In the memory of Ali Gulaid
By Ahmed Arwo


"Truly God commands you to give back trusts to those to whom they are due, and when you judge between people, to judge with justice.... " (Quran, 4:58)

On 6th August 2009, we were shocked with the sudden death of a great leader, a hero  w ho stood for justice, a defender of human rights, and  fig hter for transparency and  accou ntability. I would like to honour a man  wh o doesn’t know the meaning of fear, a man who doesn’t know the meaning of defeat, quit or surrender. I share with you a short note on the life of this hero, a drop of this giant’s life history.

To a friend Ali was a shoulder to cry on, to a foe he was a bullet ready to escape from a  g un, to the poor he was a hand to feed, to the media he was tireless advocate, to  oppress ed he was an army to count on., to the youth he was a role model.....a man educated to the peak, employed  co mfortably who gave up the leisure and easy life of California for the dry, dusty, and moreover disorderly, where rule of law is yet to be  establis hed. He did  th at for he wanted to have his mark on the development of his beloved motherland. He  belie ved rightly he can contribute more not only to his countrymen, but to the whole humanity in taking part of  Som aliland nation building. A country totally destroyed in every aspect, econo mically, socially and legally, a nation below any conceivable measurement of human livelihood. The need was immense, and any contribution to its betterment was magnified beyond imagination. That touched his kind  he art and his decent soul.

Ali took a lion’s share in planting the seed of democracy in Somaliland. He continued to  cul tivate, feed and nurture that seed to grow. That process is perpetual and needs  dedicat ion, determination and conviction. Alas that trait is rare in our countrymen, but it was abundant in Ali. He started the struggle to emancipate his people in early 1980’s when he visited home after long period abroad. On his return he had an interview with Abdillahi Haji of the BBC and he was the first who bluntly used the slanderous name of Siyad Barre in a public radio and more than once, despite a sharp opposition of Abdillahi...” He concluded if Af-weyne is not removed, there will be no Somalia”. How true he was.

He was a man of principle, a visionary with talented leadership. Though never bending his longterm strategy, he was pragmatic, open to  recon ciliation that is needed in today’s  po litics. Ali believed that regular  elect ions alone are not sufficient to create a democratic  go vernment. Other conditions must also be present: a free press, and a minimum degree of respect for political adversaries, the national institutions and the laws. Access to  inde pendent information is essential to the health of  democr acy. It ensures that citizens  ma ke responsible, informed choices.  Inform ation also serves a checking function by ensuring that elected  Represe ntatives are accountable to the electorates, carrying out their wishes, instead of serving their personal desires.

As a professional auditor, Ali left a legacy of holding government to  acco unt. His annual analysis of national budget is the only document the public has an access to know how  th eir hard earned tax shillings are spent. No other document is in public domain. Our  govern ment has no sense of  gove rnance to publicise national budget even in short summary, neither the Parliament did better. That role is gallantly undertaken by Ali Gulaid. I had the chance to collate this national treasure in my blog page, for public scrutiny now and in  pe rpetuity. Under the label of “Ali Gulaid” you can browse detailed budget analysis from 2002. It is an eternal legacy that will remain for public reference.

Lately I contacted Ali for his knowledgeable advice on an organisation; I thought is  drast ically needed for the development of the fragile  institu tions of our democracy. I  establi shed this organisation which is in its infancy with much of his contributions. “Somaliland  De mocracy Shield” a name that tells all. Ali with all his commitment to Kulmiye cause, emphas ised the need that this organisation be free of party politics and geared nothing less than building a nation where rule of the law is the king, where personal freedom and liberty is well guided, where every citizen has given his or her potential ...” I advise you that this organisation should be for justice and for human rights, regardless which party is  gover ning the nation” Ali emphasised.

