By Prof. Abdirahman Ahmed Shunuf
- Historical perspective
- Implications of Britain’s Transfer of Somali Territory to Abyssinia in 1897
Although there was no Act of Union, the voluntary merger between the state of Somaliland (Today the Republic of Somaliland) and on 1st July 1960, should be seen in the light of Britain’s illegal transfer of some 25,000 square miles of Somaliland territory, known subsequently as the Haud and Reserved Area, to king Menelik of Abyssinia in 1897. There was no consultation with the Somali people.
The gravity of this transfer, which at the point in time secured for king Menelik’s cooperation with Britain’s imperial interests in the Sudan, only impinged in later years on Britain’s conscience when she exercised the responsibilities of a ‘protectorate’ ostensibly protecting the interests of the people of Somaliland.
To that extent Britain after World War II, offered Ethiopia in exchange for the Haud and Reserved Area, a corridor to Zeila, which was turned down by the French. Undaunted, Britain then offered a cash payment, even a battleship, in consideration for the return of this territory to Somaliland.
The offers were not accepted by Ethiopia. Instead, Britain, whilst recognizing Ethiopia’s sovereignty over this territory, established, by virtue of Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 1954, a liaison office in Jigjiga to protect the rights of Somalilanders in this territory.
- Independence and Merger with No Act of Union
The British acceptance of Ethiopian sovereignty over the Haud and Reserved Area was the forerunner to demands by the people of Somaliland for the rights of self-determination and independence from colonial rule. It was followed on 26 June 1960 with the promulgation of the independent State of Somaliland.
With a view to pressing for the union of all the Somali people in the Horn of Africa to form what was then known as Greater Somalia, Somaliland initiated the merger with Somalia on 1st July 1960. The reluctance of political leaders in Mogadishu to accept wholeheartedly what most of them felt was Somaliland’s intrusiveness in their internal political affairs was manifest when Somaliland’s Prime Minister Mr. Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, visited Mogadishu before merger. He discovered to his chagrin that, without previous consultation, to appointments to the, as yet unpromulgated, new government had already been agreed, namely the president of the proposed Somali Republic, the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Interior. This was a portent of problems to come.
Both the Somaliland and Somalia legislatures, before independence, had independently prepared their own versions of ‘Act of Union’.
These two versions were so apart conceptually and in detail that the Somaliland legislature, whilst agreeing in principle on June 30 – one day before Somalia’s independence and merger with Somaliland- to an Act of Union had been agreed and despite the fact that the provisional president had signed a decree entitled the Law of Union of the State of Somaliland and Somalia. This was unacceptable to the merged legislatures, now known as the Legislative Assembly and a consultative Commission for integration was thus appointed whose findings would be subject to a referendum.
The national referendum on the findings of the Consultative Commission for Integration was held in July 1961. The Somali National League, the leading political party in the State of Somaliland, campaigned against the ratification of the constitution. Percentage votes against were: Hargeisa 72%, Berbera 69%, Buroa 66% and Erigavo 69%.
The total number of votes cast in the Somali Republic as a whole were officially reported to be 1,952,660 out of which only 100,000 votes were recorded from the State of Somaliland.
The new constitution was promulgated, but not before a military coup d’état in the State of Somaliland had attempted to restore the sovereignty of the State. The coup had been instigated by Sandhurst-trained junior officers, serving under Italian-trained senior officers. The leaders of the attempted coup were brought to trial in Mogadishu before a British judge on the charges of treason. He acquitted the officers on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction over the State of Somaliland in the absence of an Act of Union.
1.3 Coup D’état Heralds Marxist Socialism
By 1969, no advance had been made with the objective of a Greater Somalia, save to antagonize both Kenya and Ethiopia. A military coup d’état in Mogadishu replaced the democratically elected government of the then Prime Minister, Mr. Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, and Marxist Socialism was introduced by the military dictator, General Mohamed Siad Barre with the support of the Soviet Union. The Somali Republic became the Somali Democratic Republic under Barre’s communist doctrine.
