As part of a celebration of its declaration of secession from Somalia two decades ago, the Somaliland president Wednesday night announced he had pardoned 751 prisoners.
Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo, the leader of the self-declared republic, made the announcement a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of independence from Somalia at the capital, Hargeisa.
“I would like inmates in the detention center of the country to share with us this festival and resume their normal life,” the president said.
He urged all prisoners, who will be freed soon, not commit again the crimes that caused them to be jailed.
General Mohamed Hussein Hirane, in charge of Somaliland jails, said that inmates charged with terrorism, piracy, armed robbery, rape and those serving life terms are not part in the president’s pardon.
Hirane added that the pardoned prisoners will be unchained in the days to come, according the president’s decree.
Recent reports said that individuals held on terrorism-related charges had been pardoned by the Somaliland leader.
However, Mohamed Mohamoud Abdillahi, a Somaliland officer, told the BBC Somali Service that the president has ordered the release of two clerics who were convicted for terrorism charges and sentenced to several years of jail after pressure from local elders.
Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh and Isma’il Muse Ali were arrested in 2003 by security forces after they were accused of planting mines near the state house, according to Abdillahi.
All these developments come as Somaliland seeks recognition from world countries and the United Nations.