His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, Sunday, made a televised appeal to the nation asking citizens to abide by clinical as well as preventive guidelines and measures – national and international – put forth by doctors through the national preparedness committee for COVID-19.
President Bihi announced that his government has launched a COVID-19 combat account to which his administration has checked the first 3 million US Dollars.
“Although the pandemic would adversely affect the national economy in more ways than one, we have deducted what we could from government expenditure in the national budget to jumpstart the fund in the hope both national and international benefactors will contribute to it. We, especially, appeal to the business community some of who have already made their pledges known to us and the NPC,” he stated.
The President acknowledged that, the same as in developed countries, Somaliland cannot ask everybody to stay at home since the government cannot basic, family needs. He advised caution and self-discipline.
Speaking of government advisory statement on avoidance of congregational prayers at mosques to effect social distancing, the president reiterated the government stand.
“At a time pilgrimage to Mecca was stopped to prevent the massive spread of the deadly virus due to the nature of supplicant prayers which call for close proximity; at a time the Grand Mufti of the Haramain is asking all Muslims to pray at home during the Ramadhan Tarawih – and even the Eid if need be, it is only wise that we also pray at home and give a wide berth to places and events which call for large get-togethers,” he said.
Echoing debates and communicative exchanges of subscribers on social media platforms following clamorous opposition of religious clerics to this particular measure of the NPC, the President questioned the clerics’ strident calls for postponement.
“Should we stop going to mosques when tens, hundreds and thousands die and thousands more are felled by the virus?” he asked rhetorically.
The President called on both religious and academic scholars to take part in the awareness-raising activities reminding them that, as with everybody else, it was their civic duty to do so.
“Since all tertiary level and lower academic institutions are closed in order to prevent close contact of students and teachers with one another, we ask university and secondary schools students, particularly, to develop self-help schemes and to, for instance, tape part in activities to keep their neighbourhoods clean and informed,” he said.
President Bihi expressed gratitude to citizens, government personnel, medics, business people who have shown full compliance and solidarity in the face of the COVID-posed dangers.
President Bihi specifically mentioned Ismail Ahmed, Founder of the International Remittance company, WordRemit, for contributing supplies worth US Dollars two million.
“My gratitude goes to Ismail Ahmed of WorldRemit who has contributed a million-Dollar worth of medical supplies to the government and a million more on supplies he let on the market at source cost price. That is a great help and we are grateful to him and his company,” he said.
President Bihi disclosed that talks with mild narcotics leaves (Khat) importers were underway and promising. 90% of the imports come from Ethiopia at a cost of about 200 million US Dollars a year.
“In the past, governments attempted to stop the import on different occasions – once during the British Protectorate era and once during the military regime. All attempts failed. To force a stop does not work, That is a lesson we have learnt. Consensus is the answer, and we are confident that, together with the importers, we will come to an understanding that will eliminate the many hands and many contacts the leaves make with handling humans all along the way from the farm to the sales vendors’ windows,” the President said.