Somaliland president Muse Bihi under pressure to pardon detained journalist
HARGEISA, Somalia - Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi is under pressure to pardon a leading journalist, who is still in detention within Hargeisa, following his Facebook comments about Abaarso school and Barwaaqo university reportedly promoting Christianity in the breakaway region.
Abdilmalik Muse Oldon, was arrested a couple of weeks ago over the comments but since then, he's yet to be presented before the court for prosecution. This is contrary to laid down regulations on the handling of suspects, who are supposed to be presented in court.
Fadumo Roble Hussein, the mother of Oldon, who spoke to the media in Hargeisa on Wednesday, said she was missing her son after he has been taken from Mandera prison late last night.
Ahmed Khalif, a member of Somaliland's House of Representatives, said the commander of the Somaliland Correctional Forces told him that Oldon was brought to one of Hargeisa's hospitals on Wednesday morning for treatment for a foot injury and was sent back to Mandera Prison.
Sheikh Abdirizak Jiir, who is among the Somali clerics currently on religious tour in Somaliland, said he had personally appealed to President Muse Bihi Abdi to pardon Oldon who is still behind bars in connection with his comments towards Abaarso School.
Sheikh Jiir stated that the reason he appealed to President Muse Bihi Abdi is after the clerics have been accused of taking bribes from Somaliland authorities so as to stay mum on Oldon case. The clerics now want him released unconditionally.
In response to Sheikh Jiir's comments, Somaliland's Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Khalil noted that "President Muse Bihi Abdi vowed to protect the Islamic religion and take its interests to heart, and that Oldon case resides with the Supreme Court".
The Minister implies that the government and the clerics oppose anyone using the Islamic religion as a shield to incite confusion among the people. Somaliland does not absolutely tolerate Christianity and almost the entire population subscribe to Islam.
Although there is no freedom of worship as such, Muse Bihi Abdi is said to be keen not to ignite religious differences which could jeopardize the region's quest for international recognition. Somaliland declared self-independence in 1991 from Somalia.