The Weekly Discussion programme of VOA Somali Service broadcast on 17th of January 2020 devoted 35 minutes to a debate on the federal electoral law passed in December 2019 and barriers facing the plan to hold one person, one vote elections in Somalia in 2021.
Allegations leveled at Puntland State by Fowsi Abdi Nuur of South West State Intellectuals Council marred the programme. ” People of South West State in Puntland are regarded as refugees and have no voting rights” Fowsi said. Harun Maruf, the presenter and producer of the programme, did not challenge Fowsi on his use of the word qaxooti (refugees) to characterise the rights of Somali citizens from South West State now living in Puntland State.
The South West community in Puntland State do not even fall under the category of Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) due to their role in boosting Puntland economy by starting businesses and playing a remarkable role in rebuilding the state in addition to belonging to a separate federal member state clanwise.
One year ago the South West State community in Puntland opened a Liaison Office in Garowe ” to become a hub for people” from regions that make up South West State.
What was left out in the discussion is the plight of Somalis collectively known as Others of which Banadiri confederation of clans is a member. Banadiri clans in Barawe and Marka – two major districts in South West State – have no political representation in South West State.
The ‘Others’ label means that the Banadiri clans in Lower Shabelle are politically marginalised. Fowsi would like listeners to believe that political rights of people from the South West State – Digil and Mirifle, according to him – get violated in Puntland and Galmudug despite the South West State being entirely responsible for depriving Banadiri people of their political rights in districts Banadiris’ ancestors established many centuries ago as a part of the long urban history of Somalia.
The silence over the the subjugation of Somali Banadiri people and associated clans remains a blot on the conscience of Somali clans who regard themselves as being politically and militarily powerful.
Harun Maruf is a seasoned journalist who cannot be criticised for incompetence over putting the political marginalisation of Banadiri people in the back burner when presenting the Weekly Discussion programme. The only plausible explanation is that he allowed the Weekly Discussion programme to be come a public relations exercise for some people with a political axe to grind.
© Puntland Post Monthly, 2020