Welcome to part 1 of excerpts taken from a verbatim transcription of President Said Abdullahi Deni's enlightening speech on Sunday evening, 21st February 2021, in which he warned about the real threat of Farmaaja-installed new dictatorship in Somalia. The speech was delivered at the Puntland Development and Research Centre (PDRC) in Garowe where pundits, government officials, and members of civil society had gathered to hear Mr. Deni speak. It was also broadcast live on TV and on the internet. This was a momentous speech for our times, and the transcript is a must-read for anyone concerned about the dictatorial thinking and practice by Mr. Farmaajo and his supporters. It also provides a compelling case for a collective Somali effort to resist against the gathering clouds of a new tyrannical regime in a country devastated by conflict and violence for more than three decades.
In the words of President Deni:
"... we don't tell our people things that are awful or abominable [Somali = belo], but we couldn't hide this anymore. Because if we do not warn people now and this country plunges into civil war and [renewed] fratricidal clan conflict, violence and savagery, and [renewed] militarism, we will be criminals. The international partners that are now demanding that we respect the 17 September Agreement [must know that] something else has now happened, and that is 19 February.
The night we [Deni himself and Mr. Farmaajo] spoke [on the phone], he talked about Indhacadde.1 Let's tell the truth. I don't know what made Indhacadde say what he said! We also remember the other time when he [Indhacadde] said 'we are going to pray in Addis Ababa'. Again, the other day [18 Feb. 2021], Indhacadde said something. And something has happened as a result, on both occasions. I don't know who Indhacadde is working for.
... I said to him [to Farmaajo] that I understand the point of what this man [Indhacadde] said in the Statute of the Unknown Soldiers [Taalada Daljirka Dahsoon]; we don't know who made him say what he said! But if the [Council of Presidential Union] leaders were to say or declare that there was no government [that would've been something], but they didn't say that. The leaders were speaking openly in the vicinity of the Statute of the Unknown Soldiers the day before and they were saying that they wanted a peaceful demonstration. So if you acted earlier on the basis of what this man [Indhacadde] said, I asked to him, how do you explain the heavy weaponry and live bullets that were fired at the Prime Minister who has worked with you for three and a half years and who was simply waving the Somali flag and the demonstrators with him in the following day? Hi answer was: "whoever flouts the law will be punished".
The President that we have in Villa Somalia ... you will tell us what bravery or brave [Geesi] means for our country at the present time. A brave person is the one who speaks the truth to people and who prevents people from committing terrible atrocities. Brave is not the man who dares to do things, the outcome of which he wouldn't be able to tell. To tell you the truth, I am fearful that what is now happening in Mogadishu will take our country back into a renewed civil war and a renewed mass flight of refugees and displaced people.
... I appeal to the people of Mogadishu and their leaders that they avoid being dragged into war, as far as it depends on them. [If we recall] the Somali saying: "You axe would not have been able to cut me unless part of me is in you" is apt here because people from your region are giving succour and strength to the President's philosophy; and are of the same view of imposing despotism on the country as himself. Do not divide the people by clan means. On occasions, I see people showing too much [clan] emotion.
We have put in a lot of effort to avoid conflict and to encourage a mechanism whereby an agreement is reached to move forward. You understand that we have endured threats and risks along the way. Sometimes, and the men with me can testify to the details; we should not be hiding anything anymore; the alarm and worrisome that was caused in us by the places in the country we visited. In Mogadishu, the fear was that we will be poisoned; that we will be killed. We're told not to eat the food or we'll be poisoned. It has become the terror of the country. [Which way to go?] Fear from al-Shabaab or fear from Villa Somalia? I'm telling you the truth, there's no difference between the methods being used here and the ones being used by al-Shabaab.
We're being threatened every day. We, the Somali people, have all been silenced and are not able to speak up. The man [Mr. Farmaajo] who would have no respect to the President, that is Sheikh Sharif, who first appointed him as Prime Minister and hence gave him the opportunity to become a leader in Somalia; who would have no respect to his immediate predecessor, President Hassan Sh, Mahamud, who peacefully handed power over to him; He [Mr. Farmaajo], a while ago, also [illegally] prevented these former Presidents to fly to Kismaayo and also to Beledweyne and, today, launched an armed assault on a hotel where they were staying.
... Also the way he dealt with the Prime Minister [Mr. Hassan A. Khaire] who worked for him. In the past, I often asked myself, why wouldn't Prime Minister Khaire speak up? Why doesn't he tell us what he knows? I now understand that the Prime Minister knew what [how dangerous] these men were [Mr. Farmaajo and his close associates]? I used to say why doesn't he [Mr. Khaire] clarify his position? When Mr. Khaire came here, people were asking 'why doesn't he say something?', I said to them, 'just leave him alone. There must be something that stops him from talking, because if there're villains you're concerned about, you feel harm may come your way from such cruel characters. And that's a threat that you'll take seriously.'
Truly, we cannot keep silent from what is happening in Somalia. The country is in a headlong rush to a tragic direction. I appeal to the Somali people that, united and not dividing ourselves along clan lines, we confront the [dawning] dictatorship. That, united and not dividing ourselves along clan lines, we obey the laws of our country. That, united and not dividing ourselves along clan lines, we hold a genuine [credible and transparent] election.
[We do not want] an army that belongs to a man. Mr. Farmaajo talked about 'his army'! in his latest attempt, in the name of Allah, I'm not lying. He said, let's all come to Garowe. We said to him, 'no, you're coming to Garowe'. [Why? Because] we feared for our lives. He then said, come to Dhuusamareeb. I said to him, we just came back from Dhuusamareeb. There was shooting going on there. He then said, 'no, I know that nothing will happen'. I don't know what he knows! Literally, it means that he knows those who shoot at us. I don't want to hide anything from you today.
There's the international partners who would always say 'the FMSs and the FGS will have to come together'. It is up to them whatever reports they send to their countries, but I'm telling you that I will not represent Puntland on the basis of something that you've never consented to."
Stay tuned for my analysis of Part 1, to be published next.
1. General Indhacadde is retired commander of the civil war, and a former Minister of State of the TFG. On the evening of 18 Feb. 2021, he has taken over control of the Monument to Unknown Soldiers. When asked who ordered him to deploy, he said it was his sense of responsibility because there was no government in the country. See 'Somalia is headed towards another tragic collapse,' by Michael Rubin @ Somalia Is Headed Towards Another Tragic Collapse - 19FortyFive. The remark about 'praying in Addis Ababa' is an old story from the ICU [Independent Islamic Courts Union] era, and will be briefly touched on in my next article.