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Somaliland journalists arrested over Ethiopia MoU debate; press freedom under threat


Sunday January 7, 2024

 

Hargeisa, (HOL) – The arrest of three journalists during a live debate on X (formerly Twitter) has raised international concerns about press freedom in Somaliland. The discussion, which centred on the contentious Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia, ended abruptly when security forces detained Mohammed Abdi Sheikh, Mohamed Abdi Abdillahi, and Ilyaas Abdinasir.

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The incident occurred at the headquarters of Maan Media TV, known as MM Somali TV. The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the raid, emphasizing the physical violence against journalists and staff and damage to equipment. Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ's Secretary General, criticized the Somaliland government's repressive actions, demanding an immediate release of the journalists. He argued for the necessity of public debate and accountability, particularly in light of the MoU's recent diplomatic and public backlash.

Somaliland's Minister of Information, Ali Hassan Mohamed, had previously warned journalists against discussing the MoU, a move perceived as stifling dissent. This recent incident is part of a broader trend of media oppression in Somaliland, with MM Somali TV and its staff, including Mohamed Ilig, repeatedly targeted.

In a related development, Abdiqani Mohamud Aateeye, a key minister in President Musa Bihi's government, resigned in protest of the MoU, citing concerns over Ethiopia's intentions. Aateeye, in a statement to Horyaal Television, warned, "Our sea is not that easy," emphasizing local resistance to any perceived encroachment on Somaliland's sovereignty.

The MoU has not only escalated tensions between Somaliland and Somalia but also drawn widespread criticism from the Somali diaspora. The Federal Government of Somalia has rejected the agreement, asserting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.






 





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