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Somalia’s president and deputy exchange blows? No, five-year-old video of Somaliland politicians

A video posted on Facebook on 16 August 2020 shows two men sitting at a podium who suddenly stand up and start punching each other. The scene soon becomes chaos as other men rush forward to join the fight.

“Good governance, Somali style,” the description reads. “The President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed exchange blows with deputy president, Mahdi Mohamed Guled at a press conference.” 

Does the video show the president of Somalia and his deputy fighting in public? We checked.

Somalia? Somaliland

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo is Somalia’s president. But Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid is in fact the country’s acting prime minister, not its deputy president. Farmaajo appointed him in July.

The men fighting in the video do not physically resemble Farmaajo or Gulaid. And in the background, the flag of Somaliland – not Somalia – can be clearly seen.

Somaliland is a self-declared independent state that lies within the borders of Somalia. The global community does not recognise its independence, but it is self-governing with its own government, democratic elections and history.

A banner on the front of the podium in the video reads: “SHIRGUDOONKA GOLAHA WAKIILADA”. Google Translate detects the language as Somali and translates the phrase as “the president of the house of representatives”.

We used the search term “shirgudoonka golaha wakiilada fight” on YouTube and found several videos posted in 2015. At the time, Farmaajo was not yet president of Somalia. He was elected in 2017, and Gulaid appointed this year.

Video from 2015

The earliest and longest version of the video was posted on 12 September 2015 with the title: “Daawo Dagaalkii Shirgudonka Golaha Wakiilada Somaliland”. Google Translate gives this as: “Watch the war on the speaker of the house of representatives of Somaliland.”

Another video posted the same day is captioned: “Dagaal Dhex Maray Shir-gudoonka Golaha Wakiilada Somaliland.” This translates as: “Fighting erupts between the speaker of the Somaliland house of representatives.”

Other videos in the search results identify one of the fighting men as Bashe Mohamed Farah, who is currently the speaker of Somaliland’s house of representatives. At the time, Farah was the first deputy parliamentary speaker.

A Google search for “speaker of the house of representatives of Somaliland 2015” returns the name “Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi” and a photo of a man who resembles the second man in the video. Abdullahi is a former house of representatives speaker.

The video does not show the president of Somalia and his deputy in a fistfight. The men are members of Somaliland’s parliament. – Dancan Bwire


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