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|Somaliland: Reflections on Democratic Transitions (IRI Washington, DC 20005)|
In the fall of last year the International Republican Institute (IRI) conducted a comprehensive political assessment in Somaliland that prompted IRI to begin program activities aimed at supporting the young democracy. Since that time, IRI has conducted political party training, communications training and a campaign school in advance of the presidential elections in April. IRI will continue to support the democratization process through program activities on the ground and a roundtable discussion in Washington to discuss issues relevant to the process.
Although Somaliland has not been accorded international recognition since its self-proclaimed independence from Somalia in 1991, the region has emerged as a peaceful stronghold in a country torn apart by war and factionalism for over two decades. In May 2001, Somaliland conducted a referendum that resulted in endorsement of a new constitution and reaffirmation of its status as an independent state. In keeping with such democratic practices, political parties were re-established in Somaliland in 2000, and historical presidential elections were held on 14 April 2003.
In the run-up to the elections, the nascent political parties have worked to develop the capacity to effectively represent citizensí views, support candidates competing for office, and participate in post-election political processes. The organizationsí execution of these tasks will be instrumental in legitimizing the elections, and Somalilandís first test of the strength of its fledgling democracy is yet to be determined, as election results are currently being contested. A successful outcome will not only affirm the regionís continued conviction for democratic governance, but could also serve as a model for the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa where such conviction appears scarce.
This roundtable discussion will gather experts from the fields of Democracy and Governance to discuss some of the following issues, particularly in the post-election environment:
Featured participants to include:
The Honorable Lange Schermerhorn, former U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti