Somali elders hope to free abducted Cuban doctors

Even as KDF troops increase surveillance in Mandera and some parts of Somalia in search for abducted Cuban doctors, Somali elders across the two countries remain integral in the course.

elders chosen from Mandera had crossed over the border and are said to be in intense negotiations with their counterparts to bargain for the release of two doctors who were kidnapped by suspected Al-Shabaab militants.

According to RTN Somali TV, the two doctors who were practising in Mandera were pictured alive on Tuesday in a forested town of Somalia near Gedo region, a hot bed of Al-Shabaab militants.

“Cuban Doctors Landy Rodriguez Hernandez and Dr Assel Herrera Correa reportedly sighted alive in the forested Halaanqo area near Barawe four days after their capture,” RTN Somali TV reported in a tweet.

Dr Assel Herera Correa, a general physician, and Dr Landy Rodriguez, a surgeon, were abducted by suspected Al-Shabaab militia in Mandera Town last Friday. The gunmen took them to Somalia.

Mr Abdullahi Abdi, a Somali elder who also chairs the National Muslim Leaders Forum, told the Nation that elders play a visible role in the community’s institutional make-up.

“Since time immemorial, the existence of functioning traditional institutions, such as the Somali Elders’ Council in Kenya and Somalia, has been fundamental. They have played important developmental, administrative and political roles in rural areas,” Mr Abdi says.

“They have consolidated their traditional role as dispute mediators and enforcers of customary laws, which regulate most aspects of social life within Somali clans,” he adds.

To be recruited to the council of elders in Somali community, one must have attained the age of 60. The elders must show impartiality in dispute resolution and their character must be impeccable.

More often than not, most politicians from the region consult the elders before making important decisions. Inside Somalia, the elders are free to walk across Al-Shabaab territories given that nobody is allowed to attack them.

Mr Ahmed Set, the national treasurer of the National Council of Elders, says Islam does not advocate violent extremism.

“We have a strong network of elders in the North-Eastern region that promotes alternative dispute resolutions,” he said.

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