With his work intact, with his vision in process, with his struggle on the horizon, Ali remains active among us, though physically absent. His ideas are discussed, debated and  implemen ted on daily basis between  genera tions and cross parties, and practically within Kulmiye Party that works on Ali’s agenda. I among many of his supporters am fully committed to realize his vision. Following his footsteps Insha Allah, we shall build a free society, where individuals have equal rights to reach their potential, where  gover nment is the servant of the people and not its master, a nation where peace is guarded with justice, where  transp arency, accountability and good governance is the guiding principles of all national  institu tions. That was Ali Gulaid’s dream, he paid the ultimate cost in seeking that noble  object ive; he gave his life for it. It is us, his fans young and old that can continue and with sure determination and conviction Insha Allah, we shall realize sooner than latter. Just hold yourself to account for the general good and get rid off selfish trash that blinds you from what is right and traps your soul with sugar coated ills that will lead you to social crime, corruption, bribery and lack of peace of mind. Worst of all, as a believer; remember if your evil deeds are not punished in this world, there is the day of judgement, when no one has the ability to hide the slightest of his deeds good or bad. Saving your self from sins of injustice will save your nation.

I am delighted to receive a number of calls from unconnected sources  th at want to  hono ur Ali by giving his name to a school. That initiative came this early is a witness how this nations values Ali Gulaid, may Allah bless his soul, and may Allah guide his children and  sup porters to follow him in pursuit of justice and social development for all.

At this moment let me refresh your remembrance with one of his  remark able articles, ap pealing for recognition of Somaliland as independent and sovereign state, published in April 2002:

Somaliland Recognition Is Overdue
By Ali Gulaid, San Jose, California

Despite the historical claim to sovereignty, a decade of stability and a  ref erendum of self-determination, Somaliland is perishing for lack of  recog nition. The international community has acknowledged the political  progr ess Somaliland has made but it has withheld the  cov eted recognition. Som aliland is a de jure State and the claim that the unity of former  Som alia (Somalia) is sacred is farcical. Somaliland was an independent  constitut ional state for five days (June 26, 1960 to June 30, 1960). She has  enjoy ed an international personality before she relinquished her sovereignty for the realization of greater Somalia. At that  ti me, Somaliland had  recei ved an informal recognition form the United States and concluded four treaties with Great Britain and Ireland.

The former Somali Republic was a union of two states (British Somaliland and Italian  Som alia) and contrary to the myth; Somaliland was never part of Somalia before the  illegitim ate union in 1960. The Ottoman Turks and the Egyptians colonized Somaliland before she became a British  Protecto rate in 1887, while Italy and others colonized Somalia. Moreover, the “Act of Union” was never signed and according to the Vienna convention on the law of treaties it fell short as a valid treaty recognizable under the international law. The people of Somaliland have genealogical lineage that they don’t share with the people of Somalia. The common language and religion have failed to overcome the clan loyalty and the culture imbued by the disparate colonial systems. The disparity in political power  shari ng exacerbated the irreconcilable differences.

As a result, Somaliland became disenchanted with the illegitimate “union” early on. On June 20, 1961, major parties in Somaliland boycotted the  rati fication of the unifying  constitut ion. On December 9, 1961 all of the  twen ty-two (22) military officers, Sandhurst  gradua tes, and the cream of  Som aliland, without a single defection staged a coup to secede from the Union. On October 1962, the only two Somaliland cabinet ministers resigned from the government - the current President being one of the two - and a few days later, all the Somaliland deputies walked out of the parliament.

But it was the ethnic cleansing exacted on the people of Somaliland that compelled them to re-claim their sovereignty: once bitten, twice shy.  Ac cording to Africa Watch, the Siyad Barre government killed more than  fif ty thousand people from Somaliland, destroyed the major cities, resulting in the flight of a million Somalilanders to Ethiopia. One U.N. expert  wh o  exc avated some of the mass graveyards said, “people were chained  toget her, women and children included…” Even though Siyad Barre died  uncere moniously in exile, his agents who committed most of these heinous acts are today cabinet members and  parliamentari ans of the self-styled  Trans itional National Government (TNG), more commonly known as Arta group. It would be insensitive and callous to expect from Somaliland to embrace  grea ter Somalia once again.