In 1977, the armed forces of Somalia were drawn into an invasion of Ethiopia from the State of Somaliland, but they were repulsed in the Jigjiga area by an Ethiopian counter-offensive, assisted by armour flown into the battlefield by Soviet and Cuban forces based in Addis Ababa. General Siad Barre, defeated in battle and fearful of assassination, embarked on a defensive course of clan nepotism, and an aggressive course of genocide towards the people of the State of Somaliland who, in 1981, formed the Somali National Movement (SNM) to regain the independence of their country.
1.4 Somalilanders’ 10-Year Struggle Against the Brutality of Barre’s Military Rule
In pursuit of so-called Scientific Socialism, Siad Barre eliminated all democratic institutions, bringing almost the entire economy into the public sector. Virtually all trading activities, urban employment opportunities and agriculture came under centralized government control. The exception was the livestock industry, which no government could control other than by denying traders fuel or ports of exit. This, Siad Barre attempted to do by virtually closing down the port of Berbera, forcing diversion of exports and controlled imports through Djibouti and minor ports along the northern coastline.
In furtherance of Siad Barre’s policy to deprive the state of Somaliland of economic assistance, only 6.4 percent of total overseas investment between 1987 and 1989 was allocated to the country.
On the basis of investment per square kilometer, this represented US $3,102 compared with the corresponding geographical distribution for Mogadishu of US$741,814 per square kilometer where, of course, the population is denser, but nonetheless a derisory allocation to the state of Somaliland.
It became a common practice for civil servants to accept illicit fees for services rendered to supplement their official wages. The state of Somaliland was occupied wholly by corrupt and inexperienced army officers purporting to be administrative officers in charge of Districts and regions. The judicial system no longer functioned. It was superfluous since Habeas Corpus had been annulled in October 1969.
The country was effectively administered (if that is not too grand a word) by the Hungash (Military Intelligence). The Dhabarjebinta (Military-counter Intelligence), the Kofiyad’asta (Red Berets-military police), the Barista Hisbiga (party investigators) and the Guulwadayaal (party militia). Imprisonment, torture and execution without trail were de rigueur.
The concentration of authority in Mogadishu, some 1.500 miles from Hargeisa, became an intolerable burden both physically and financially for people to travel these vast distances by road.
Any service, however small, had its unofficial price in terms of cash and liberty: at military road barriers, the passport office, the central bank for letters of credit, license offices for every conceivable mode of transaction. There were rights for the consumer and no recourse to judicial protection. The tyranny was absolute.
An incident in Hargeisa on April 6, 1981 serves to illustrate the total disregard of human rights to achieve political ends. Somali students in Hargeisa demonstrated to protest against the arbitrary detention of 37 professionals who were carrying out voluntary work to improve the standard of the central hospital which had been neglected by Siad Barre’s authorities. The students were mown down by tanks and armored personnel carriers, taking huge casualties of whom many died.
1.5 The Bombing of Hargeisa and the fall of Siad Barre
Following this and other brutal acts of terrorism, the SNM approached the government of president Mengistu of Ethiopia. He welcomed the establishment of an SNM guerilla training base on Jigjiga from where the SNM could build up their forces in the Haud. From there they launched forays against Siyad Barre’s 26th and 27th military Garrisons, including a daring raid on the Mandera Central Prison in 1983 when they released over one-thousand political detainees and other inmates who had been condemned to death.
Five years later, in April 1988, when the SNM guerrilla forces were well-armed and experienced, relations with the Mengistu government started to slip as they came under pressure from the Eritrean (EPRDF), Ogaden (WSLF) and Oromo (OLF) liberation movements and Mengistu sought an accord with Siad Barre. In response, the SNM, learning that Siad Barre had planned the genocide of all Isaaq Clan-members, launched from May 27-30 ferocious attacks on Siad Barre’s garrisons stationed in Hargeisa and Buroa. These were well-equipped, regular troops. Despite this, they were overrun by SNM guerrillas. As punitive retribution, Siad Barre’s son-in-law, General Seyed Hersi Morgan, who was the governor of the region, ordered the air force to bomb Hargeisa, followed by heavy artillery fire directed indiscriminately at civilians and buildings in both Hargeisa and Buroa especially. Over 15,000 Somalis were estimated to have been killed; whilst others were shot and killed as they fled from the cities of Haud.
