Dear Mr. Hayward:
We, the undersigned, are members of the Yonis Abdirahman clan, the overwhelming inhabitants of Saraar region in Somaliland, where Genel Energy has embarked on oil exploration.
As you know, Somaliland seceded from Somalia and declared its independence in May 1991 after the fall of the government of the late dictator, Mohammed Siad Barre. Since the declaration of its independence, successive democratically elected governments, traditional elders, religious leaders, intellectuals and ordinary citizens have worked together to achieve peace and stability in Somaliland. This impressive achievement has eluded Somalia despite enormous economic, political, military, and diplomatic support by the international community for more than 20 years.
Now, Genel Energy risks the stability of our region through poorly planned exploration activities. Genel Energy and a few short-sighted ministers in the Silanyo government have put this well-earned, cherished peace in jeopardy.
We in the diaspora, and the inhabitants in Saraar, who make a living from livestock, are not against oil exploration in the country. We recognize that the people of Somaliland are in dire need of economic development. We welcome oil companies to invest in the country to create jobs, to build infrastructure, to provide social services, which the people desperately need.
We will not, however, support any company that does not take into account the needs and interests of the indigenous people in the designated areas for oil exploration. We oppose those who do not consult our chosen traditional elders, intellectuals, religious leaders, and members of Parliament of the Saraar region.
In March of 2013, our people, led by a selected committee of 21 elders, vehemently protested and stopped the initial stages of the exploration by Genel Energy and the Silanyo government. Both parties failed to properly consult the inhabitants of the region.
In April of 2013, the committee met in Ainabo, Somaliland with two high-ranking Genel Energy executives, including the country manager, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Hassan. After a lengthy and friendly discussion, they presented a list of goals representing the reasonable needs of their people to the executives. The elders reiterated that a collaborative effort was necessary, and that Genel Energy should consult with them prior to resuming any oil exploration. The Genel Energy executives warmly accepted the list and promised to seriously consider it and to respond in due time.
Although the elders never heard from Genel Energy, operations were suspended for the next three months.
In June 2013, the elders met with President Ahmed Mohammed Mohamoud (Silanyo). The President graciously listened to their complaints, and acknowledged that the people of Saraar were not properly consulted by Genel Energy and his government. The President asked them to select five members to negotiate with Genel Energy and Mr. Hussein Abdi Dualeh, the Minister of Energy and Minerals. The President further assured the elders that no work of any kind would be done during the negotiations.
In July 2013, the selected five members along with Mr. Mohammed Ahmed Jama Sahar, a native of Saraar, who holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering, met with the Minister of Energy and Minerals and Genel Energy. Unfortunately, negotiations failed because both the Minister and the Genel Energy manager refused to make any substantive concessions. Meanwhile, Genel Energy blatantly violated President Silanyo’s order of suspending all operations during the negotiations.
The inhabitants will not agree to the resumption of oil exploration unless they are properly consulted. The following list of reasonable demands was presented to Genel Energy and the Silanyo government:
1. A thorough environmental study must be undertaken;2. Sufficient funds must be set aside for the people whose lives will be severely impacted by the oil exploration;3. Security of the Saraar area should be the responsibility of the local people;
4. The 25% ownership of interest, which was wrongly awarded to the East African Group, an unknown entity registered in the Isle of Man, must be reversed and instead granted to the Saraar inhabitants;
5. All agreements between the Silanyo government and Genel Energy must be released to the Parliament and the House of Elders for debate and approval.
We hereby appeal to you and the Board of Directors of Genel Energy to seriously consider these important matters. We would earnestly welcome a win-win outcome for all: Genel Energy and its stockholders, the government, the Saraar people and all the citizens of Somaliland.We trust that Genel Energy will make serious efforts to achieve cooperation and success in the Saraar region and elsewhere in the country.Very truly yours,