Today, Somaliland feels more akin to Ethiopia than Somalia. The treatment Ethiopia  extend ed to the half a million refugees who left their homes when the Somali government was bombarding its own people, poisoning the  wa ter wells and destroying the major cities of Somaliland have deeply touched the people of Somaliland. Furthermore, the cultural, histo rical and the commercial relationships that existed between Ethiopia and Somaliland have been renewed and are flourishing.

Somalia ceased to exist as a political entity when the Siyad government collapsed in  Janu ary 1991. Today, Somalia is a battleground between bandits, factions and Islamic  fundame ntalists, engaged in a tug of war to dethrone, destabilize and demolish each other in order to gain the upper hand. One of the determining attributes of statehood is maintaining law and order, and the Arta Group doesn’t control as much territory as Shatigadud or Yalaxaw does, and hence, has no more legitimacy than the rest of the factions. This hybrid of  Isla mic fundamentalists and the re-hash of Siyad cronies represent no constituency. Indeed many of the Arta group is accused of war crimes by the international community. Under these circumstances, who could sincerely fault Somaliland to re-establish her sovereignty?

Due to these atrocities, inequities and anarchy, Somaliland reclaimed her relinquished  sove reignty in May 18, 1991. Today, Somaliland has a defined territory (ex-British Somaliland), permanent population and an effective independent government. According to the U.N. charter, Somaliland has fulfilled the legal requirements of statehood. Furthermore, the re-birth of Somaliland conforms to the OAU charter regarding the preservation of the colonial borders. Unlike the nominal Arta group, Somaliland has substance: a constitution, currency, flag, National anthem, passport, a legislative body, functioning judiciary and an elected government.

Additionally, recognizing Somaliland has tangible benefits for the region. The fact that  Som aliland has reclaimed her sovereignty has diminished the prospects of resurrecting greater Somalia. It was just a month ago that Hussien Aideed has rekindled the aspirations of  Gre ater Somalia including “Kilil 5”. This is a commonly held sentiment among the warlords in Somalia. The Horn should take note that recognizing Somaliland is the only  insura nce  aga inst the re-launching of the irredentist policy of Somalia. Recognition of Somaliland by the international community will not  prejud ice the economic prosperity of Somalia. By all  acc ounts, Somaliland is  ter ritorially smaller, economically weaker, more devastated and less  fortun ate in natural resources than Somalia.

Granted that the cabinet positions are limited, the absence of Somaliland would make the distribution and the sharing of the political power fairer among the major clans in Somalia. Assigning political positions for an uninterested party-Somaliland- would only take away from a genuine and a deserving participant. More importantly, as a recognized state, Somalil and could play a greater role in the reconciliation process of Somalia. Why discriminate against Somaliland?

Ethiopia has met the brunt of the brutality carried out in the name of Greater Somalia. The 1963 and 1977/78 savage wars should serve as a reminder of what greater Somalia  enta ils, and if in doubt, Ethiopia should reflect upon the widely held sentiment expressed by Aideed. The menace of “Greater Somalia” didn’t spare Kenya either. The constant military attacks under the pretext of “shifta” have traumatized Kenya. The  const itution of  Ethio pia allows cessation on the basis of self-determination and thanks to the Ethiopian  Consti tution and leaders, Eritrea is an  indepen dent state today. Somalis have already  acknow ledged the withdrawal of Somaliland: the only legitimate leader from the former Somalia, Mr. Hasan Shatigodud, of the new administration of Southwestern Somalia has recognized the withdrawal of Somaliland. It is high time that Ethiopia and Kenya realized the facts on the ground.