The enormous damage done to the buildings in both cities was followed by the widespread plundering of every conceivable asset, bringing all public services to a halt. Wherever an object of commercial value could be found, whether it was a door, roof or window, or miles of piping or copper wire, it was stolen by the occupying forces and exported to Ethiopia, Mogadishu or to the Gulf states. The two cities, and hundreds of smaller towns and villages, were laid waste. Over one million uncharted land mines had been laid. The state of Somaliland had been devastated by the rapacious army of Siad Barre.
With the intensification of civil war in the State of Somaliland and the fall of Siad Barre in Mogadishu on 27 January 1991, the SNM guerrillas engaged Siad Barre’s garrisons as they fled towards Berbera. Many were killed or captured. All prisoners were released and ordered to return to their homes. Berbera was retaken on January 29, Hargeisa and Buroa on January 31, Borama on February 4 and Erigavo the next day.
2.0 The Dawn of a New Age: The Aftermath of Siad Barre
2.1 SNM Restores the Sovereignty of the State of Somaliland
The people of the State of Somaliland, after suffering thirty years of unwanted, and later ruinous, occupation by unqualified civil servants from Mogadishu, followed by the tyranny of southern military forces, sought only the restoration of the independent state of Somaliland.
The SNM moved quickly. Representatives from the five regions-Awdal, North West, Togdheer, Sool and Sanag – met in Berbera from 15-27 February 1991, and decided to revise the unimplemented Act of Union which the legislature of the Somaliland protectorate had passed on 27 April 1960 before the State of Somaliland had been promulgated. The issue was left for a decision by a Congress, including 99 members of the SNM Central Committee, which met in Buroa on 27 April 1991.
On May 18, 1991, the restoration of the State of Somaliland was unanimously declared under the new name of the Republic of Somaliland. This was followed by a vote on the form that a new constitution should take, whether an Executive Presidential system should be invoked or whether a Prime Ministerial system would be more desirable. The former system was adopted by 46 votes to 33. Mr. Abdirahman Ahmed Ali, Chairman of SNM, became president for a two-year period.
During his presidency, difficulties were experienced with the maintenance of law and order. These were exacerbated when the flow of government revenue, particularly from customs tariffs collected in the port of Berbera, came under the control of anti-government militia units. Fighting broke out which was only brought to an end when elders, assembling at Sheikh town, forged a peace agreement which held.
2.2.0 The Marathon Conference in Borama
As president Abdirahman’s two-year mandate was coming to an end, the council of Elders, numbering 150 persons proportionally representing each clan in the republic, under the chairmanship of Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Yusuf Sheikh Madar, met in Borama in January 1993.
The assembly, called ‘The Somaliland Inter-Clan Council Conference’, numbered some 500 persons composed of a cross-section of elders, religious leaders, politicians, former civil servants, intellectuals, businessmen and others.
The conference, which only received only grudging support from UNOSOM, lasted more than four months. Two major decisions emerged: a National Charter and the election of a president and vice-president of the Republic of Somaliland.
2.2.1 The National Charter for a Transitional Period of Two Years
188.8.131.52 Ratification of the Restoration of the State of Somaliland
The National Charter of the Republic of Somaliland was signed on April 25, 1993 by 150 members of the Council of Elders sitting in the Congress in the city Borama. The charter ratified the decision of the Central Committee of the SNM restoring the legal status of the State of Somaliland as it existed on June 26, 1960.
184.108.40.206 Basic Freedoms
The charter is provisional and it will be replaced a formal constitution within a period of two years. It subscribes to the universal declaration of human rights, including rights to the ownership of property. The freedom of movement, political expression and free association is also stipulated: likewise the freedom of worship, but this does not include the propagation of any religion rather than Islam. The liberties stipulated must conform to the general norms and principles of Islamic Law.
220.127.116.11 How the Government is organized
The organization of the government during the two-year transitional period has been structured in such a way that the parliament has an upper and lower house. The Upper House is composed of the Council of Elders, and the Lower House, which is also a constituent Assembly, is the elected body of the House of Representatives. Powers of the Executive are reposed in a council of ministers. A unique feature of the Charter is that no person may be a member of more than one council.
Thus, members of the Executive Council cannot also be members of either the Council of Elders or the House of Representatives.
