Issue 101 Jan.4, 2003
Mr. Peter Schuckink Kool is a party activist of the Swedish Folk-partiet, better known as the liberal party. He arrived in Somaliland last week, on his fifth visit to the country.
Mr. Kool joined the liberal party in 1976. He worked extensively with immigrant groups in Sweden for over 15 years.
Earlier this week, Mr. Kool was interviewed by the Somaliland Times. He spoke on a number of issues. Below are excerpts from the interview:
On Parliamentary Elections
The main thing is that we shouldn’t lose momentum of Somaliland’s democratic process. The Parliamentary elections should not be postponed any longer than absolutely necessary. I understand that it might not have been feasible to hold the elections last July. Because back then, the law for parliamentary elections was not yet ready, and allocation of seats per constituency wasn’t still decided. Also, with the country being poor, it would have taken some time to organize the elections. However, the elections of last December and April were very much appreciated by all the international observers. There were of course some flaws, but they could be improved next time. I still hope the [Parliamentary] elections will be held next year. Possibly by next autumn. For world opinion, it is very important that you take this third step (elections) towards democracy. Otherwise there might be suspicion that those in government are trying to cling to power.
On the draft press law
Another point that will have counter-productive consequences for Somaliland would be the introduction of a press law for restricting freedom of the press. From experience we have known that once you touch the freedom of the press there would be an immediate reaction. An open press where you can discuss anything – as long as one doesn’t violate freedom of individuals – is considered an important cornerstone of democracy. Naturally the press must have a code of conduct. But this should be decided by themselves. And if still an individual is harassed by the press, then there should be a possibility for that individual to claim for damages through court of law. It is the duty of the press to report on public officials and I really hope any talk of the press law stops now. This is very important for the international community.
On the Judiciary
I also understand that Somaliland is trying to improve its Judiciary with the cooperation of the UNDP. I believe that such an improvement will also make it possible to bring those arrested in connection with the murders that took place in Borame and Sheikh to court for a fair trial.
Women Participation in Parliamentary Elections
The third point I want to emphasize is that women should be represented in parliament. They must have real influence in politics. My party, the Swedish Liberal party has decided to assist the 3 political parties in Somaliland to send women into Parliament.
On the recognition of Somaliland
As you might recall, I brought here in last April a Swedish lady, Birgitta Ohlsson, who is a member of the Swedish Parliament. On Monday 15, 2003 she asked the Swedish Foreign minister about Somaliland’s recognition. I don’t have the details of the outcome because this was taking place as I was on my way to Somaliland. However it was my intention to raise Somaliland’s case up to that level. And I’m happy that I succeeded with the help of MP Ohlsson.