SOMALILAND: Waddani Continues to Defy Ban on Demonstrations, Government Rounds up Key Opposition, Media Figures
A police officer was shot and wounded, another brutally stoned by a mob supporting Waddani on a Monday protest rally the opposition party called for despite a ban the government ban on nationwide demonstrations which Chairman called.
A straggly mob mostly composed of unruly groups of young followers of one of Somaliland’s two opposition parties, Waddani, gathered at the party’s office in the New Hargeisa, Ga’an Libah district of the capital early in the morning today.
The police tried to prevent them from reaching the head office following orders from their command that the public, protest rallies were illegal since party leaders did not apply for and secure prior permissions from the country’s ministry of interior.
Skirmishes followed during which law enforcement officers fired live ammo on the air. The young charged up supporters responded with stones. A police officer sustained a gunshot on the leg and another was badly battered by stones landing on him.
The police accused one of the bodyguards of Chairman Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Irro’ on firing the shot which wounded the commissioner of the Eastern precinct of the capital police forces.
Chairman Irro, however, gave another halting version to his followers.
“They (police) killed -..ehem..wounded one of their own while firing at us,” he told his supporters in front of the head office.
“I call for more demonstrations tomorrow and the day after all over the regions,” he added.
The government, on its part, rounded up a number of the protesters, Monday. The police also detained the Party’s Secretary-General, Khadar Abdi, its Spokesperson – Barkhad Jama Battun – and the regional rep for Sahel region, Sheikh Suleiman, since last evening on the pretext that they continued inciting mobs to come out and defy the government ban.
Notably, though, not a great number of the party’s top leaders appeared at the office alongside the Chairman today.
Horn Cable TV, a satellite television station critical of the government, was shut down and its news editor, Abdulkadir Odey, along with a senior reporter, Hassan Galaydh, detained.
It is the first time a Somaliland government has arrested officers of an opposition party of this calibre or has clamped down on a political party and the independent media on the same speed and ferocity.
Prominent members of the public had been calling on both sides to deescalate tensions and downgrade bristling tempers.