18.104.22.168 Criteria for membership and methods of election.
The criteria for membership of the respective councils differ. The 75-member Council of Elders, elected by respective clans, should be persons of wisdom, conversant with traditional values, and should not be less than forty years of age. They should be Muslims and should abide by the principles of Islam. The current Chairman of the Council of Elders, Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Yusuf Sheikh Madar, was awarded ex officio membership of the Council of Elders during the life time of the parliament.
The 75-member House of Representatives are elected by respective clans according to agreed proportional representation. Qualifications for membership are those obtaining for the President of the Republic (see below) except that the age-span is from 30-70 years, and not 40- 70 years as in the case of the President. There is a minimum education qualification of a Secondary School Leaving Certificate.
The qualifications required for the President and Vice-President of the Republic include Somali origin by birth, no criminal conviction (political persecution excepted), a practicing Muslim, and election by the General Congress meeting in Borama.
22.214.171.124 Functions of Council of Elders.
The functions of the Council of Elders arc mainly advisory, but in respect of Bills Introduced by the House of Representatives on matters concerned with ‘Peace, Religion or Tradition’, the Council may reject such legislation, before enactment, and return the Bill in question once only for further deliberation by the House of Representatives, The Council also has the specific duty of preserving peace and to work with the administration towards a solution to political problems that might arise. In the event of a failure to reach an agreed solution, the Council may summon a National Conference to resolve the issue concerned.
126.96.36.199 Functions of the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives enacts the laws of the Republic of Somaliland; nominates the Constitutional and Election Committees; ratifies international agreements; approves, through a vote of confidence, the policies of the Government; accepts or rejects the appointment of Ministers nominated by the President of the Republic; and approves or otherwise the national budget.
188.8.131.52 Functions of the President.
The President is the Head of State of the Republic of Somaliland and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. As Chairman of the Council of Ministers and leader of the Government, the President is the chief executor of Government policy, and responsible for the appointment and dismissal of Ministers and senior officials of the administration. The President may not be absent from the Republic for more than 30 days at any one time, other than for reasons of ill-health.
184.108.40.206 Functions of the Vice-President
In the President’s absence from the Republic, the Vice-President fulfils the duties of President. In the event of the deaths of both the President and Vice-President, the President of the House of Representatives assumes the duties of President for 45 days during which the House of Representatives anti the Council of Elders will elect a new President and Vice-President.
220.127.116.11 Independent Agencies.
The Charter notes that five national agencies function independently of the Government, namely, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, Auditor-General, Civil Service Commission, and the Central bank. The heads of these independent national agencies are appointed (or dismissed) by the Council of Ministers after approval by the House of Representatives.
18.104.22.168 Higher Judiciary Council
An independent Higher Judiciary Council, appointed by the Council of Ministers with the approval of the House of Representatives, has powers to appoint and dismiss judges, and to impose disciplinary measures. Decisions of the courts cannot be set aside by any authority other than by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is the highest legal authority in the Republic, and when constituted as a Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional Issues.
22.214.171.124 Equality before the Law.
All persons are equal before the law and there is a presumption of innocence unless a person is otherwise found guilty. The principle of habeas corpus is invoked, ensuring that a person arrested is brought before a court within 48 hours of detention.
126.96.36.199 Social and economic principles.
Underlying social and economic principles encourage Free enterprise and a market economy, and emphasize the creation of employment centers with priority of employment for the former guerillas, the Mujaahidiin; likewise reconstruction, activities which should take into account refugees; the crippled, the orphans and the widows. The rehabilitation and the restoration of all social services, the infrastructure, livestock and agricultural sectors, and the creation of a fishery industry, are to receive top priority. All natural resources,, and laws governing their conservation and development, are the responsibility of the Government.
2.3 Sanaag Regional Conference on Security and Reconciliation
The Sanaag Regional Conference, which took place in Erigavo between 19 July and 8 November 1993, was designed to settle several deeply serious problems concerning the equitable restoration of property (immovable and movable) and other rights, such as grazing and watering rights, which had arisen during the era of conflict in the years 1991-1992.
Together with expert witnesses, every incident which had resulted in loss of life or property was investigated and decisions reached, according to Somali traditional practices, to compensate legitimate Claimants for grievances sustained.
