The New African Magazine [London]. May 1991. Koert Lindijer. “Somalia: Why SNM Spurns USC Overtures.”

While the clan fighting in the south continues, the Somali National Movement (SNM) has established a fragile peace in the north, the former British Somaliland. In late March the SNM fought battles with the small Gadobursi clan near the Ethiopian border and with the Issa clan near Djibouti. But the near dominance of the Isaaq clan, on which the SNM Is based, seems to unite the north.

The SNM is led by Abdirahman “Tour”. Vice-chairman is former journalist Omar Issa [Hassan Essa Jama]. In the coastal town of Berbera, I asked him why the SNM refuses to negotiate with the interim government.


Omar Issa: “The people in Mogadishu who claim to have set up a government, really have done a very stupid thing politically. They formed a so-called government without any mandate from any other group in Somalia. The SNM as the most senior and most considerable political party will launch our own initiative in the near future to bring the forces in the south together. We don’t recognize this setup in Mogadishu, we are going to form the government.”

Why SNM Spurns USC Overtures
Hassan Essa Jama, the first Vice-President of Somaliland

What is the SNM’s position concerning northern versus southern Somalia?

“The North became independent before the South in 1960. The northern politicians initiated the unity of the two parts of Somalia. Some of the southern politicians were saying at that time, we are quite reluctant about unity. They said they wanted the capital, the president, the prime minister, the defense minister. They set down conditions which they thought the northerners would not stomach. But the northerners understood what the game was and accepted all the conditions because Somali unity was the greatest objective our people had.

“We still believe in Somali unity, but this time we are going to lay down the conditions.”

You have been in the SNM since 1981 when it was formed. You have also been a journalist. Can you guarantee me that in the new Somalia, there will be full press freedom?

Omar Issa: “I can guarantee you one thing. Insha Allah, Somalia is not going to be another little tinpot dictatorship. SNM has established a record of democratic change within the organization. I promise you that this democratic system will last. And that any kind of change of this system will be over the dead bodies of people like me.”

Koert Lindijer,

Koert Lindijer is the Africa correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

Violation Of The North (Somaliland)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.