Since joining Twitter in December 2016 when he was running for office, Somali President Mohamed Farmajo has acquired more than 274,000 followers, but he follows only one account.
The president follows an account run by his office, Villa Somalia, shaping his entire Twitter experience around 140 characters tweets by a single account, which is not even a person. He is not reading a tweet from another human, and has tweeted 544 times as of November 30.
He is followed by most of his government officials including Prime Minister Hassan Kheyre, who himself follows two other accounts; Villa Somalia and Somalia PM which is run by his office. Kheyre has close to 78,000 followers.
Farmajo may have chosen not to view other people’s posts and stories, turning out distractions. He may want to show he is maintaining focus on what he is doing, keeping his eye on what matters most, not people’s tweets.
People use Twitter to disseminate and receive information, share their thoughts, learn and interact with others. So, why isn’t Farmajo following anyone?
The president may not want to be dragged into Somalia’s growing political crisis, or he does not give a crap what others have to say. US President Donald Trump, the world’s most-followed leader on Twitter, follows 47 accounts.
Twitter is a very conversational social platform, allowing users to communicate in a very public manner.
In 2019, 187 countries were represented through an official presence on Twitter, either by personal or institutional accounts run by heads of state and government and foreign ministers.
Somali journalists are being killed with impunity. No one is doing anything to stop it.
Gunmen shot and killed a journalist in Afgooye town in Lower Shabelle, 28 kilometres northwest of the capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, barely a week after Amnesty International released a damning report over increasing hostile environment for Somali journalists.
Abdiweli Ali Hassan was a reporter based in Mogadishu for UK-based Somali Universal TV.
No group has claimed responsibility for the killing of Abdiweli but NUSOJ – National Union of Somali Journalists – said the journalist has been receiving death threats from suspected al Shabab members over his reporting. NUSOJ believes Abdiweli was killed because of his reports on the local security situation and the military operation against al Shabab group in Lower Shabelle region.
“We express our anger and condemnation at the killing of Abdiweli Ali Hassan, the latest victim in this ongoing cycle of intimidation, violence, and murder against journalists in this country,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
“The killers wanted to silence one of the few independent voices coming from Afgooye. They won by killing our colleague.”
NUSOJ demanded quick and thorough investigations into the murder of Abdiweli.
The governor of Lower Shabelle, Adan Ali, ordered local security agencies to conduct investigation into the murder of the journalist.
Abdiweli becomes the first journalist in Somalia this year.
At least eight journalists have been killed since President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed came to power in 2017, while others have survived assassination attempts or been targeted for arrests and censorship, according to a report by Amnesty International released last week.
The increasingly hostile environment in Somalia has left journalists living in fear of both the government and militant groups, the report said.
For the fifth year in a row, Somalia remains the world’s worst country when it comes to prosecuting murderers of journalists, according to a 2019 Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Global Impunity Index. The report said war and political instability have fostered a deadly cycle of violence and impunity, along with inaction by states worldwide.
Three hundred and twenty four journalists have been killed in the last 10 years for reporting and bringing news to the world, and in most cases, killers of journalists go unpunished.
For the past five years, Somalia, which topped CPJ’s impunity index, has witnessed the killing of 25 journalists without anyone being brought to trial. Fort-five journalists were killed in the country since 1992 when the last effective central government collapsed.
In the past decade, groups like al Shabab, which is fighting to topple the Somali government, have often targeted journalists with complete impunity. However, journalists were also murdered in government-controlled areas including the capital, Mogadishu. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), 11 journalists were killed since 2016.
As journalists get killed, they also continue to operate in hostile environment facing attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention, intimidation, harassment, closure of media outlets, and confiscation of equipment continue.
In 2019, authorities in the break-away region of Somaliland blocked Hadhwanaag news website and jailed two of its journalists, shut down two TV stations, and arrested five TV journalists. In Mogadishu, in March, armed men raided Universal TV station.
In the past three decades, Somalia has had no strong central authority, and with no strong institutions to protect them, journalists became targets of their own government, clan militias, warlords, and al Shabab group.
CPJ indexed 13 countries that make up the list of the world’s worst impunity offenders representing a mix of conflict-ridden regions and more stable countries where criminal groups, politicians, government officials, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative reporting.
“Unchecked corruption, ineffective institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity,” CPJ has found.
The other 12 countries that make up the list of the world’s worst impunity offenders are Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Philippines, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia, Nigeria, and India. For this index, CPJ examined journalist murders that occurred between September 1, 2009, and August 31, 2019.
These are the countries with the biggest number of Twitter users
The social network Twitter is particularly popular in the United States, where as of October 2019; the micro-blogging service had 48.35 million active users.
Japan and the United Kingdom were ranked second and third with 35.65 and 13.9 million users respectively. Global Twitter usage as of the first quarter of 2019, Twitter had 330 million users, according to Statista, a site that tracks global business data.
This represents a notable decline from the 336 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2018. The most-followed Twitter accounts include celebrities such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and former US President Barack Obama.
Twitter has become an increasingly relevant tool in domestic and international politics. The platform has become a way to promote policies and interact with citizens and other officials, and most world leaders and foreign ministries have an official Twitter account.
US President Donald Trump is known to be a prolific Twitter user, but opinions are divided on the appropriateness of his behavior on the platform. During an August 2018 survey, 61 percent of respondents stated that Trump’s use of Twitter as President of the United States was inappropriate.
A ‘Stray’ bullet killed a former Somali diplomat. Then a journalist was detained.
A Somali-British journalist, who was with Almas Elman when she was skilled by a ‘stray bullet’ inside Mogadishu’s heavily-fortified Halane camp on November 20, has been detained over her murder.
Said Fadhaye remains in detention more than a week after Almas was shot dead inside the heavily-fortified Halane camp near the Mogadishu airport because ‘he was the only person seated next to her inside a car when the bullet hit her.’
President Mohamed Farmajo’s National Security Advisor Abdi Said Muse Ali said Said Fadhaye is being investigated over the murder of Almas. The government confiscated his passport to prevent him from leaving the country.
African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) said a stray bullet killed Almas. Almas was leaving a peace meeting in Halane camp and was heading to the airport at the time.
“Pending a final report, preliminary investigations indicate Ms. Elman was hit by a stray bullet, especially as no firearm discharge was reported within the base camp at the time of the incident,” said a an Amisom statement.
The peacekeeping mission promised to conduct a full investigation with Somali security forces and other agencies.
According to local reports, the vehicle had a total of three people, the driver, a male passenger and the deceased Almas who was seated in the back seat behind the driver.
The Elman family questioned the Amisom account, and called for a joint investigation by Canadian and Somali authorities to find out how she was killed in a military-controlled compound in Mogadishu.
“Any statements on the circumstances surrounding the death of Almas are premature and not helpful to our family, including speculation on whether this was a ‘stray bullet,’” the family said.
The Somali criminal investigations department (CID) has launched investigations into the cause of Almas’ mysterious death.
Almas, a Somali-Canadian peace activist and a former diplomat, grew up in Ottawa after her family fled the civil war in Somalia. Her father, peace activist Elman Ali Ahmed, was murdered in Mogadishu in 1996. Her mother, Fartuun Adan, founded the Elman Peace Centre in Somalia, and her sister, Ilwad Elman, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year for her work in Somalia.
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