All clans of the Sanaag region were represented at the meeting, together with guests from the Regions of Sool, Togdheer and the North-West. Agreements reached included the establishment of rules for the observance of all agreements and their implementation, particularly on matters concerning security. On the question of a Regional Administration, it was agreed that District Councils should be elected by traditional methods (open shir or meeting of Elders) and that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of each District Council should become ex officio members of the Sanaag Regional Council. The agreements arrived at during the Borama Conference, likewise previous national conferences at Berbera, Burao and Sheikh, were duly ratified.
The final agreement was drawn up on November 11, 1993 and signed by eight Sultans of respective clan groups.
3.0 Republic of Somaliland’s Relations with UNOSOM
3.1 Relations during period of Ambassadors Sahnoun and Kittani
Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, who established UNOSOM in 1992, was anxious to deploy troops in the port of Berbera to facilitate the distribution of relief supplies for refugees in camps In the Haud,
He held discussions with the then President Abdirahman Tuur in October that year to explain the reasons why foreign troops were required. The President asked Mr Sahnoun to meet. the Council of Elders, who happened to be in Hargeisa at the time, to expound on the need for these troops: The Elders agreed in principle to the deployment. Shortly thereafter Mr. Sahnoun resigned as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and was replaced by Ambassador Kittani.
Kittani paid his one and only visit to Somaliland in November of the same year in order to secure a written agreement, signed by the President, for the deployment of these troops. When the President was notified by the UNOSOM Zone Director in Hargeisa of Mr. Kittani’s impending arrival and its purpose, the President requested in advance of the visit a copy of the agreement he was being asked to sign. No copy was sent. Thus, when Mr Kittani, on arrival at the Presidency, pushed the agreement across the table for the President’s signature, the President declined to sign it, protesting that he first needed to refer it to his Council of Ministers. Mr Kittani, who was in a hurry to leave, threatened to deny the country further imports of relief supplies unless the agreement were signed then and there. Mr. Kittani avoided mentioning that Egyptian troops, who would have been exceedingly unpopular in Berbera, were scheduled to be deployed there. The agreement was never signed.
In January 1993, the UNOSQM Zone Director in Hargeisa was instructed by Mr. Kittani to select elders from Somaliland to attend a preliminary Somalia national conference in Addis Ababa without reference to the Republic’s Government. This unjustified action led to a demand by the government that the Zone Director be removed. Mr. Kittani then closed down the UNOSOM office in Hargeisa. It wasn’t reopened until several months later.
3.2 Relations during Period of Admiral J. Howe
The official policy of UNOSOM, during the early period of Admiral J. Howe’s tenure as Special Representative, was virtually a ‘hands-off policy of non-intervention. No UNOSOM military deployment would be invoked without prior consultation and agreement ‘with the Government of Somaliland. Despite this flexible policy, which reflected the political realities obtaining in the Republic, some UNOSOM officials persisted in attempts to destabilize Somaliland’s newly forged political unity, following the Borama Conference (see para 2.2.0 above).
Even during the Borama Conference Dr L. Kapungu, the UNOSOM Director of the Political Division, visited Borama with a view to recruiting representatives of the Awdal Region to attend the March National Reconciliation Conference in Addis Ababa as a faction independent of the Republic of Somaliland. This gross Interference in the Republic’s internal affairs was totally unacceptable.
By mid-August 1993, a change in UNOSOM’s perception of the Republic was evident from a report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council on August 17. Paragraph 74 of this report reflected Dr. Butros-Ghali’s doctrine that disarmament is a precursor to political stability and that additional foreign troops were required to carry this out. In his report he urged the Security Council to approve the deployment of an additional brigade ‘to pursue the programme of disarmament, in the central and northern regions’. The Secretary – General’s argument took no account of the progress already made by the Republic of Somaliland’s Government, together with elders, to demobilize former militias peacefully and without the use of force, let alone the deployment of proposed foreign troops. Nor did it respect a verbal understanding between Admiral Howe and President Egal that the Republic of Somaliland’s administration was being given de facto recognition.
The Secretary-General’s proposal was seen in Hargeisa as a preparation for the military occupation of Somaliland. Admiral Howe responded to protests by the President, confirming that UNOSOM had no plans to send troops to Somaliland and would not do so without full consultations.
