioritise the issues in the region. Moreover, some have argued that President Bihi is using the fighting in El Afwayn as a political gain in order to divert the public attention from the division that his election brought upon the country. Fuel was added to the fire after President Bihi’s administration failed to equally allocate governmental positions( i.e.  region governor, deputy governor, mayor and deputy mayor) between the two major tribes in Sanaag.  Since the last fighting there has also been a major incident where an army officer defected from the national army to form his own gorilla army in the Sanaag region. President Bihi’s government have made little effort to capture this officer who is a security threat to the region. In fact, it is public knowledge that the defected officer is further being supported by the mayor and deputy police commissioner of the region. The political climate in the region has been further made worse by tribal leaders seeking military support from neighbouring Puntland. As a result, the lack of government role in the issues of Sanaag could spiral out of control and lead to the region turning into a war-zone.
by : Ahmed A B Ibraahim
LLM International Law, BA Business  Administration


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