The aspiration of greater Somalia is euphemism for expansionism and the sacredness of the unity of Somalia is a delusion. It is worth mentioning that Somalis aren’t the only ethnic group, dispersed over the Horn, which shares common language and religion. The Afar is another nation that is scattered over three different states (Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia). The unity of Somalia is no more sacred than that of the Afar Nation. The earlier the five-cornered star insignia of the Somali Republic banner is reconfigured, the safer the Horn will be.

In effect, the non-recognition has blocked access to bilateral and multi-lateral financial loans and grants for development. Due to this illegal  sanc tion, Somaliland is succumbing to infant mortality, malnutrition,  tuberc ulosis and other poverty related social-ills. This  inter national sanction is mobilized by the Arab League namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti. Egyptians would like an unified, militarily strong Somali Republic in the Horn of Africa, in case Ethiopia attempts to deflect or deny the Nile water to Egypt. Saudi Arabia has  design ated Somalia as a satellite for her Wahabi sect, and Djibouti eyes Berbera port and the longest airfield in sub-Sahara Africa as formidable competition and a threat to her only source of income - the port of Djibouti.

Before the end of this year, Somaliland will be holding statewide multi-party elections for a new government. This coming multi-party election would end ten years of by and large peaceful traditional elections, and would usher into an era of universally accepted elections. What makes this coming election a milestone is that Somaliland has achieved all of this by herself, without the help of the international community. Recently, Somaliland held a referendum for a constitution underpinned by the withdrawal from the union and the people of Somaliland have  over whelmingly voted (97%) to withdraw from the union: certified by Initiative and Referendum Institute in Washington, D.C, independent  internati onal poll monitors. Somaliland has fulfilled the requirements of statehood once again, and the international Community has an obligation to respect the historical rights and the self-determination of the people of Somaliland. This prolonged non-recognition will not change the mind of the people of Somaliland, but it will only cause more hardship.

Somaliland is aware that the 14th Somali reconciliation conference is going to be held late April, tentatively, in Nairobi. Somaliland doesn’t envy the attention her sister-Somalia has received from the international  commun ity and wishes her good luck. Somaliland, howe ver, has crossed the  Rub icon, and says Adieu to former Somalia

Ali was given a farewell of dignity, gathering of leaders, old and young, supporter and  adv ersaries. We pray Allah to bless his soul, forgive him and grand him the leisure of Janatul Fardows. Condolence to Ali’s large family headed by his mother, friends, colleagues,  Kulmi ye party and to Somaliland, particularly to Marodijeex region he hails from.

Before the concluding paragraph, I leave you with a poem translated by the master of English, Rhoda Aideed Rageh (Lafcanbe):


They have announced the death of Ali Marshal
About an overturned vehicle. Oh my sleeplessness
A shield and a protection was that departed hero
A close and valued alley who never would nudge


He was the leading anchor in public debates
He was a shady tree surrounded with nobility
An excellent orator in public forums. Guard and
Guiding knowledge for Silanyo's shoulder


He was a man of freedom however way I look
Darkness have descended Oh Herzi upon our goals
Death is inevitable yet am I feeling…… what?
For all the enemy of Somaliland is it an open field

Fault and evil perpetrators is all that left behind
Oh Allah make Jannah his abode as I wait for victory
And Make our country free for this is a place of prayer
Perseverance is the way to success Oh! My Kulmiiye


Ali did his part and more in nation building. It is incumbent upon all of us to stand for saving our nation. It takes one person to take one little move that may open the eyes of the  dor mant majority. Morality and conscience ask justice. That is missing from the current status of the nation. Stand up and deliver your duty to turn the balance where it should be, for better destiny of Somaliland. Injustice is a fire that will engulf all, no region, no district and no clan will be safe. Relinquish now before it is too late. That was what Ali was doing, when fate took him to his creator. Some of us prefer to die fighting for tyranny, injustice and oppression; for corruption and enslavement of free citizens. I pray Allah not to make me and anyone I love one of them. Amiin.

Long live a democratic Somaliland where government is the servant of the people.




Ahmed Hassan Arwo
Somaliland Democracy Shield