This policy contradiction between New York and Mogadishu coincided with indiscreet, though revealing, comments made by the UNOSOM zone Director in Bosaso, Mr John McAteer, seconded temporarily to UNOSOM from the US State Department. He expounded the view that UNOSOM should hasten the disintegration of the Republic of Somaliland by excising the Sanaag Region from direct contact with the Zone Director in Hargeisa and by supporting rebel minorities in the eastern border areas contiguous with the North-East Region of Bari.
If this were not enough, the same Zone Director in Bosaso was invited by the Deputy Special Representative, Mr. L. Kouyate, to accompany him on a visit to Erigavo and Las Anod a week later. This compounded the suspicion that UNOSOM was duplicitous.
Moreover, many of the undertakings made by UNOSOM to the Government in respect of logistical assistance for some 4,000 demobilized militias encamped at Mandera for retraining, were not fulfilled. The sum total of these activities, which were viewed adversely by both the public and the Government, led to a formal insistence by the Government that the UNOSOM office in Hargeisa be closed with no time scale imposed for the departure from the Republic of UNOSOM personnel. This aroused the interest of the UN Secretary-General who attempted a placatory manoeuvre.
In a communication from the UN Secretary- General, dated October 1st 1993, Dr. Butros Butros-Ghali explained, in contradistinction to his statement to the Security Council on August 17, that it was not the intention of Security Council Resolution 8l4 to interfere in any way in the political arrangements’ of Somaliland and that UNOSOM II had been urged, in its relations with the President, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, to exercise the ‘greatest sensitivity.
Whilst acknowledging this communication as a small step forward in the tedious process of gaining at least an understanding from the International community that the Republic of Somaliland is different from Somalia, the reality remains that merely to express the obvious falls a long way short of an international de facto acceptance of the existence of the Government of the Republic of Somaliland, let alone a de jure recognition of the Republic itself,
We believe that the United Nations is only playing a cat and mouse game with Somaliland until they can happily get rid of the problems Somaliland allegedly poses if and when Somalia’s warlords come to their senses and form an interim administration. Somaliland’s skepticism is wholly justified, given the track record of UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II in the profoundly inept, contradictory and suspicious manner in which they have conducted their relations with the Republic of Somaliland ever since Ambassador Kitiani arrived on the scene in November 1992.
A year later, following the second visit only by Admiral Howe to the Republic, a more sensible relationship between UNOSOM and the Government was established and the UNOSOM office was permitted to continue. But a few days before a Conference in Addis Ababa was scheduled to begin on November 29, the. Government was obliged to decline an Invitation from Admiral Howe to attend the Conference on the grounds that an appropriate role, as earlier agreed by Admiral Howe, was not found for the Republic’s representatives to enable them to participate. The Government was not prepared, as President Egal observed at the time, to share representation with ‘non-existent acronyms’, consisting of a ‘few individuals fostered and hired by Southern factions and UNOSOM for their own political purposes’. In other words, the Government could not share a platform with people who claim to represent the Republic of Somaliland but have no mandate to do so. The assurance given by Admiral Howe to the President that he considered the Government as the sole representative of Somaliland, had only a placatory ring to it.
4.0 Somaliland’s Position Vis-a-vis Somalia
The experimental merger between the State of Somaliland and the UN trust Territory of Somalia in 1960, which failed even to sign an Act of Union, led to vociferous demands from the people of Somaliland to restore their former independence. The reasons are part of recorded history. This decision by the people of Somaliland is Irrevocable and non-negotiable, it will be put to the test as soon as funds are available to administer a countrywide referendum in the presence of UN and regional referees.
5.0 Somaliland’s Advice to Somalia
In the view of Somaliland, the political leaders of Somalia should abandon any thoughts that they might still have of forming a unitary or federal state which includes Somaliland. The people of Somaliland, through proportional representation of every clan in Somaliland at the Borama Conference, referred to earlier, formally ratified the declaration on 18 May 1991 of the restoration of Somaliland’s sovereignty. Both the people and their leaders have made it consistently clear on umpteen occasions over the last three years that their sovereignty is non-negotiable.
Our brothers in Somalia must accept this fait accompli and turn to resolving their own internal problems, and cease fretting over Somaliland which intends to do Somalia no harm, but Somaliland has nothing whatever to offer, Somalia. Now that the reason for the abortive merger – a Greater Somalia – proved to be illusory and unattainable. It would be wiser for Somalia to accept today’s realities and to concentrate its attention on bringing peace, security and prosperity to its own nation.
