Somaliland: Is there a rift growing between Hersi Ali Haji Hassan and Abdirahman Irro?

The two top leaders of Somaliland’s main opposition party, Waddani, appear to be in the middle of a political dispute as the party’s presidential candidate, Abdirahman Irro is currently campaigning in eastern Somaliland without his colleagues that hail from that part of the country.

Waddani’s top senior officials from eastern Somaliland, party leader Hersi Ali Haji Hassan and communications chief Mohamed ‘Munir’ Ahmed Egal, did not join Irro on his campaign trip to Sool and Sanaag this past week.

Many followers of the campaign are also puzzled as to why Ismail Adan Osman and Abib Diiriye Nuur – who both hail from western Somaliland – are stumping for Irro in eastern Somaliland, where Hassan’s clan is based.

Several media outlets in Somaliland have been reporting within the past week that Hassan and Irro are currently at odds over his role in the party. The National conducted an investigation into the story following the reports.

A few sources were reporting last week that Hassan stayed behind to deal with the current dispute in the House of the Representatives. A source familiar with the matter says that was an excuse, and that Hassan stayed behind due to lack of support from his home regions.

Over the past couple of months now, insider sources within the opposition party have been reporting that Abdirahman Irro and his inner circle have been doubting Hassan’s support from eastern Somaliland, and his ability to bring votes for from his clan in November.

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Mohamed Nur Araleh ‘Duur’, Dr. Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, Saeed Sulub and Ismail Mahmud Hurre ‘Buubaa’, who make up Irro’s inner circle, known locally as the ‘musdanbeed’, are reportedly pressuring Irro to take a tough stance against Hassan.

Hassan was named Waddani’s party leader in 2016 right after joining the party because of the powerful role he held in President Silanyo’s government. The position, which never existed in Somaliland politics, was created by Irro to please Hassan.

Since joining Waddani, Hassan’s support from his clan (Habar Jeclo) is said to be on the decline. All traditional elders hailing from the Habar Jeclo clan have publicly voiced their support for Somaliland’s ruling political party, Kulmiye.

Hassan has had a rocky relationship with Irro’s inner circle since he joined the party. Hassan is reportedly said to be even more furious with Irro’s decision to give in to the pressure of his advisors and evaluate Hassan’s political base in eastern Somaliland.

Did Hassan skip the campaign trip to avoid showing the decline of his political support? Kulmiye’s current campaign in eastern Somaliland seems to have answered that question.

Kulmiye’s Presidential Candidate, Musa Bihi Abdi, has put on a remarkable display in Hassan’s home turf within the past week, drawing hundreds to thousands of crowds in many cities, towns and villages in eastern Somaliland.

With less than three months to go to the 2017 presidential election, the question on everyone’s minds now is: will Hassan be able to avoid another test of his support again? Or will Irro replace Hassan with another heavyweight politician from eastern Somaliland to attract more votes?