Somaliland: Africa’s 56th country at the doorsteps

“If South Sudan and Eritrea could gain sovereignty, so will Somaliland” Somaliland President Mohamed Siilaanyo said.
Somaliland President was officially invited to attend the 1st independence day of South Sudan, and Juba administration received the president with head of state reception and Somaliland flag was flying high in Juba. This is very courageous step that acknowledges the status of Somaliland, and towards better cooperation between Hargiesa, Somaliland and Juba, South Sudan in the future.

Hundreds of South Sudanese danced in the streets on Saturday for a joy and to mark their long-awaited independence, a hard-won separation from the north. There is a lot of uncertainty waiting this fractured region. The people of South Sudan lived under gun point from 1953, in which they started their armed struggle against their former compatriots in North Sudan. The regime in Khartoum used all means of discrimination against citizens in the south, as they were regarded “Second Class citizens”.
On 9th July 2011 will always remain in the hearts of every South Sudanese because it is the day that defined their existence with defined territory. The oil deposits in South Sudan attracted the attention of the western countries, who later led the disintegration campaign of Southern Sudan from Khartoum.
Today, Somaliland is in very similar situation to that of South Sudan and asking for self-determination with all conditions of statehood fulfilled. Somaliland case could be much stronger than that of Juba because it was an independent for four days upon an agreement signed between Britain and Somaliland.
Somaliland case of independence neither violates the A.U’s charter, nor UN’s definition for statehood. Its borders are defined by the A.U’s Article 4 that respects the borders inherited from the colonial powers. Somaliland has democratic and liberal system of governance. It hosted free and fair elections under independent observer, and opposition won. The peaceful and civilized power transfer in Somaliland after election results caught the world in surprise.
Somaliland permanent population and it not only controls its territory, but it also practices democracy and the rule of law through the country. Furthermore, Somaliland engages other nations bilaterally.
Somaliland was not the first country that unconditionally united another, and as the hasty union went from jubilant to disastrous abandoned that unity. Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Gambia, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, and Senegal and Mali all renounced their original commitment to unity and reverted to their colonial borders, and today Somaliland is not an exception.
On 26th June 1960, Somaliland was formally recognized as the Republic of Somaliland by UN and other 35 countries including Britain, Israel, Egypt and USA.
However, Somaliland united with Italia Somalia (Today’s South Somalia) to bring all Somali speaking people in horn of Africa (Djibouti, parts of Ethiopia and Kenya). This unity created an illegal territorial expansion policy by regime in Mogadishu, which resulted instability in the region.
“In 1960, I took a country – Somaliland – with a viable economy and budget of 2.5 million pounds to Mogadishu” he continued “Our Somaliland’s previous existence, history and everything else has been eliminated and erased” Late President of Somaliland Mohamed H. Ibrahim Egal said.
After realizing infertility of the unity, Somaliland demanded their lost sovereignty from Mogadishu administration in 1963, and regime responded with indiscriminate killing, displacement, ethnic cleansing and bombardment.
Between 1979 and 1991, Mogadishu regime used all means of force to silence freedom demands of self-determination. The citizens of Somaliland were not given their share in power and public services, as they were regarded “Second Class citizens” just like South Sudanese counterparts. The regime air-bombed the cities and villages in Somaliland leaving 500,000 people dead in less than 6 months during 1988. The militias loyal to Mogadishu regime committed rape, killed children and displaced more than 2 million civilians.
UN received the displaced people from the major cities like Hargiesa, Burco, Berbera and Erigavo in refugee camps in eastern Ethiopia, who fled the indiscriminate killing by militias loyal to Mogadishu administration.
Thousands of children died from dehydration and other diseases in the camps, where an estimated asset worth millions of dollars was destroyed and looted by the militias.
Somalilanders formed an armed freedom fighting group called SNM (Somali National Movement) in 1979; they continued fighting Mogadishu administration until Dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre was terminated in 1991.
SNM headquarter was located in Addis Ababa nearby the office of SPLA. Both SNM and SPLA were fighting for freedom. Finally, SNM defeated the regime and re-declared Somaliland on 18th May 1991.
Somaliland is facing growing hostile by terrorist groups and piracy. The terrorist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility of bomb attack on Somaliland Presidential Palace, UN Office and Ethiopian Embassy in Hargiesa. Somalia pirates are another threatening factor to Somaliland’s sea trade.
Somaliland is cooperating with AU, USA and Britain over ending the piracy on high-water, and thousands of pirates are in Somaliland jails.
Finally, recognizing Somaliland will benefit the region, Africa and international community on security, good governance and promoting democracy. Somaliland established one of the best democracies in the region without outside help. Somaliland will help the world in ending the anarchy in Somalia. Somaliland will be ready to contribute its experience in democracy building with their counterparts in Juba.

By: Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi
Email: az.almutairi@yahoo.com

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