8.0 Somaliland’s View on Ending Somalia’s Internal Conflict
On 14 October 1993, President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal drawing on Somaliland’s successful methods of solving political disputes by Traditional methods, advanced some new proposals for national reconciliation In Somalia.
He recommended that seven delegates from Djibouti, seven from the Fifth Zone of Ethiopia, and seven from Somaliland should form a panel of arbitrators, under UN auspices, to conduct shuttle conciliation by visiting Gaalka’ayo, Beledweyn. Dusamareb, Baidao, Gedo, Kisrnayu, Bosaso, and Mogadishu in that order. They would be expected to stay in each Region for a week. On each Friday they would address gatherings separately in Mosques after the JUM’A prayers. After having created an atmosphere of reconciliation and having aroused sentiments of patriotism, they would address community leaders and heads of warring factions. Having established in all regions a willingness to negotiate and to settle political problems, a reconciliation conference would be held in one of the centers.
President Egal believed that one of the major obstacles to a peaceful settlement in Somalia was the lack of participation in the peace process by ordinary people whose interests in this respect were hijacked by the prominence given to those who were responsible for bloodshed, chaos and destruction.
In the event, the UNOSOM-sponsored reconciliation conference was held in Addis Ababa under former arrangements where, as President Egal predicted, ’faction leaders tried to score points against one another’. ‘The rest of the participants’, Mr. Egal noted in his proposal, ‘would only be confused by the alien surroundings and by a foreign chairman and other organizers of the conference whose speeches and languages they could not hope to understand’.
7.0 Somaliland’s Views on Close Economic and Political Integration in the Horn
The principle of free trade, which means the abandonment of national tariffs, is an ideal which has only most recently been accomplished by the European Community, but it has defied, for example, the newly-industrializing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it takes a long time to secure agreement on a common market, as Singapore realized after merging unsuccessfully with Malaya, to form Malaysia in 1963.
There is no point, therefore, in raising expectations on this score, that is to say, a common market for the nations of the Horn of Africa, but the principle should not be abandoned. Somaliland believes that each of the neighboring countries of the Horn of Africa should work towards open frontiers and the freedom of movement for peoples, goods and services.
One of the ways of enhancing closer economic integration, is to strengthen political relations between the nations of the Horn of Africa and in this respect Somaliland is unequivocally in support of measures taken towards this end.
8.0 Somaliland’s Readiness to Accept International Recognition
Given that Somaliland was in a state of ruination following the military occupation of its country by Siad Barre’s forces, it has made a substantial recovery over the last three years, having established political stability and a large measure of security through democratic means.
Open and free discussions, over a period of nearly five months in one meeting hall with representatives from every quarter of Somaliland, gave birth to the present Parliament and Government, together with a Charter, in the place of a Constitution which is currently under preparation.
Sources of revenue are now flowing better than ever before and. with the development of a modern police force, security will be tightened, and more revenue will be available to the Government to begin Instigating public services which lapsed during the period of’ Siad Barre’s rule. The establishment of District and regional Councils has been the subject of debate in Parliament and the necessary legislation will shortly be passed.
This, together with the private sector, which continues to attract Somali entrepreneurs, clearly places Somaliland in a different category to Somalia in both political and economic terms, despite the advantages that Somalia enjoys because of its close proximity to sources of foreign aid and technical assistance. Somaliland means Somalia no Ill-will, but when comparisons are made between the readiness of Somalia and the readiness of Somaliland to exercise their respective sovereign rights, Somaliland is ready. Somalia is not.
This does not however mean that Somaliland doesn’t require foreign aid and technical assistance. It certainly does. Aid for rehabilitation, reconstruction and, above all, for macro-development, including institution-building, which is the preserve of the World Bank and the IMF.
Neither of these institutions can operate in Somaliland until the Republic receives international recognition. 1ts imperative, after waiting three years that such recognition be now endorsed by the World community.
Abdirahman Ahmed Shunuf is a former professor at Portland University in Oregon, USA and former Vice-Chancellor of University of Hargeisa. He can be reached through his Facebook account