After South Sudan, should Somaliland be Africa’s next new state?
Somaliland has been seeking international recognition since it declared independence from war-torn Somalia in 1991. It is relatively stable and has organised several peaceful elections. After the independence of South Sudan on 9 July, Somaliland’s government would like it to be Africa’s 55th country. Join in the debate below.
Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Minister of foreign affairs, Somaliland
Somaliland should be the next African state to be recognised. Somaliland has been a peaceful democratic state for quite some time. There’s a legal case for Somaliland’s independence, there’s an economic case for Somaliland’s recognition and there is a security case for Somaliland to be recognised. On 1 July 1960, it joined, on a voluntary basis, a union with Somalia. We have withdrawn from that union. We joined because we wanted to have a ‘Greater Somalia’, but that idea has proved to be unachievable. Somalialand is economically viable. For some years Somaliland has been running its country on the basis of revenue that is collected in Somaliland. We have a large quantity of oil and gas that are commercially available in large quantities. We have commercial ports. We can become a gateway for many African states from the Horn and East Africa. The case of the Republic of South Sudan has [proved] that new African states can come into existence despite the fact that the African Union has tried to maintain the former colonial borders. The case of Somaliland is actually maintaining the colonial boundaries. It’s not in contradiction to the African Union charter. We have been talking to African states, European states, we’ve been talking to the Americans. We are actively lobbying for political recognition, as well as economic development and investment …. We have every possible sign now that the attitude of the international community is changing in favour of Somaliland’s recognition. The question now is who will go first. We are actively encouraging African states to go first and to recognise us.
Abdallah Haji Ali, Former member of parliament, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government
The hypothesis of Somaliland realising its separation and independence is really far-fetched. I believe that every community that strives for independence should be given it, provided that they go through the real international legal procedures and processes. You cannot secede from nowhere. In Somalia, including Somaliland, we don’t have an effective central government that can take the responsibilities of negotiating with Somaliland through that process. Somaliland and Somalia have been suffering for the past 20 years from the lack of a credible leadership. The most decisive factor that can actually bring us independence is by actually negotiating with our compatriots in Somalia. It is very misleading to the people that they’re going to Kenya, to the United States or South Africa and asking them for recognition. In South Sudan, you have a very distinct different people: different languages, religions, cultures, looks and features. Somalis all share the same ones. The Somaliland claim for colonial territorial boundaries has long been compromised by the Sudan case: in South Sudan they didn’t have any colonial territorial boundaries. Somaliland voluntarily forfeited those boundaries more than 50 years ago by opting for unity. For 20 years, Somaliland hasn’t incorporated the communities in the eastern part of Somaliland. Clans in the eastern part of Somaliland will not concur with the idea of separation.