Somaliland - Somalia
Renewed push for recognition of Somaliland independence

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afrol News, 12 June - After the 31 May referendum over the Constitution of breakaway Somaliland - including a paragraph stating its independence - campaigners for an international recognition of former British Somaliland are making a new diplomatic push. Over 97 percent had backed the government in its strive for independence.

A statement released yesterday by the Somaliland Forum, a Diaspora group campaigning for the international recognition of Somaliland's independence, made clear that "on May 31, 2001, the people of Somaliland made their wishes clear to the world." The wishes were of a quick international recognition of their ten year old state.

In its "Message from the People of Somaliland to the International Community", the Somaliland Forum (SLF) called on the international community "to recognise the state of Somaliland and grant the people of Somaliland their God-given right to self-determination."

The SLF is a powerful Diaspora working for the recognition of Somaliland. Access to financing from Somalilanders living and working abroad has made the organisation an important support to the poorly financed Somaliland government in its international campaign. The SLF for example contacted and financed the international observers to the 31 May referendum, giving it more weight and substance. The organisation also plaid a vital part in financing the smooth referendum itself.

- The republic of Somaliland reinstated its sovereignty in May 1991 from Somalia, the illegal and ill-fated union of July 1960, the SLF communiqué states, leaning closely on to the statements made by Somaliland President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal on the background of the new state. "The international community, however, has been ignoring this historic decision, for Somaliland still yearns for a diplomatic recognition a decade later."

Somaliland, Puntland and SomaliaIn a plea especially directed towards the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the European Union, the SLF "urge them to respect the wishes and rights of the people of Somaliland". In the referendum, the people of Somaliland had "approved the constitution of Somaliland, which, in addition to upholding the sovereignty of Somaliland, also sets the rules and procedures under which their government will operate." 

World leaders are set to await the actions taken by the OAU, which in uncertain how to assess its most holy principle, enshrined in the OAU charter, of the inviolability of the old, colonial borders. As Somaliland actually had been a separate (British) colony before independence, and enjoyed four days of independence before joining with former Italian Somaliland, gives the petition certain legitimacy.

Somaliland flagOAU and UN support however still goes totally towards the Transitional National Government (TNG) of Somalia in Mogadishu, which claims to represent all Somalia, including Somaliland. Great hopes were given the TNG, established last year as the first central government in Somalia (except Somaliland) after ten years of civil war. The more and more visible failure of the TNG - now only controlling parts of Mogadishu - however could shift sympathy in favour of Somaliland, which has experienced peace, order and economic development since its establishment in 1991.

Leaning on the continuing chaos in Somalia outside Somaliland, the SLF urges world leaders "to recognize Somaliland and reward the hard work and dedication the people of Somaliland have shown in rebuilding their country from the ashes without any outside assistance." Especially the OAU should fulfil its "duty in promoting and safeguarding peace and stability in Africa and recognise Somaliland."  

Sources: Based on Somaliland Forum, UN sources and afrol archives

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