A SSE Statement on the 27th Anniversary of the Re-assertion of Somaliland’s Independence

DATE: 18/05/2018
REF: SSE/DK – 073/18052018
A SSE Statement on the 27th Anniversary of the Re-assertion of Somaliland’s Independence 27 Years and Going Stronger On 18 th May2018,Somalilandersacrosstheglobearemarkingthe27 th anniversaryofthere-
assertion of the independence of the Republic of Somaliland. They are busy strengthening their peaceful, democratic state in a region where both peace, stability and democracy remain elusive.
The warning that liberty may be acquired, but is never recovered if it is once lost resonates with Somalilanders who on acquiring their independence from Great Britain on 26 th June 1960 gave it up
hastily for an unattainable dream of building a union of all the five territories inhabited by ethnic
Somalis in the Horn of Africa. They re-acquired their lost independence but at a considerable cost,on 18 th May 1991. That lesson that has been well learnt and Somaliland’s independence and sovereignty will never be compromised again.
In addition to the two dates mentioned above, there is another less well known date that marks the beginning of the distinct Somaliland national identity. This was the formal declaration of the colonial state, the British Somaliland Protectorate, on 20th
July1887.LikeinmanyotherAfrican, Arabian and Asian countries which were created by the European colonial powers in the latter half of the 19 th centuryorthebeginningofthe20 th centuryasnewcolonised‘states’orterritorieswith
international borders respected to date, the distinct national identity of Somaliland now spans three centuries.
Independence re-acquired Whilst we will all be also celebrating next month on 26 th
June(IndependenceDay)thebirthof the independent State of Somaliland, 18 th
May (Re-acquisitionDay) involves notonly celebrations,but
also commemoration and remembrance of the atrocities, mass killings and the destruction of all the major towns by the armed forces of the then government of Somali Democratic Republic, which was neither democratic nor a Republic. These planned and systematically executed acts marked the
end of the hasty 1960 union of the two states of Somaliland and Somalia – a union whose central plank of democracy enshrined in its Acts of Union and constitution were all already torn up by a Military dictatorship in 1969. In turn when, in January 1991, the Somali Democratic Republic state
collapsed, a few individuals in Mogadishu crowned themselves as rulers, thereby jettisoning the
1979 Constitution, as well. Somaliland’s reassertion of its independence on 18
th May1991was,as confirmed by the ICJ, not contrary to international law, and neither was there any longer, any semblance of an existing constitutional order. The state that disappeared was neither governed democratically, nor respected human rights and it beggars belief that its remnants and other claimants and pretenders that came after it were allowed to claim non-existent ‘territorial integrity’
over territories they have never controlled.
Somaliland and Somalia are diferent Two independent countries called Somaliland and Somalia united in July 1960 and not two regions,
as sometimes portrayed in the Somalian press. As was repeatedly pointed out by the late President Egal, Somaliland, even during its ‘union’ with Somalia, was never part of a country called SOMALIA. Both the Acts of the Union and the 1960 Constitution confirmed that following their
union the new state shall be called the SOMALI REPUBLIC. There was no discussion anywhere or
agreement that the name of one or the other of the two states that united (i.e Somaliland and
Somalia) should continue to be used. Indeed both of the names were colonial constructs as the
suffix ‘land’ (of Germanic origin) and ‘ia’ for new states (and ‘stan’ in others) are used world-wide
in numerous countries with different languages from Finland to Nigeria, and neither is any more or
less Somali than the other. Yet Somalians continued to refer to the ‘united’ state as ‘Somalia’, an
attitude that very much represented the lopsided nature of the union in so many different issues.
Since 1991, it is of course, up to the Somalians what they call their country/state, and we note that
both their 2004 Charter and their 2012 Interim Constitution refer to their country as the Federal
Republic of Somalia. Despite the Somalian claims, the reality which the world is aware of is that
Somaliland has never been party to the various Somalia conferences held since 1991 and to the
various political dispensations for Somalia that started in 2000 onwards and are still ongoing, with
the latest ones being for this year and, as recently announced also for the year 2020. Somaliland has
its own constitution and government elected in popular elections.
Somali ethnicity across national borders
It is common ethnicity, common language and culture etc. (and common religion) that all the
Somali people in the five territories of the Horn shared, but there was never one single state they all
shared. Today ethnic Somali leaders in the capitals of three of these territories (Hargeisa, Jigjiga
and Djibouti), which are only within a few hundred miles of each other, share no common
nationality or national origin but meet co-operatively about the common interests of their respective
countries and often also meet ethnic Somali ministers and members of the Parliament of Kenya.
However, the continuing fatuous Somalian claim over Somaliland makes any similar very close co-
operation and joint working impossible. One only needs to look across the Gulf of Aden to see
examples of ethnic Arab small and large states, some of whom with past common state structures at
various times, co-operating side by side by side in peace and mutual support.
An amicable parting or another costly war?
In this third decade since the end of the defunct union between Somaliland and Somalia, we repeat
again our previous plea and warning. We saw in Europe in 2014 how one of the oldest democracies,
the United Kingdom, had contemplated the end of the prosperous and peaceful 300 year old union
of England (population then 54.3 million) and Scotland (population then 5.3) through the exercise
of self-determination by the people of Scotland. We mention this again because, in the case of
  • Somaliland and Somalia, there has actually been no union at all for not only the last 27 years but
    also for the preceding 6 or so years when there was what was described ‘a government at war with
    its own people’. Our underlying message is that it is imperative that the defunct union is laid to rest
    peacefully to avoid another costly war.
    The International Community
    Many new countries in Europe and elsewhere have joined the international community since 1991
    and it appears that Somaliland’s location in Africa and its misfortune to have been once part of the
    one of the most drastic state failures have overshadowed its unique (sui generis) case as
    highlighted in the conclusions of the African Mission to Somaliland in 2005. For decades, the
    international community has been understandably preoccupied with re-establishing peace and
    governance in Somalia but has unfortunately repeatedly failed to address the status of Somaliland
    The spurious claims about Somaliland made by various changing faces in Somalia ranging from the
    warlords of yesteryears to various appointed persons that followed have so far been accepted,
    without any questioning. It is incredible that in spite of the fact that Somaliland leaders,
    parliamentarians and local councillors elected in popular elections governing the country, the
    Somalian authorities in Mogadishu often portray individuals of Somaliland origin who represent no
    one but themselves as representing Somaliland in Somalia. These practices which are sold to the
    international community fool no one and are disingenuous and fraudulent. We ought to be all
    concerned about the messages that these dubious practices and the continuing disregard of the
    Somaliland people’s exercise of their right to self-determination 27 years ago send to the vast
    majority of the Somaliland population under who are under the age of 30. Prolonged hostility and
    continuation of the current political instability. Somalilanders want to avoid this scenario.
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