Thursday, May 19, 2011

20th anniversary of Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence

Prof David Shinn says the AU should decide whether Somaliland should be recognized - do you agree?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

BBC Radio’s Have Your Say call-in program yesterday discussed the 20th anniversary of Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence.

The points of view expressed by persons calling in, primarily Somalis, varied enormously and some were strongly felt. Some supported international recognition of Somaliland’s independence and others opposed.

I was asked to comment on several of the comments from persons calling in. My basic points were that Somaliland has an impeccable legal case even under African Union guidelines to claim independence. (Dr. Abdi Samatar took sharp exception to this comment.) Somaliland was independent in its own right from 26 June 1960 until it joined the Somali Republic five days later on 1 July 1960. As a result, it was, however briefly, an independent nation.

Most countries outside Africa, including the United States, believe that the African Union should take the lead on the merits of recognizing Somaliland and it is obvious that for political reasons the African Union is not prepared to take that step.

Most African governments are just not ready to set another precedent by accepting the independence of Somaliland. The upcoming independence of South Sudan will, however, increase the pressure to consider Somaliland’s case. I also noted that Somaliland has not resolved its differences with Puntland over Sool and part of Sanaag; it cannot wish this territorial issue away.

While this discussion plays out, I argued that the international community should provide more assistance to Somaliland in recognition of the progress that it has made, especially In establishing a democratic government.

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