Despite vehemently denying that the International Community has cut all budgetary support to Somalia’s Federal Government following its failure to hold elections and the approval of an illegal mandate extension for President Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo whose term has ended on February 8th, the Minister of Finance Dr. Abdirahman Beileh admitted in an interview with Mr. Abdi Hersi, an Imam in Calgary Canada that the International Community has not funded its operation since last year and all other funding sources including from Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been exhausted and is at the moment unable to pay salaries.
In the unveiling of a special account set up by the Minister of Finance Dr. Beileh in Salaam Bank, the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Mahdi Guleid stated if one million Somali diaspora members donate an average of 20 a month, it would bring in 20 million US dollars a month and 240 million annually, enough to fund all government operations. Instructions to would-be contributors state the funds can be sent from any Hawala overseas to the designated account number.
The International Community including the African Union have unanimously and strongly condemned the term extension for Farmajo and have threatened serious actions against those involved including the use of individual sanctions. In addition, the Commander of US Africa General Stephen J. Townsend stated that the term extension poses a greater challenge than Al-Shabaab in front of the House Armed Services Committee on April 20th.
Although Mr. Abdi Hersy has no official role in the term-ended Federal Government of Somalia and lives in Calgary Canada where he is fighting the Canadian government to keep his refugee protection status, he maintains an unusually high level of access to President Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo and his inner circle and he has held an impromptu zoom session with the Minister of Finance Dr. Beileh on the dire straits of the government’s financial situation.
Subsequently, Mr. Hersy in a video conference with the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Mahdi Guleid, and the Minister of Finance Dr. Abdirahman Beileh to unveil a new account where the diaspora can effectively crowdfund the functioning of the federal government and effectively keep Farmajo in office.
Mr. Hersy is a fixture on social media where he frequently comments on issues in Somalia, is a fervent supporter of President Farmajo, and despite living in the west has lambasted the international community for its opposition to the term extension. Mr. Hersy is fond of the word neocolonialism and has long called for the ouster of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative Mr. James Swan and even suggested that Somalia is considering replacing the west with Russia and China.
Despite his relatively young social media persona as an ultranationalist cleric who frequently defends the Somali Federal Government under President Farmajo, Mr. Hersy has been in a precarious legal limbo in Calgary Canada where he has been fighting extradition to the United States where is wanted for multiple sexual assaults he allegedly committed while working in Twin Cities hospital in Minnesota in 2006 where he lived and worked as a Respiratory Therapist before he fled to Calgary Canada where he falsely claimed refugee status and has been fighting extradition back to the US to face prosecution.
According to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice which revoked his license, Mr. Hersy has sexually assaulted female patients under his care under the guise of administering medical care. There are currently active warrants for his arrest and is fighting extradition back to the United States from Canada where he has been granted refugee status.
It is unclear if there is popular support for Farmajo to marshal enough financial resources to replace the budgetary support cut by the international community due to the extra-judicial term extension or if the funds will not fuel potential conflict in Somalia resulting from Mr. Farmajo’s failure to hold elections on time and refusal to leave office.
Since yesterday, Mogadishu has been the scene of heavy gunfire exchange between opposing units from the Somali National Army where some have dug in multiple neighborhoods around the city. And for the second time former President Mr. Hassan Sheikh said that his residence was attacked by Somali National Army units with direct orders from President Farmajo. Other opposition figures have made similar allegations yesterday.
Article 2 of the United Nations Resolution on International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism strictly prohibits any individual, financial institution, or government entity to provide financing that could fuel an armed conflict. It is unclear if Salaam Bank where the crowdfunding account is established, Mr. Abdi Hersey the Cleric in Calgary with major legal issues of his own, and Somalia’s Minister of Finance Dr. Abdirahman Beileh who is an American citizen are aware of the legality of crowdfunding to keep the government afloat.
Violation of this treaty and others in multiple jurisdictions including the United States Patriot Act which requires stringent due diligence, reporting, and record-keeping requirement designed to keep money out of conflict zones could bring legal liability extended to Hawalas such as World Remit, Dahabshiil, and Taaj should they allow transfer of funds from individuals overseas to the crowdfunding account in Salaam Bank according to multiple sources familiar with international banking and Anti-Money Laundering laws.
Government officials from Somaliland where Dahabshiil, WorldRemit, and Taaj remittances have operations did not return calls for comment on the legal implication of Somalia’s crowdfunding effort and the possibility that the funds could fuel further conflicts in Farmajo’s attempt to stay in power.
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