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|British Parliamentarians Given Warm Welcome In Somaliland|
Hargeisa, Jan 31, 2004 (SL Times) – Thousands of people turned out to welcome a delegation of British parliamentarians who arrived in Hargeisa last Saturday. Huge welcoming crowds lined along both sides of the roadway from Hargeisa airport to the city as the delegates arrived on a two-day visit to Somaliland.
The delegation consisted of 7 MPs and included legislators from Labor, the Conservative and Liberal party.
The British MPs, who are members of a Parliamentary sub-committee that oversees UK’s foreign aid, came to Somaliland to assess the country’s efforts for alleviation of poverty. “We wish to show our solidarity with Somaliland in the fight against poverty,” the delegation’s team leader, Tony Baldry (Conservative) said.
In a speech before a joint meeting of Parliament, Mr. Baldry recalled how Somalilanders fought alongside British troops in the second world war. “We have never forgotten that many Somaliland Scouts fought for the free world against fascism during World War II,” he said.
Recalling Somaliland’s independence from Britain in 1960, Mr. Baldry said Somaliland’s boundaries are known internationally. To emphasize this point, he demonstrated a stamp from the days of King George showing the map of Somaliland.
The British MPs have also acknowledged how over 97% voters cast a yes vote for independence in a free referendum held in Somaliland in 2001. “We saw the ruins that the war left, the tragedies that you went through, the planes that were bombing civilians, the mass graves and the abuse of human rights.”
Turning to Somaliland’s success in the last 13 years, Mr. Baldry said “We also saw the achievements that the people of Somaliland have made without any assistance from the international community.”
The British Parliamentarians were overwhelmed by the warm reception they were accorded by Somalilanders who spontaneously turned out in the thousands to welcome them. They promised to convey the needs and aspirations of the people of Somaliland, including their demand for international recognition, to their colleagues in the UK parliament as well as to the UK government.