Zooming in Somaliland                           







President Dahir Rayaale






Somaliland president speaks at Princeton, emphasizes need for sovereignty


14 October 1999



President Muhammad I. Egal



By Andrew O'Riordan, The Daily Princetonian (Princeton U.)


PRINCETON, N.J. -- Somaliland president Muhammad Ibrahim Egal, the leader of a nation that does not exist in the eyes of the international community, spoke yesterday at Princeton University about why the world should recognize the secession of his homeland from the Somali Republic.


In his speech, "The Sovereignty of Somaliland," Egal explained that his homeland is a tribal and primarily agrarian society located in the northern region of the Somali Republic, which is often called Somalia. Since its secession in 1991, Somaliland has been trying unsuccessfully to gain the world's attention, which has been focused on the political and humanitarian crisis to the south, he said.


Egal immediately tried to strike a chord with the audience by paralleling the plight of his breakaway nation with that of another, more familiar republic. "George Washington was the first president of a self-declared republic. I am the first president of another self-declared republic," he said.


But while the United States asserted sovereignty by declaring war, Somaliland seeks sovereignty through international recognition, Egal said. He described his country's ambitions, however, as no less than those of colonial America. "Like they stayed the course, we are going to stay the course, whatever the stakes," he said.


Egal is travelling in the United States, shuttling between Washington, D.C. and New York City in pursuit of recognition from "the world's only superpower," he said. "Nothing in the world can be done anywhere in the global village without the blessing of the USA."


He said his disillusionment with the Organization of African Unity also played a part in his strategy of courting United States assistance. "OAU is not a place where we can look to for redemption, recognition, or understanding," he said, going on to call it a "society of dictators."


Egal said his generation may not see an independent Somaliland. "The world today is conducted on interests. We hope that someday someone will take an interest in our recognition," he said.


Civil war


In the past decade, Somaliland has suffered from the civil war and protracted violence that have wracked the southern region of Somalia. "A group of circumstances has turned people in the south into something less than human and worse than beasts," he said. "Thousands of people have been killed without reason or compassion."


Egal said Somaliland does not feel malice toward its southern neighbor. "Despite the genocide attempt against us, we are compassionate to our brothers in the south. Unfortunately there is no central authority with which we can have a dialogue. The warlords are irreconcilable," he said.


© 1999 U-Wire. All Rights Reserved.


[Note: Egalís presentation was organized by Princeton Universityís African Studies Program.  The Speech took place in Dodds Auditorium at Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs, Princeton University; date October 13, 1999.]




The Horn of Africa: How Does Somaliland Fit?

Excerpts of Ambassador D. Shinn paper in Sweden


March 13, 2003


Amb. David Shinn


State Department Press Releases and Documents


[Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn delivered a paper on the current status of Somaliland at a Conference in Umea, Sweden on March 8. His analyses are his own and should not be construed to reflect assessments and policies of the U.S. Government.] Following are excerpts from Amb. Shinn's paper:


So long as the rest of Somalia remains a failed state, it is unreasonable to expect peaceful Somaliland to join willingly with its compatriots to the south. Somaliland must now convince the rest of the world, and especially the members of the African Union, that its case is special and deserves support.


The Central Committee of the Somali National Movement (SNM) assembled in Burao in May 1991 and declared unilaterally that Somaliland would henceforth become the independent Republic of Somaliland.


So far, Somaliland has had no success in convincing the Assembly of the African Union that its independence should be accepted and that it should be granted membership. Important countries like South Africa, Algeria and Senegal, if convinced of the merits of Somaliland's case, could make an important difference.


In the meantime, Somaliland opted not to participate in the process aimed at unifying Somali factions that was initiated by the government of Djibouti in 2000 in the Djiboutian town of Arta. The Arta Conference resulted in creation of the Transitional National Government (TNG) that took up residence in North Mogadishu and claimed to represent all of Somalia, including Somaliland. The TNG occupied Somalia's seats at the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), and the Arab League. Somaliland continues to reject both the Arta process and the government it created, arguing that the independence of Somaliland is nonnegotiable. For the same reason it is boycotting the Somali peace process that began last year in Kenya.


Somaliland and its Neighbors


Although not perfect, Somaliland has done amazingly well in managing the electoral process. Continued progress towards democratization, including free and fair elections, will help to convince the international community of Somaliland's bona fides as an independent state. One area that requires constant attention is the suppression of corruption. Although corruption is pervasive in Somaliland, the amounts involved appear to be modest and its overall record may well be better than is the case in most developing countries.


As Somaliland continues to build democratic institutions, one of the critical areas that require attention is a free press. There are few institutions that are more important at the early stages of developing democracy than a vigorous and open press.


Somaliland sees Ethiopia as an ally in its quest for support and recognition. Although Ethiopia understands that a stable, peaceful and independent Somaliland is in its interest, it is unwilling to be the first to recognize the government in Hargeisa. Somalia would immediately attribute nefarious motives to Ethiopian recognition of Somaliland, arguing that it wishes to balkanize Somalia and weaken Somali unity.


There are important clan ties between Somalilanders and the some 60 percent of the Djiboutian population that is Somali. Relations between Somaliland and Djibouti are correct and improving.


Saudi Arabia poses a major dilemma for Somaliland. A significant financial backer of the TNG and supporter of it within the Arab League, Saudi Arabia was traditionally the major importer of Somaliland livestock. For the better part of the last five years, Saudi Arabia has banned livestock from Somaliland on the grounds that it might be infected with Rift Valley Fever. Somaliland denies the charges, and there does not appear to be any current scientific evidence to support the claim.


In the meantime, the Saudi ban is doing grievous damage to the Somaliland economy. The ban has harmed nearly every kind of employment in the country--pastoralists, truck drivers, livestock traders, animal health staff, brokers, port employees and private business people.


In more recent years, Egypt has been a supporter of Somali unity and a strong Somali state that can serve as a counterweight to Ethiopia. Eighty-six percent of the water reaching the Aswan Dam in Egypt emanates from Ethiopia. The Nile River is, of course, Egypt's lifeline, and the leadership in Cairo wants to maintain maximum leverage over Ethiopia. A unified Somalia that might one day reassert its claims to Somali-inhabited areas of Ethiopia and has close links to Egypt would add to this leverage. As a result, Egypt is one of five countries that has recognized the TNG and opposes an independent Somaliland.


Eritrea, which received de facto independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and de jure independence in 1993, seemingly is a country that would be sympathetic to Somaliland's independence. On the contrary, it supports the unity of Somalia and is one of five nations to recognize the TNG in Mogadishu. Like Egypt, Eritrea also sees a strong and unified Somalia as a counterweight to Ethiopia.


Sudan's policy on Somaliland is especially intriguing. Sudan has traditionally supported Somali unity and is one of the five countries that recognized the TNG in Mogadishu. Sudan has been dealing with its own civil war since 1983 and does not wish to take any step that would provide additional justification for an independent southern Sudan. Acceptance of an independent Somaliland might weaken its own case for Sudanese unity.


Like Ethiopia, Kenya is primarily interested in a peaceful and friendly neighbor that does not export refugees and is in complete control of its borders. Kenya is also concerned that terrorist acts in Nairobi and Mombasa may have had some support from elements in Somalia. At the same time, Kenya does not want a strong neighbor that one day revives the Greater Somalia concept. For this reason, it is probably quietly sympathetic with an independent Somaliland. But as long as it is trying to solve the larger issue of peace in Somalia, it must remain completely neutral.


Somaliland and the United Nations


Somaliland is deeply disappointed that the United Nations played a key role in the process that led to the creation of the TNG and then allowed it to take Somalia's seat in the General Assembly. Somaliland also has a bad memory of the UN Mission to Somalia (UNOSOM) in the early and mid-1990s. UNOSOM spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Somalia to end a famine and engage in nation building, but took virtually no interest in Somaliland. For several years, UNOSOM officials did not even visit Somaliland.


Somaliland and the Donor Community


Bilateral donors have not been very forthcoming in providing assistance to Somaliland. Some probably shy away for fear that provision of assistance connotes diplomatic recognition. That concern can be avoided, however, by channeling assistance through international and indigenous nongovernmental organizations.


Somaliland is an excellent choice for increased rehabilitation and development assistance.


© 2002 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.



IRIN Interview With Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh


May 14, 2001


Prime Minister Ali Kh. Galaydh


May 14, 2001 (UN Integrated Regional Information Network)


Since its establishment in Mogadishu seven months ago, the new Transitional National Government (TNG) has struggled to assert control over the Somali capital, demobilise thousands of armed militia, and deal with rampant inflation. Initially received with great optimism in Mogadishu, the TNG has faced continued opposition from Mogadishu-based faction leaders; the newly formed southern-based Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Committee (SRRC); the self-declared independent state of Somaliland, northwestern Somalia; and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia. Opposition leaders have rejected the Djibouti-hosted Somali peace talks in Arta, which led to the election of the TNG in August 2000, and have dismissed the new government as "illegal" and "unrepresentative" - despite the fact the it has received international recognition.


Interim Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galayhd spoke to IRIN during his visit to Nairobi, Kenya, from 10 to 12 May, where he held talks with international financial institutions, diplomats, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


QUESTION: Can you explain what the Transitional National Government hopes to get out of talks with the International Monetary Fund [IMF] and the World Bank?


ANSWER: The main objective is to brief the IMF and World Bank on the state of the economy, and share some ideas we have on formulating policies - whether in terms of tax collection, or the printing of new money. We will also discuss outstanding loans, and what we are seeking in terms of assistance from the international community for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country.


QUESTION: But is it possible to ask for such assistance when the TNG hasn't been able to demonstrate control over the economy - or over the regions?


ANSWER: Well, control of the economy is easier said than done. We came to Mogadishu on 13 October, and we came without a penny. We have been supported by some business people. At the time, we were in no position to collect taxes... and in terms of taking command of the economy; -even governments that have power find it enormously difficult to control the economy. In our case, we didn't have civil servants, or records. So, there was no possibility of looking back and examining the old policies... and formulating and calibrating policies appropriate for the time. We did not have the resources, whether in terms of government officials or data collection, or economic management systems. As none of these were in place, we had no pretensions to say this or that should be done. We waited - and I think today we are in the position to carry on and collect taxes, and monitor fiscal policies and macroeconomic policies. -That's why we want to seek the advice of the IMF/World Bank and the UNDP. Hopefully, we can benefit from the knowledge of post-conflict situations in -places like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, and East Timor.


QUESTION: Let's put that in the context of what has happened in Mogadishu over the last couple of days - where there has been the bloodiest battle Somalia has seen for some years. Do you think people are losing hope in the TNG?


ANSWER: I think the Somali people - or at least those in Mogadishu - have been very hardened by their experiences over the last 10 years. In a city of about two million people, and where there are very heavily armed militias and individuals, it is to be expected that every once in a while there will be unexpected incidents of violence. The TNG has been pursuing a policy of use of non-violence and peaceful constructive dialogue, even with our opponents in the city... Last week there were six lorries full of arms and ammunitions which came into Mogadishu. -We knew when they entered the country, and we followed their route - but we didn't want to pick a fight... I would have thought this [reluctance to fight] demonstrates our goodwill. Some people might see it as a sign of weakness. But for us it is a sign to our own people that we want to abstain from the use of violence.


What happened over the last two days [11-12 May] ... happened in and around the port. I'm told [faction leader] Husayn Aydid wanted to enter the port. -This is a first - he has not entered the port since the TNG has been in Mogadishu... shots were fired and from there things spun out of control... it was an unfortunate incident... We are sorry that it has happened, and when people get killed - I don't care whether they are on the side of Aydid or the government, it is unfortunate for Somalis. We abhor the loss of life. We would like to advise caution, until we get back on top of the situation.


QUESTION: In terms of reconciliation, why no successful dialogue yet with Puntland and Somaliland?


ANSWER: In the case of Puntland and Somaliland, their problems are a bit more complicated than those of the gentlemen [faction leaders] who are in Mogadishu, and who are now part of the Ethiopian-supported SRRC. Puntland and Somaliland are admininistrative entities which we realise were created with some good reasons. In the case of Puntland, the idea was an attempt to manage its own affairs until a central government was formed. A central government is in place now, and the majority of people in the northeast are very much supportive of the TNG. They are against what Mr Yusuf [Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, president of Puntland] is trying to do, which is to extend his term of office.


In the case of the northwest, again, we know there were some good reasons why that entity was created - there have been a lot of grievances on the part of that particular territory. But nonetheless, the territory is not homogenous, and most people feel there is no consensus in terms of what is to be done from here on. [Somaliland's President Muhammad Ibrahim] Egal's idea of holding a referendum or a plebiscite on the new constitution [on 31 May], I'm afraid to say might lead to destabilisation and to violence. We fear Egal might ultimately be the loser himself.


QUESTION: But if there is a majority vote for independence in Somaliland, will that be significant?


ANSWER: No, not in the least. There was an Act of Union when British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960, and the southern Italian-administered Somali trusteeship became independent on 1 July 1960. The union took place that same day, 1 July 1960. I don't think Egal and his administrative entity can legally decide on their own to pull out of that union, even if there is a majority vote. And I don't believe there will be a majority [vote on that issue]. I think the majority of people there are vehemently against this so-called secession. I'm afraid people might resort to stuffing ballot boxes. There might be violence in a good number of the regions, including the critical region of Togdheer.


QUESTION: What would you say is the greatest strength, and the greatest weakness of the TNG?


ANSWER: I think the greatest strength is that this is a process in which most Somalis have a sense of ownership. This is their process of national reconciliation and of reconstruction, of a unified Somali state, more than anything else. I think that is what worries those against the [Djibouti-hosted Somali peace talks] Arta outcome, whether they are from our neighbouring countries, or anyone else outside this framework. The institutions that have been created - the interim constitution, the parliament, particularly the parliament... is the single most important institution now in place. I think it is the symbol of this process.


In terms of shortcomings, it's that we... have not been able to engage those who are outside the Arta process. This is our single most important area in which we feel we have not accomplished as much as we should have done. But at the same time I'd like to add that we have tried from our side, and we have directly contacted the three gentlemen who are with us in Mogadishu [faction leaders Husayn Aydid, Musa Sude Yalahow, and Usman Ato] and indirectly have been in touch with both Mr Yusuf and Mr Egal... but we realise that is where our greatest shortcoming is.


© Distributed via COMTEX News.






Somaliland Flag






A Somali trader Shukri Ismail, 46 (R) sells her wares at a big trade fair in the centre of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland


Women line up to vote in Hargeisa during first multiparty parliamentary elections in breakaway Somaliland


U.N. emergency relief coordinator Egeland meets Somaliland President Dahir Ryale Kahin in Hargeisa.





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