Mogadishu (Commentary) — Thirty years ago the Somali state collapsed. The North — Somaliland — unilaterally seceded from Somalia in May 1991. The state failure was partly the justification for secession.
In this week’s edition The Economist makes the case for recognising Somaliland as a sovereign country. The argument that Somalis need two separate countries has never been popular at the African Union whose charter puts premium on the national sovereignty of member states.
Africa is witnessing the tragic situation in South Sudan, where identity politics has torn apart the social fabric.
Several months ago Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said that Somaliland embraced parliamentary democracy too early because the supporters of the opposition party, Waddani, characterised the party’s defeat as a win for a clan.
His honesty is a remarkable example of candour that animates politics in the North.
The North forged ahead after state collapse; a civil war that lasted two years had affected Somaliland during the 1990s, but in 2001, the former Somaliland President Mohammed Ibrahim Egal had put Somaliland on the path of parliamentary democracy.
State-building enabled political elites to conduct three presidential elections since 2003, remembered for peaceful transfer of power.
The University College London report on 2017, Somaliland presidential elections, however, underscored the absence of institutions capable of shepherding Somaliland into a sovereign state.
Somaliland is “over-reliant on a customary system to solve problems, and with representative electoral institutions not yet fully capable of supporting the transition to a stronger nation-state” the report stated.
Creating new countries in Africa out of existing countries has resulted in catastrophic political fallouts.
The Eritrea-Ethiopia war and South Sudan civil war come to mind.
Persuading Somaliland to accept that Mogadishu rules Hargeisa is a tall order given the fact that Mogadishu’s influential political leaders managed to organise clan militias against the Federal Government of Somalia over controversial mandate extension.
Neither South Somalia nor North Somalia can stand as a separate sovereign state.
A return to trusteeship is far more plausible than a hasty break-up of Somalia into two states for homogeneous Somalis, as proposed a British magazine that campaigns against Scottish independence.
This article first appeared in the Puntland Post and is republished with permission