January 10, 2007

Somaliland: Will Be Recognized

As Somalia returns to rule by a single authority, the African Union must begin the process of finding a permanent solution to the status of Somaliland.

Below is an opinion piece written by Bashir Goth and published on the website of the Washington Post;

Somalia/UAE - Contrary to what pundits say about an Iraq scenario tearing up Somalia, I believe the quick withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces from Somalia and the speedy deployment of African peacekeeping forces with international financial backing will bring peace and stability to Somalia under a strong central government for the first time in 16 years.

Everything will of course depend on how quickly the international community moves to extend a Marshall Plan to rebuild the country's government institutions, particularly the armed forces, as well as creating jobs for the people.

The establishment of a peaceful and stable government in Southern Somalia will create a favorable political atmosphere for Somaliland. A former British Protectorate, Somaliland annulled its union with Somalia after the collapse of the central government in 1991. Since then it has enjoyed peace and stability under an elected presidency, bichameral parliament, independent judicial system and a vigorous free press. It has also a functioning currency, armed forces and police forces and four universities.

Often described as The Little Country That Could, Somaliland has excellent bilateral ties with neighboring states, particularly Ethiopia and Kenya. It has established special friendship with South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal and Nigeria, UK and Germany, however recognition has so far eluded it due to Arab countries' staunch rejection of the dismemberment of an Arab League member state.

However, with its brilliant record in building government institutions and maintaining peace and stability with a unique blend of traditional conflict resolving methods and modern democracy, Somaliland has won international admiration as Africa's Best Kept Secret.

The main obstacle for Somaliland was to find a negotiating partner with Somalia. Now, with the optimism of the South coming under one recognized authority for the first time, the African Union will have no reason to revert to its ostrich tactics anymore. They will be duty-bound to force the Southern government to sit with Somaliland and work out a permanent solution on Somaliland people's demand for sovereignty. And given the unwavering wish of Somaliland people for their sovereignty under the internationally recognized boundaries of 1960, the only possible outcome of any such talks will be the official secession and recognition of Somaliland. Another unexpected outcome of Ethiopia's close ties with both the TFG and independent Somaliland could be the founding of a Horn of African Economic and Monetary Union in which Djiobuti, Eritrea, and Kenya could eventually join.